Appreciate the Setbacks

Oprah Winfrey:

One of my greatest lessons has been to fully understand that what looks like a dark patch in the quest for success is the universe pointing you in a new direction. Anything can be a miracle, a blessing, an opportunity if you choose to see it that way. Had I not been demoted from my six o’clock anchor post in Baltimore back in 1977, the talk show gig would never have happened when it did.

When you can see obstacles for what they are, you never lose faith in the path it takes to get you where you want to go. Because this I know for sure: Who you’re meant to be evolves from where you are right now. So learning to appreciate your lessons, mistakes, and setbacks as stepping-stones to the future is a clear sign you’re moving in the right direction.

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Keep Moving

Oprah Winfrey:

I know for sure that healing the wounds of the past is one of the biggest and most worthwhile challenges of life. It’s important to know when and how you were programmed, so you can change the program. And doing so is your responsibility, no one else’s. There is one irrefutable law of the universe: we are each responsible for our own life.

If you’re holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you’re wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive. Begin noticing how every day brings a new opportunity for your growth. How buried disagreements with your mother show up in arguments with your spouse. How unconscious feelings of unworthiness appear in everything you do (and don’t do). All these experiences are your life’s way of urging you to leave the past behind and make yourself whole. Pay attention. Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road. Keep moving. Full speed ahead.

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The 3 Month Rule

Danny Miranda:

The person others see you as today is the person you worked to become in the past 3 months.

Hypothetical example: You do all the “right things” for 10 years straight. Workout, eat right, meditate, read, etc. Then, you decide… “You know what… I don’t need to do this anymore. I already did it for 10 years.” So you stop doing them.

What happens next?

In the first week… nothing changes. You’re still jacked. You’re still well-read. You still have a clear head.

But over the next month or two…

Your personality *does* change. People start thinking “What’s up with this guy?” The slightest comment starts to irritate you.

By the end of the 3 months, your gut is sticking out. Your muscles are still there but they don’t pop like they used to. You’re fed up with everyone around you.

That’s all it takes.

3 months.

So what does that mean for you?

It means the inverse of this hypothetical situation is true as well.

If you’re not where you want to be, you’re 3 months away from living the life of your dreams. You need to do the disciplines daily…

But if you do…

In 3 months, people will be shocked (in the best way). And more importantly? You’ll be proud when you look in the mirror. Get after it. 👊 👊 👊

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Be Very Specific

Brené Brown:

You’re neurobiologically hardwired to care what people think. You have not hacked that. We care what people think. The deal is that you have to be very specific about people whose opinions of you matter. It’s not that you don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. Just don’t give a shit what some people think. And then really solicit feedback from the people that do give you good feedback.

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TK and Then Move On

Seth Godin:

The origin of the editor’s mark “TK” is murky. It’s what you write when there’s a fact or addition you’re waiting on. Instead of stopping everything, simply type “TK” and you know you can come back and fix it later.

The modern purpose of TK is that there are few words in English that contain these two letters juxtaposed in this way, so it’s super easy to use Word to search your manuscript. (Except for ‘latkes’ and ‘pocketknife.’) But I think it predates search.

The magic of TK is more interesting. The existence of TK means we don’t have to stop and wait for everything to be perfect before we proceed.

If the flooring for the kitchen hasn’t arrived yet, TK and then move on to wallpaper the dining room.

Our lives are filled with TK moments. It’ll come. No need to stop and wait for it.

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On Writing, Elizabeth Gilbert

Tidbits from a Copyblogger interview with Elizabeth Gilbert:

Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?

Clear off my schedule until I have a nice long block of empty time. Bow down. Ask for grace. Commit to the idea of collaborating with the book, not going to war against it. Cross fingers. Make a cup of tea. Begin.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Everything that needs to be done in my life has to be done before 11:00 am, or it won’t be done well, or may not even be done at all. I love the early hours because the world hasn’t tracked me down yet. My best mind is my mind at dawn, after a good night of sleep.

I usually wake up with the solution on the tip of my brain to the creative problem of yesterday, and then I go running to my desk to try to catch my intelligence before it drains out of my ears. By 2pm, I am useless for anything except simple manual labor.

Do you have any tricks for beating procrastination? Do you adhere to deadlines?

I abide by Goethe’s rule: “Never hurry, never rest.” I never go into crazy fugue states, but I don’t ever stop, either. I’m a plow mule. I’m very disciplined, and I have a great regard for deadlines — usually my own.

I was lucky enough to have had discipline instilled in me by my very organized and Calvinist mother, who taught us to work first and play later (and maybe not even play so much, actually).

She also taught us not to become perfectionists, which is where a lot of procrastination and time-wasting occurs. Nothing is less efficient than perfectionism. Her great adage, which I still adhere to, was:

Done is better than good.

I can tell you all kinds of specific things that are wrong with each of my books, but I’m not going to try fixing them, because then you fall down the wormhole, and the books are good enough already, and I want to move on to other things.

90% is truly good enough. There is not enough time in life to quest for perfection. Better to move forward. All this I learned from my mom. I was a lazy kid by nature, but my mother refused to allow me to become a lazy adult.


I think that loving one’s work is a marvelous trick for enjoying life. When people ask me if writing is hard or easy for me, I don’t even know how to answer that. Hard and easy don’t matter.

I don’t need writing to be easy; I just need it to be interesting.

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Questions of a Human Life

Elizabeth Gilbert:

My journey began with a series of questions. That’s how all journeys begin. The shape of my journey was a reflection of my own personal answers to those questions. The shape of your journey will be different from mine, but at bottom, our questions will be the same. These are not easy questions, by the way. They are merely the biggest and oldest questions of any human life:

  • Who am I?
  • Who does my life belong to?
  • What is my relationship to divinity?
  • What have I come here to do?
  • Do I have the right to change my own path?
  • With whom do I want to share my path — if anyone?
  • Do I have the right to experience pleasure and peace? If so, what would bring me pleasure and peace?
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What is the next right move?

Oprah Winfrey:

The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself:

What is the next right move?

Not think about “Ohhh, I had all of this…!” —

What is the next right move?

And then from that space, make the next right move. And the next right move.

And not to be overwhelmed by it, because you know your life is bigger than that one moment. You know you’re not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you, because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.

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Aldous Huxley, Island:

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…

See also: A State of Balance

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Long-Term Thinking

Jeff Bezos:

Long-term thinking is a lever. It lets you do things that you could not do or couldn’t even conceive of doing if you were thinking short-term.

If everything has to work in two to three years, then that limits what you can do. If you can give yourself the breathing room to say, “Okay. I’m okay if it takes seven years.” All of a sudden you have way more opportunities.

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