On finality, continuations, and discovery

On finality You haven't ended anything in a while. Your projects have not been big, so I can't say you've finished anything big, which is okay. However, today, you're done with a long run of writing that you assigned yourself three months ago with no end date, and it feels great. I expect you to continue to write every day, but this is a lesson in the end. You've decided on a purpose for this specific activity and in doing that you made it all worth it. This is what you and I live for. The end is not bad because it means there's something new coming. I'm not sure which you love more—the end of a project and the feeling of satisfaction of closing your case and leaving it behind, or the thrill of some new project awaiting you on the other side of what you just did. Either way, this is something worth chasing and it pushes you to ship more creative work in the future.

On continuations Though you've finished a long writing assignment (or did I do that for you?), your task of writing is not over. You must still follow through with the work required to make this into a book, and to make it beautiful for your reader. This is only the beginning of another process. Your practice of writing daily will also continue. You may choose a different subject matter or a different style of writing entirely, but you have to continue this practice. We've both seen the positive effects it had on you, not only as a writer but as a person. It might help you to take a look back at your life and examine the things that were good for you and try to continue those things if you stopped. I know you're having trouble getting up early in the morning,  but we saw the positive effects of that and it should be continued. There may be other things you used to do that have fallen away and may be of value.

On discovery Finding new music, learning something new in a book, and traveling are all the same feeling of discovery, and they're (at least to you) awesome experiences. However, in order to find new music, you have to stop playing the same selection of records you've always played. To learn, you have to pick up a new book. To travel, you have to spend money  and get on a plane—or get in your car and drive for a long time. It takes effort. Are you willing to put in the effort to reveal something new about the world?

On frugality and the writer's life

On frugality The challenge of being frugal is the requirement that you say no to more. You'll have to say no to eating out all the time, to buying new things, to making impulsive purchases—any other answer would lead down a slippery slope of spending. What I'm talking about isn't being cheap, either. An impulsive purchase of food you could've eaten at home is far different than buying a tool or investing in a business. Nonetheless, you have to say no and this is painful if you truly desire the things you deny. It will feel sacrificial and brutal at times. Your solution is not to be iron-willed and develop the ability to say no to any and all temptations. That is far too difficult when you could question your desires themselves. Why do I want to eat out tonight? Why do I want to buy this gadget? Why do I desire these pieces of clothing? You'll often find misplaced priorities. You want new clothing because it makes you look better in the eyes of others rather than it bringing you peace. You want a new gadget because you've been advertised to and told you're behind the times. You want to eat out tonight because you can't stand to tell somebody no. Once you realize these root desires, you will hopefully be able to think of your decisions more in terms of fixing your desires than in fixing the actions that come from them.

On the writer's life You probably barely remember, but a couple months ago you were sitting in a Starbucks and you met a copywriter who worked at a large ad agency. As you spoke to her about what she does and what you're doing, she told you—like many have—to live a little and not work too hard. You can't be a great writer if you haven't lived a life to write about, she said with a striking gaze of youth and wisdom. Though she couldn't have been more than thirty years old, her status and advice demanded attention and respect. This was a woman who had lived the writer's life. You work hard, and I can't say it's a bad thing, but you have to go experience more and do more with your life than just work. It's not about taking a "gap year" to go find yourself in the mountains and figure out what you want to do with your life, it's about living the truth. The truth is that you haven't experienced a damn thing yet, but you can change that in a variety of ways. Give yourself a license to do more and have more fun. Say that it's all in the name of having something to write about.

On overwhelm and resistance

On overwhelm Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with small daily tasks and habits at the cost of your ability to do the bigger projects and spend lots of  time on your work in a given day. If you had all of your time to yourself every single day, you would have no excuse not to fulfill everything on your task list. However, too many days you don't live such a situation so it's difficult to hold yourself to that standard while also working on more important things. You get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing instead of tackling each task one at a time. On the other hand, most of the days when you fail to be industrious are not a matter of you being busy. You either started the day off wrong and didn't wake up early, or you got off to a bad start by refusing to work when you did get up late, or you ate too quickly—all things that contribute to your slothfulness. Let's not reduce your work to nothing just because you've had a bad couple days and failed. You don't need life to be much easier—it's already straightforward enough. The best way to tackle your overwhelm in the face of so many tasks is to be single-minded in the way you approach them. Some things on your daily task list require mere minutes from you—have intense focus for a few minutes and get them done. The earlier and quicker you can do this, the better because your mind will not waste any energy in thinking about the fact you have to do it in the first place. On larger projects that may take hours at a time, put yourself on the clock and schedule yourself to "go to work" on them. Write it on a schedule and allow yourself not to deviate from that. This hearkens to Steven Pressfield's idea of turning pro and showing up to work at creativity rather than creativity showing up to work you. These are all systems, but in the end it falls to your willingness to get to work and make something happen. Do not fall to resistance. Resist it with strength by any means possible.

On resistance Perhaps part of your problem with being lazy has been your lack of naming the enemy. You used to get up super early in the morning because the enemy [Resistance] told you not to. You overcame that enemy every day you got up early and lost the battle every time you slept in. Unfortunately, you haven't been in this warlike mindset and it might cost you valuable days of your life.

On appreciation and anger

On appreciation It doesn't take much to be an appreciative and caring person. That's not to say your goal is to put in the least amount of effort yet appear to be a good person. No, life isn't all about appearances. It's very simple to show love and appreciate another person. If someone's walking in behind you, hold a door—small action, but effective. Smile more. It's the little things. However, you can also do things that are more special to make people feel good. Shoot someone an email to let them know you've been thinking of them. Send a thank-you note. Give them a handwritten letter—something unusual that takes effort means much more than an automated message or a even a smile (though a smile is surely powerful). I want to see you go out of your way and do the things that nobody else wants to do or will put in the effort to do. This might also be showing appreciation to people who aren't as relevant in your life. You may have great words to say to your mother on mother's day or to a significant other on their birthday, but what about the friend you had in school who recently became a father? What about the young man who is about to leave for the military who you spoke to a handful of times in the last few years? These people aren't an active part of your life, but a small message and word of encouragement can go a long way. You might feel weird doing it, but it would mean the world to you if they did the same. You also shouldn't be disappointed if nobody else returns the favor or even cares, because that's not why you do it in the first place. That only validates the fact you're doing something others are hesitant to do, which makes your actions all the more important.

On anger You cannot anger yourself when you fail at something or don't live up to your own standards. For one, that's not going to get you any closer to success. You'll only become less focused and more spent on your emotions. Second, you're believing blatant lies when you do that. Your worth in life does not come from your ability to play chess or hit a cue ball correctly, as much as it may feel like it. Not to mention, the games and skills in front of you are not the most important thing in your life. You know you have other work and projects to be doing that must be taken care of. Your anger at these matters is trivial and should be avoided. Control it.

On projects and spaces

On projects You do very well when you have a project with a start an end date. For example, with your first book you were able to bring tasks to completion with ease and wake up crazy early to do it. You were motivated not only by the beginning of something new but the prospect of finishing it so you could start another project. At work, you have some new projects and you seem to be happier because those tasks are clear and they have direction and even a start an end date. You can see the end vision even if you don't know the full impact it will have; which is okay! Always give yourself a project, at least where it's appropriate. For example, people are not projects. You should not treat them like some sort of puzzle or intellectual challenge—they are people. In addition, obligations don't have to be projects, either. Laundry is very simple and takes no more than five minutes of effort at a time—why turn it into anything more convoluted? Even your writing practice doesn't always have to be a project. You could give yourself writing prompts that are detached from the rest of your work and seem to have no significance rather than being connected to some larger task. Or, you could frame a daily practice as a project, like you have with your reflections project. (Who are you writing those to?) Perhaps you could practice creative nonfiction writing by writing ninety days of stories from your day-to-day experience. That would make a small task into a project and possibly easier to achieve. No matter what, you do well with projects, so take advantage of that even if it's a psychological ploy to make you focus.

On spaces You seem to enjoy being in the office after hours, left to your own devices. It's fun, and you get time to be in your own head to work on your own thing. The space that you're in—the noise from the bars below, the quiet inside the room when nobody is there, the little amount of light peering in from the streetlights outside...it creates an atmosphere in which you're able to do great work. You should recreate such a space wherever you go. Take care to put yourself in a good spot to do your work, your reading, or your writing. If you are distracted, move elsewhere. Much like sleeping, putting yourself in a good physical place is a proactive way to make yourself happier and more peaceful as you work on whatever your labor consists of.

On inclusion, missing out, and genre

On inclusion In a new group of people, your natural tendency is to introduce yourself to everyone and make friends quick so that you're not in an awkward position for too long. To you, it's common sense and it's hard to make you uncomfortable around strangers. Good for you, but your guests may not always feel the same way. If you bring someone along with you to a gathering, you have a responsibility to use your skill to connect with people to help them connect with people. You have to pick up the slack, because you know you can. It's about making those around you more comfortable. Help them feel included. You don't do a great job of it all the time, perhaps because you're too distracted with your own interactions to worry about others, or you believe that everyone else should figure it out on your own just like you do. However, that's a bad argument for not helping because we both know you need help in certain situations and if you didn't have this help, you might never figure it out. Be the leader and help when you see someone feeling distant from the interaction of the group or uncomfortable in any way.

On missing out The only thing you're missing out on is what you did not and will not do in your own life—not what everyone else is doing in theirs.

On genre What is it that you write? Do you have a term for this genre of writing? Are the Moral Letters a self-help book? Is the 33 Strategies of War a business book? Is The Win Without Pitching Manifesto philosophy? Arguments could be made in any direction for these books because they mean so much more than what their titles let on. As a reader, it doesn't matter because it's your job to synthesize the knowledge into something applicable to your life no matter what. However, what about as a writer? How do you sell these works when you're not sure what they are or how to categorize them? Better yet, if you don't know what they are, how much form can you give them to comply with a certain genres "standards"? As you read True Stories, Well Told by Lee Gutkind, you realized that an entire genre was birthed in the last 20–30 years. Literature has been alive and well for a long time before that. The  fact is that your writing should be valuable in some way, and this is the principle of every great piece of prose or poetry ever created. Perhaps it's entertaining, or it's practical, or it's profound and inspiring—maybe it teaches you to live a better life, or it teaches you nothing at all and is enjoyable to consume. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter the genre. You can mix and match whatever the hell you want—I give you permission—to create something worth reading. Value is your only consideration.

On defensiveness and honesty

On defensiveness You're just wrong on a lot of things. There's no way around it. Will you react with feigned confidence even though you know you should be different? Or will you put aside your pride and change? Or, are the changes you need to make so against the grain of your nature that you cannot make them? I think you're horrible at communicating and a little too abrasive, but I could just as easily argue for you to be more abrasive because it is more effective. What might help is some sort of model to live up to. You have these in the form of influences you've listened to and heard speak—the ones that make you feel good and inspire you are the ones you wish to emulate. Maybe there's a more principled figure who is a nearly perfect communicator to model yourself after. It might also be true that your goal isn't to please everyone but to have resolve in your principle and how that comes out in your speech and actions in general. If this is the case, you'll have to develop thick skin against those who will inevitably despise the way you communicate. The balance between communicating the way you should, even though it hurts, and pleasing everyone without getting things done is a fine line to walk on.

On should Even the most basic values you hold are not shared by the rest of the world. Is it good to be healthy? Of course. Is it valuable enough to pursue with  your time and money? To many, it is not, even though they would agree it is good to be healthy. Is it good to be nice? Perhaps, though many see it as a burden in the world of business and competition they live in. They may not even value kindness towards themselves, while another person might live their life based on how benevolent they can be towards others. Of all the actions you can take in a given day, your there are few measuring sticks by which you can measure them. For one, your actions should be honest. Ulterior motives have to be rid away in favor for clarity of purpose. If you speak only to further your interests and status, then you are not being honest with yourself or the people around you. You would be better off saying to the group, "I am here to promote myself and make myself look better in your eyes, and will proceed to try and do so for the next half-hour." That would be better than lying about your reasoning. Honesty will also serve you well to speak for your own interests and maintain your happiness. If you are miserable at work, you should say something. If you're miserable in a relationship, say something. If someone else is being miserable, say something, too. That's not to say you should be rude and cover it with a veil of truth, because that is not accurate. Those who cover meanness with a spirit of revealing the truth are not being honest themselves because they just want to be mean. The one thing you should be, at all times, whether internally or externally, is honest. 

On being down and disappointing

On being down So, what? You lost a game of chess or missed a shot in pool. Why does that have to destroy your sense of self? Perhaps you are tired and more volatile in the face of your failures. Your actions are not the way of an equanimous man. Remember all that you know. For one, the obstacle is the way. When you fail, you have reached a point of growth and you should cherish it and take advantage of it. Second, ego is the enemy. If you are disappointed in your blunders because they destroy your sense of self, it is because you value who you think you are too much. Your pride is easily destroyed and cannot be your primary driving force. Third, equanimity. You cannot indulge in every rise and fall that occurs because you will not experience any consistent peace. Control these impulses and you will live a more steady life.

On disappointing Who do you disappoint when you fail? Is it your God, who you believe has placed you on this planet to be industrious and productive? Maybe he has, but it doesn't seem like you are grieving at every second that you're not "at work." There's no addiction to it, from what I can tell. Is it your parents? Friends? Those who love you and hate you? I don't see you value their opinions in the slightest on every other matter, so even if you are disappointing them, that should not affect you. One possible explanation I want you to ponder is pride. When you lose a game, it's as if your ego has been damaged and your existence blemished by yet another failure. You seem to view nearly every mishap in this light—that somehow, your story is not as glorious as it might otherwise be. Not as triumphant. Even in your search for work and purpose, you are frustrated because you don't live up to the legends of Jobs, Chanel, Fischer, O'Sullivan, Da Vinci, or anyone close to them. But how misplaced is your focus that you want to write your story based on these people you so admire? How intentional can you be about your life path before it becomes narcissistic and detrimental to your existence? You disappoint nobody but yourself. To hell with the idea that you are destined for anything—greatness or doom. You trying to predict where you will end up is futile. You have your work today and today only. What else is there to worry about? Be more like the flowers who toil not than the two kings with their hearts bent at evil—for if you are more like the latter it will be to no avail.

On defaults, deadlines, and strategic reading

On defaults Though I don't remember what I told you, I am positive that I've written to you about defaults. What are those currently for you? Rather, what should they be? For one, reading should always be at the top of the list. In the last 24 hours, if you would have spent all of your distracted minutes on reading, you would've finished the book you are currently on. Alas, you didn't. What about writing? You have another project to work on and you know how you can make progress on it—why don't you do that? You have to be proactive in these things. Set your goals early and stick to them. You are setting a rhythm, much like a boxer does at the beginning of the fight. Start with a game plan, get hit, maintain your rationality, and win a fight. If you fail to set the rhythm and stick to it and control the pace of the fight, you will become wore down slowly but surely. The best boxers are so well trained that even in their most tired moments, they default to an exceptional game plan and style of fighting. This is what you must do in your fight against sloth and distractions.

On deadlines I've seen you read books in hours—not days—and soak up every bit of information they have. On the other hand, I've seen you take two months to read a single book and retain little of the information. The books I've seen read fast are not even captivating, per se. They are not Pulitzer prize winners or exceptionally written. The difference is that you have a deadline. With Daniel Coyle's The Culture Code, you gave yourself until the following morning to read the book, and everything else that you had to do completely fell away. As if it never existed in the first place. I recommend you set yourself more of these deadlines, but take care that they aren't extreme. If you set yourself lofty goals and never meet them, you'll get used to this version of failure and desensitize yourself to it. On the other hand, if you set tiny goals that don't mean much, you won't have achieved anything in the end. If your deadlines are realistic but challenging, they will push you to do great things, such as read books with amazing speed and clarity.

On strategic reading What do you need to know right now? What one book would change the way you function forever after reading it? That's the one you should be reading. By looking to the knowledge you need at any given time, you will have a strategy for the things you learn rather than a mere taste. Perhaps you need to become a better writer right now—get through a book which helps with that, write down your lessons, and immediately apply them. In this way, you will keep your reading consistently on-topic and useful.

On community and initiative

On community The value of being around other people is dependent on how receptive you are to taking in their ideas and viewpoints. You know this to be true because of the cliques you see in the world who are not improving each other but reinforcing their already held beliefs. Plenty of people stay on their side of the aisle at all times so their views are never challenged and therefore they never feel uncomfortable. However, you're as defensive as anybody when you get around people who don't think you're correct. Inevitably, you're not right on everything, so you shouldn't be uncomfortable with that. However, we need to address what you think the remedies are. For one, you could become as intelligent and knowledgeable as possible and be comfortable in all situations because you know you're never wrong. Of course, that's impossible and therefore you shouldn't aim for this at all. In that case, what is your remedy? To be humble. In humility, you are never wrong, only learning. By being a willing and able pupil, other people will feel in control of the situation as they lead you along a better path of understanding. Not to mention, most of the time it will be true that you need their leadership. You're not and never will be an expert on everything—embrace everyone around you as your teacher.

On initiative Much like a chess player will lose a piece for the initiative, or will lose one part of his position for activity, you have to be able to lose all the distractions that tempt you and take control of the reins. You have to stick and move at all times and be single-mindedly focused on your one and only initiative. Consider everything else a problem. Some things you cannot push to completion in one swift motion, because they require time. That's okay, but while you are spending time on those projects, should you not be invigorated make it great? I say this because you completely lost the initiative at all points of the day. You were reactive the entire time and never proactively decided on what you would do. You did not set any goals. You did not take the reins—rather, your impulses, distractions, conversations, entertainment—they all took a hold of you. Escape before it's too late and you realize you've lost an entire day. Do something drastic to change the position and take the initiative back with a force.

On averages, enterprise, and putting your back against the wall

On averages Think of each day as a contribution to your overall batting average of activity. For instance, some days you will hit a home run (or two, or three), and other days you will barely make it to first base. This is natural, because in a state of growth, you cannot possibly expect to be consistent and steady 24/7. However, there are some things you can make steady. For example, if you're a baseball player, you might not hit a home run every game, but you can practice to be a better batter every day. Similarly, you may not write a genius article every day (or every month), but you can still put words on paper. The new system you are trying out to enforce some good habits is excellent because it makes sure that—if nothing else—you've done the core things that matter. Hold yourself accountable to this, even on the unexciting days.

On enterprise You offer your skills as a service to other people, but I can't imagine that your abilities to write for yourself are perfect for every other person on the planet. You have to be very picky and choosy about who you decide to work for—if anyone at all. It's possible that your best path in the long term is not to ghostwrite for others but to build sustainable, steady income around your own writing practice. After all, when you take on your own voice, it's hard to argue that your ghostwritten articles are better than that. In the meantime, though, I'm not telling you not to pursue the work, because you will improve your skill immensely. Your articles and writing for others has already grown in quality tenfold and will continue to do so. However, think about this grand growth in skill as part of a broader plan—to make yourself a better writer and make yourself more capable to do your best work for your own audience.

On putting your back against the wall Though you don't need to move out anytime soon, it might be an excellent strategy to instill some fight in you. You are comfortable now and that is your enemy because it allows you to stagnate. You don't have to take on certain deals or business opportunities because you, in all honesty can say you don't need the money. However, you may experience much more growth if you do need the money and are forced to learn from those experiences.

On solutions, flexibility, and sharing

On solutions If you're solving a problem, you might think there is only one solution, but you'd be wrong a lot of the time. No billionaire gained their wealth in the exact same way. They are not all following the exact same rules (though there may be common principles and practices). No one company grows in the exact same manner as another. The copycats, of course, try to, and they fail quickly because they present nothing new or specially valuable to the market. You have to recognize when you are looking for a silver bullet, 100% solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Alternatively, you might be paralyzed by an array of solutions to choose from—most of which are equal in risk and reward. In those situations, you have to ask yourself if there is a standout, or if the difference between them is negligible. If the differences don't matter, then you shouldn't waste your time deciding. Rather, you should seize the initiative and start making things happen, even if it means you make a small mistake in the beginning. At least you will learn quickly rather than waste your life away contemplating.

On flexibility For all the structure you pride yourself on, I warn you not to become so engrossed in it so as to be inflexible at all times. For new experiences, will have to break routine. Do not view this as discomfort or even a necessary evil. In fact, your routines are more evil than the unexpected events that will occur in your life. That's not to say you shouldn't have some sort of  expectation every day—it keeps you productive and progressing. However, it can quickly turn into a matter of comfort to stick to those things. It is secure, and you know the outcomes of those activities. So long as your habits, schedules, and routines don't hinder your ability to break your own laws, you should be fine. Consider this a call to break form and rebel against your own expectations every once in a while. 

On sharing One of the best ways to foster a connection between two people or a group is to share a vision or desire for the future. You also have to make that vision of the future clear with a strategy. If it's only you on the mission, you still have to have this vision and grand strategy—as Robert Greene would call it—even if nobody else knows. But if you're leading a team and nobody knows the final vision, that could be problematic. Robert Greene would also advise you to create a deceptive end goal and rally your troops with that, even though you have an alternate scheme. I can't recommend such artifice to you, but it serves the point that an army with an enemy (and thus a goal) fights well.

On sentences and patience

On sentences As you know, our correspondences will soon be coming to an end. I've committed to writing to you for ninety days, and we are only a handful away from that being over. Perhaps you will still want me to correspond with you, though I can't guarantee that it will happen. However, I do want to recommend a writing practice of your own: compose one sentence that summarizes a feeling or significant event in your life. It's a compelling thought experiment on a daily basis. For one, you have to make a decision on the one theme or happening you will address with your small amount of ammunition. In addition, you can't explain much, so you might have to employ other means. Maybe that's an analogy or a variation on a saying, but no matter what, you have to get creative. It's also a fun way to exercise your simplifying muscle. You can't talk in detail, so you find out what's truly important rather than wasting your words (like I do) on the rest of it.

On patience Frustration is not a driving factor in your ability to do great work, and neither is impatience. The distinction has to be made between a childish inability to wait and a desire to push to completion. If you want results now and are focused on outcomes, you'll become frustrated when they don't come as quick as you want them to. On the other hand, if you are clear about the work you need to do and are eager to get it done, that's a different story. You shouldn't become frustrated but only more ready to bear down and labor away. In creative endeavors, it's all the more important to be patient but diligent. You won't create the perfect solution to every problem you encounter within the first sixty seconds of contemplating it. If you become frustrated, you'll only distract yourself from creativity itself and you'll make no progress. I should also address your recent problems with your own abilities. Those are due in large part to you being impatient. Though I'm not saying you should delay your efforts until you have more knowledge or study—in fact, delaying for that reason would make you as slow as the students who choose to go to college without first studying on their own. However, you don't have to be at peak condition now. You don't have to be in your prime 24/7. I wish you a great and steady career and life, but you will have a rise, a fall, and hopefully, another rise. You will learn, fail, succeed, and everything in between. You're in the learning phase and that's okay. Embrace it and do your best learning possible to prepare yourself for a future of success.

On inability, silence, and quantity

On inability You're not as talented as you want to believe you are. You will be in the future, but you're not now. However, I know you want to be at a certain level of skill and value, and until you reach it, you feel as if you're not valuable at all. That's fair—so long as you act on your desire. If it pushes you to learn more and immerse yourself in the areas you want to make an impact in, then your standards have done their job. However, the frustration you feel doesn't seem to be helping. Your goal isn't just to make an impact—even the lowest employee on the totem pole makes an impact, otherwise, they would be fired. It's to make the most impact that you're capable of, but also to be pleased with the impact you bring. So far, you haven't done it. You might not have the ability to, but you're not far off.

On silence In your frustration, it's a good thing that you retreat to silence. The only problem is that it reveals your present state, and if you're not careful, others will take advantage of knowing when you are frustrated and try to put you on edge. Nonetheless, I'm glad to see you taking my advice of not talking. Still, you could be silent earlier. It's logical that in order for your silence in frustration to mean anything, you had been talking beforehand. It precedes all of your failures—so why don't you talk less in the beginning? Especially when you have nothing to say and there is nothing to talk about. In most of your conversations, I heard you say nothing. Nothing of value, nothing worth hearing, and none of it helped you progress. It was an outward expression of your inability to get out of your head. Figure out direction first, and then contemplate whether a conversation will help you get there.

On quantity Though you should be plenty attentive to quality, you also need to keep working and keep your output up. Take a look at Bob Dylan—massive amounts of records and songs, of which many became legendary. Similarly, see Seth Godin's collection of over a dozen books and a daily blog—constant creation. The Beatles performed live so many times that it's hard to quantify how much practice they got, and it made them much, much better. The point is that you have some ideas you want to push to completion, and one at a time, you should churn them out the best you can. For the books you want to create, remember that you can always create a second edition. No worries. You'll learn in the process and the next one will be better. 

On forgiveness, sensitivity, and sweets

On forgiveness In order to lead others, you have to be much quicker to forgiveness. Your impulse, like most people's, is to hold a grudge and be frustrated with the other person, but what has that ever accomplished? It's never righted a wrong or mended a relationship. There's no point in trying it. On the other hand, forgiveness allows for much to happen, including an improvement of the situation. That's not to say forgiveness is a cure-all for any sort of conflict, but it is a great step to take. If nothing else, you should be forgiving because it's what you would want for yourself. Often, the moments when you need to forgive someone are the same moments you should be saying sorry to someone else. Would you not want them to accept your apology? Would you not want mercy extended upon you?

On sensitivity Some topics are too touchy to talk about, though you don't know that every time. You don't know what's happened to another person or how they will react, so you can't beat yourself up for saying something they react adversely to. However, if you know someone is sensitive to a certain topic, it's your responsibility to remember and be courteous of that. You're responsible for that, and it's a big task because you now have power over them. You've seen them vulnerable because of what you said, and if you were evil, you could bring that up to them and make them feel horrible about themselves. You have too much power to wield, and in order to be trusted with that, you have to be sensitive to others. The man with a sword carries it because of the power it has over others. He would be foolish to act as if his blade had no strength and could deal no damage.

On sweets What is impressive about someone indulging in dessert? Who, faced with sweets, wouldn't eat them? Anyone has the power to listen to their compulsion to eat more, but few have the ability to ignore indulgence. That is the power you should aim to have. It applies to all sorts of indulgence, too. Is it hard to refuse losing your temper? Yes, challenge yourself to do so, because it will set you apart from the rest who have no thought of keeping themselves under control. Is it hard to not indulge in gossip and be distracted by today's fleeting news? It must be, considering the people around you can't take their eyes and ears off it. Again, challenge yourself to control your impulses. It is difficult, but don't eat the sweets.

On paranoia and history

On paranoia Take gains and losses with the same indifferent reaction. Why are you worried at all at the possible downturn of anything? Your paranoia will only serve to make a poor outcome more likely. If a book succeeds and sells hundreds of thousands of copies, you shouldn't react whatsoever. Think Bill Belichick. However, that's because it prevents you from having to react if you don't sell hundreds of thousands of copies (because you won't.) Even better, it prevents you from being a downer if success is ever taken from you through force or sheer unluckiness. If you at any point allow your desire to be strong, you lose leverage because what you desire can be taken from you. I see how that's happening, so make it stop. Immediately—otherwise, you will lose it all. That's not me telling you to be paranoid.

On history Of the greatest creators to ever live, how significant were their lives in the scheme of all history? How many of them can claim to have been different than the rest of the world? None of them, for they all suffer the same fate—death—and leave themselves to the whims of the future that will replace them, just like they did the past they were faced with. So far, this sounds gloomy, but it's all to say—if what they did was so insignificant and small compared to the rest of the world's history, what excuse do you have to not make similar things happen? Perhaps that won't be your express purpose as you do it, but history shouldn't discourage you. These figures you look up to are the same type of human you are. Dylan dealt with heartbreak. Jobs dealt with perfectionism. Chanel dealt with a lack of satisfaction from her work. What will make you any different? Either, one, nothing will make you different except for the impact you create, or two, you will find a different path to satisfaction and fulfillment that doesn't involve creation or works. There's a solution, though you'll be hesitant to accept it as so. It may even lead you to the same place as some of these great people, but the path you use to get there will create a far different legacy. It might also lead to a life of mere humility and no recognition along with it. You'll have to accept that, which I foresee you having trouble with. 

On punctuality, getting in your own head, and brevity

On punctuality I'm surprised you were able to meet your deadline! Considering the fact you set the deadline for yourself and saw it come up on your calendar days in advance, why did you ever need to procrastinate? Nobody else was imposing their will upon you to write for this Sunday, yet you could not get yourself to do it. Where did the non-belief in writer's block go? Surely you don't believe that now there is such a thing. In fact, this should only solidify your credence in being able to create ideas on demand. After all, with hours to spare, you created a small piece of writing deemed acceptable to be shown to many people. Suffice this to say, you didn't have to rush yourself or worry about the deadline. You chose to. Just like there is no such thing as writer's block, there is not a mystical force called procrastination preventing you from doing your work. There is only you and your work. Waiting to be done.

On getting in your own head Perhaps it is a symptom of you not getting out of your own head as we talked about a few weeks ago. You seem to be tunneling into your mind on the most trivial of issues as if you are supposed to worry about them at all. Meaningless issues that you concern yourself with, but for what? And, why? My only observation is that you don't need to think or worry about the things you do, and that when you do, it makes no positive effect on your life. Is that not enough for you to make a decision to think different thoughts? Not to mention, you're being self-centered by being in your own head. You're failing to acknowledge your insignificance. Though that might be difficult to come to terms with—especially for you—the struggle of believing it's a bad thing must be worked through. No matter what you do, that will be the nature of your situation as a mere human being. Congratulations! This is the position you play. Another body and soul to exist for a handful of decades with slim chances of leaving anything behind. Will you wallow in this fact feeling bad for yourself or will you live your life ten times differently and stop focusing on "impact" only as it applies to your legacy?

On brevity Become more comfortable in the midst of fewer words. You don't always have to be speaking and nor does anyone else. Similarly, you should be okay with times when your writing doesn't turn into a long-form tirade about a certain subject. If you can make your point in fewer words, do it.

On importance and questioning

On importance You question the importance and value of your writing a lot. So much so that you want to give up on writing and keep to yourself. Head down. Mouth shut. Writing about nothing. That's fine—if you're so worried about being important in the first place. The two remedies to this mindset are either to provide amazing value in your writing, or to stop worrying about how "important" your writing is. For the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of words that Benjamin Franklin wrote, how many of them are still important? They may still be a part of history, but even one of our greatest diplomats exists only as a fixture of history. Jefferson surely had a hand in many great pieces of writing, but history only remembers one of them as significant. So, what? Your articles are not changing the world. They might never. Your ideas are not novel and you're not hailed as a genius because of your words. Is that why you did it in the first place? Of course not. Keep writing, improving your skill, and creating ideas. Not in hopes that you go down in history as a Jefferson or a Hemingway—only in hopes that one day, you look back on your work and with resolve, say, "I wouldn't have had it any other way."

On questioning As Tommy says in Goodfellas, "I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning." The most powerful tool for breaking your assumptions down to first principles is to question them. You have to probe your own understanding to be honest with yourself, because that is what everyone else will do when they hear or see what you believe. Much like in a debate, you have to actively seek out the holes in your case that will lead to your defeat. You may fold under questioning, but fold when you're questioning yourself and not when the market itself makes you answer its demands. At the same time, you don't have to answer to every question. Some things you must be delusional about and believe in when nobody else does, and that requires a large amount of self-awareness to do. Even then, you could still find a way to answer many questions about why you have a steadfast belief in what you do. When someone comes bearing concerns and doubts, don't shoot the messenger—embrace them. You will be better for it even though their questions feel annoying in the moment.

On bouncing back and ideas

On bouncing back You must be resilient to failures of any kind, but especially your own. You cannot control the rest of the world so when something "fails" or doesn't go according to the plan you had, there's not much to bounce back from. You cope with the fact that you can't control it. On the other hand, when you fail and there is no one else to blame, you have to bounce back quickly. If you don't, you'll fall into a cycle of self-pity that leads you nowhere. In addition, if you are able to recover and assess yourself you can fix the problems, unlike all the other problems you encounter in the world. Take advantage of this control and develop a propensity to take command when you realize you've done the wrong thing. In that moment, you need a leader. This might come through your own reasoning faculty, but in addition, it must come from a higher form of reason. Your God, that of reason, mercy, grace, abounding forgiveness and love will save you from your own faults. For how else are you to live? If you paid attention only to your ability to reason, you would come to the conclusion that you are a failure and a lost cause. That's not irrational, it's true. You will never be perfect, you will never be the best, you will never be the man that you know you should be. At this point, your own thinking falls short and you must turn to your God, whom you should've turned to long ago. What is this higher form of reason that you can't access through your mind alone? What does it stand for and how does it change the way you operate? Perhaps it changes nothing about the way you operate but allows you to live in peace with your own imperfections and blunders. If nothing else, you will have something to take solace in, and it is the insignificance of you and your missteps. The smallness of your existence compared to the rest of the people and the rest of history. Only through recognizing and embracing a higher power can you experience this peace.

On ideas Stop talking about your ideas and start executing on them. It's such a shame to see you think about plenty of cool things that you can do and stand between the ideas like Buridian's ass. What is stopping you from creating your next book or getting your next contract? Who is stopping you? Yourself only. The sad part is that nothing I can say to you will spur you to action. Only you, while wallowing in the pain of not starting your work, can come to the realization that I am right and you should begin immediately. I'll look forward to that moment.

On projection, mission, and monetizing

On projection Negative energy can be projected onto you and you can project it onto others. If you listen to other people consistently portray hatred and misery, that can seep into your own thoughts and words. In addition, if you are the projector of negative energy, you might just as quickly make the people around you miserable. As a leader, you cannot do this. In fact, you have to neutralize all of the harmful projection that bad apples do and turn the environment into a positive one. It only takes one person to lead towards bad or good for the rest of the group to follow. It matters only that they lead, not that they lead to the right place. Recognize this and step up as the leader when it is necessary.

On mission Whatever your mission is, focus on it with everything you've got. In fact, utilize one of the strategies of war and make it your only escape route. In order to move on, this gauntlet must be overcome first. Those with a lot to lose venture not to lose at all, while those with nothing to lose have the audacity to match their ambition. In your position, you have much comfort to lose, so I advise you to put yourself in uncomfortable situations that force you to adapt and change. In addition, push yourself to do things before you are ready. If you're not sure whether you can complete a certain project, push yourself to do it anyway. It will expand your boundaries quicker—no, it will expand your boundaries. That is it. If you don't dive in to the deep end, you'll never dive in at all. Perhaps at one point you should move to a new city and risk all security to gain new experience and see what creative ways of surviving, making money, and living you come up with. The one thing you must believe is that you will survive. You will not fail, so long as you stay focused on the mission and only the step in front of you.

On monetizing There are plenty of ways to monetize the work you can do, but only a few of those are correct. For one, you could take on freelance work as a writer. You seem to enjoy it, though it's a matter of spending more hours in the day on the work itself rather than living. If this is what you consider life, then by all means, you should find more ways to write. Perhaps it is now, but it won't be forever. In the future, maybe you'll monetize your abilities by working at a company in a more senior leadership position and leading teams of people—but don't let this get to your head. You are young, inexperienced, and prone to overestimate your own abilities. Jump in early if you can, but do not expose your ambition so as to force other people to kill it. Work hard in doing the work itself, not in pursuing the future work. The problem with you is that you are in-between two extremes. On one hand, you don't need any money currently and that's an extraordinary piece of leverage that allows you to save rather than spend. On the other hand, you'd like to begin monetizing this work with the fervor of someone who desperately needs it. Choose a path wisely, but don't straddle. Leverage the advantages of whatever situation you find yourself in.