Thought Catalog

You Want Games, I Want Love

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 07:00 PM PST

Brynna Spencer
Brynna Spencer

You like mixed signals and vague responses
I like honesty and clear messages
You like challenges and riddles
I like peace and finding solutions

You like to be unsure of where we stand
You like to be somewhere in between
You like it undefined
So you can define it

I like to be sure of what we're doing
I like to know that I'm the only one
I like to know that this is something real
I don’t want another blurred relationship

You like options and choices
You like to be with a different girl each day
I like consistency and stability
I like seeing you every day

You want to take your time until you're ready
I like to jump right in and make myself ready
Because life is too short to wait
It’s too short for maybes and almosts 

You want things complicated
Because that's all you know
I want things simple
Because that's all I need

You want games
I want love
You want to play
But I'm not a toy. TC mark

Why I’m Quitting My Job Without Having A Plan

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 06:00 PM PST

 Seth Doyle
Seth Doyle

I’m about to do one the craziest things I’ve ever done in my life.

I’m quitting my job. With no backup plan. After I just bought a house. While my boyfriend is out on disability.

If bad timing was an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal.

But I realized the other night, in the middle of a panic attack, that I can’t keep living like this. Getting home late every night, being too drained to do anything except lie on my couch and watch re-runs of Teen Mom, thinking about work every second that I’m not there, feeling physically sick every morning, arguing with myself to get out of bed, constantly doubting myself, and genuinely hating the person I’ve become. Finding no joy in life whatsoever.

I remember being jealous that my co-worker broke her leg because she didn’t have to come to work for a month. I remember back in college when my schedule was much more hectic than it is now, but I still found time to sing in a band, engage in several independent writing projects, and have genuinely good times with family and friends.

I don’t remember the last time I did something that wasn’t work or crying. I realized that it’s not fair to myself. That I am responsible for my own happiness.

I realized it’s not fair to my family. That I’ve been pulling away and have become this miserable creature who always wants to be alone. I realized it’s not fair to my clients. Because if I don’t feel confident doing my job, can’t help them to the fullest extent possible.

Everyone says not to quit your job unless you have a new one. Or at least a plan of some sort. And it’s not like I haven’t been applying. But this job has made me so stressed out, so distracted, so unmotivated, that I know I won’t be able to figure anything out as long as I stay.

I know that I’m potentially looking at a pay cut. I know that I’m potentially going to be working 3 part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Jobs that I swore I’d never have to work again because I paid my dues and was now a professional. I have enough money saved that I can live comfortably for the next few months.

Am I afraid of what could happen if months go by and I don’t find anything? Absolutely. But I’m more afraid of what will happen if I stay.

To me, to my family, and to the clients whose lives I could damage from not having the courage to walk away when the time is right. TC mark

FYI, It’s Cool To Care About Things

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 05:00 PM PST

Brooke Cagle
Brooke Cagle

I’m a shrieker.

And no, you perv, not in some sexual way (though tbh, I’m pretty loud there too), but when I get excited about something, I shriek. I’ve got a bad case of hyena laughter. And when I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while? You bet I’m reaching some high-pitched frequencies only dogs can hear.

I can’t help it. I’ve never known how to contain my enthusiasm.

On a trip with an old-coworker once, between fits of silliness and me probably doing something over-the-top, she described me as a real-life emoji. And she was 100% right.

I wear my emotions on my face. I’ve never been good at hiding how I feel.

There’s this brand of disinterest, of total apathy, that I don’t understand. People joke they have black hearts, that there’s an empty space where a soul should be. They roll their eyes. They scoff at anyone who seems to care.

The coolest thing you can do in this world is care.

I remember a few girls getting tattoos at my favorite spot in Los Angeles. They were nervous and animated, talking quickly with their hands and joking with the tattoo artist. They wanted to get map coordinates of an area I’m assuming was somehow significant to them. Everyone could hear them. They were shriekers, like me.

My friend and I watched, felt a little superior because our tattoos were obviously MUCH cooler than coordinates (I mean, BASIC, right?). We had a few tattoos. Our seasoned status somehow convincing us that we could judge them. We could pass judgement on their adolescent like behavior.

And then, I felt shitty.

I felt shitty that I spend so much time being excited about ridiculous things and proudly announcing, “THIS IS ME, WORLD! TAKE IT!” and I was giving these girls a side-eye. I felt shitty that I sized them up as annoying for being exactly like me. You know what I was getting tattooed that day? The Buffy The Vampire Slayer logo. Yeah, what a cool kid I am. Must have been Homecoming Queen, right?

We’re becoming conditioned to frown upon pure enthusiasm. For some reason, nothing should affect us. Just a bunch of Ice People with cinder blocks instead of bleeding, beating hearts.

I’m not for it. I’m not okay with trying to minimize my excitement for something others perceive as dumb. I’m not okay with us looking at two girls being so wonderfully human and stoked as annoying.

You know what’s annoying?

Not giving a shit about anything.

That’s annoying.

Caring? Caring about your life, new experiences, and yes, even the silliest things we do with our friends? That’s cool. That’s the coolest.

I’m never going to be a Daria, as much as the internet tries to convince me I should be. I’ll always be a Kimmy Schmidt. Loud, passionate, and maybe a bit much. But I’d rather be too much than nothing at all. I’d rather be me. TC mark

Mind Of An Addict

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 04:00 PM PST

Thomas Picauly
Thomas Picauly

You cannot find the answer to your life at the bottom of a bottle
Believe me I’ve been there and it's a hard pill to swallow
But two becomes four and four becomes more and soon you’re drowning in your own self-loathing
Wanna make excuses for the nights you don’t remember
Wanna apologize for the words you never meant to say
For the actions that you took but won’t remember the next day
I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of being sorry
I’m so tired of feeling sorry
I’m so tired of drinking down your memory
I’m so tired of remembering how you forgot about me
At the end of the day you may never forgive me
But I’m only human and we all make mistakes
Alcohol is a disease with so many souls take
I just want mine back,
I have to find an escape one drink two drink but there’s so much more
Should have went to class but I guess I didn’t
Shouldn’t have cheated on you but I guess I did it
Tried to apologize but I never meant it
Tried to stay sober but it's hard to forget it
Tried to stay drunk but it's hard to remember it
Just wanna go back to who I use to be
Back in high school when I swore I’d never drink
Somewhere along the way I lost myself
Deep depression was the curse where I found myself
Now six months later and I’m still blaming myself
For the actions that I took and the words that I said induced by a drug that I never meant to start
Just wanna go back before I lost it all…
Just wanna go back before I took that first sip
Just wanna say no thank you and I might not have ever became an addict TC mark

I Am But A Dainty Introvert (And That’s Why I Haven’t Texted You Back)

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 03:00 PM PST

Clem Onojeghuo
Clem Onojeghuo

Oh, the word "introvert" is so misunderstood these days. There are just so many false stereotypes and mistyped people out in the world that give introverts a bad name.

For you see, I am one. And that's why I haven't texted you back.

Ignoring you and all other responsibilities is how I recharge. So you have to let me do it. And you can’t get mad at me.

Because it’s my personality. I literally cannot change it.

It’s hard for us introverts to keep up with such correspondence (such as basic social interaction). And, no, it’s not me being an asshole again—I just told you I’m an introvert.

It’s just what we do.

As an introvert, I should be able to do whatever I want without having to bend my personality type to the expectations of other people. I took a test online that said that (kind of).

So, yeah, I can do things like eat your food without asking—because I’m shy, I can’t ask you for permission first.

And I can flake on that thing I promised I’d go to, because I’m probably really into a book I’m reading right now.

Introverts love reading. We’re the only type that does.

And I've told you not to call me on the phone! Even for emergencies! I am only comfortable receiving correspondence if it is delivered to me at the stroke of midnight by a dove. Doves don't make small talk. (Remember—I am an introvert.)

So I can’t apologize for not texting you back. I literally get my energy from ignoring you. TC mark

How Getting Abs Changed My Life

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 02:00 PM PST

Photo by Michael Malice
Photo by Michael Malice

I never had abs, even when I was so disgustingly skinny in college that my grandmother would almost cry at the sight of me. I decided that this was simply something my body was incapable of and thought nothing of it. The problem was, every Men's Health and Men's Fitness cover—literally, every single one—screams in capital letters about getting a six-pack. It's apparently the only muscle group that matters (or at least the most important one).

After a lifetime of being the skinniest kid, I was also convinced that my body in general was not open to change. Then one of my editors sat me down and knocked some sense into me. "It doesn't matter how insane your metabolism is," he insisted. "If you eat more, you will gain weight. You have to gain weight. The calories have nowhere else to go."

Sure enough, I did start to eat more—a lot more—and I did gain weight. Well, this changed everything. I hadn't considered this to be possible, and now it was happening. So despite being a writer from Brooklyn, I joined the gym. It was weird going there, since it was most certainly not my natural environment. But the very first day, a big dude asked me if I was done with the machine I was on. "Yep," I told him. "That was my last set."

"Thanks, brother!" he said unironically.

That was that. He called me "brother"! I belonged. Rather than being intimidated, I quickly saw that everyone in the place was extremely polite and no one ever stared at the not-as-skinny guy trying to figure his way around. They were there to exercise, not gawk. I went online and found a pretty straightforward routine and started going regularly. It did wonders for my mental health. If there was a day where I had nothing to do (say, waiting to hear back from an agent), I wouldn't be antsy. I had still done something, some work for the day. It wasn't wasted.

I never got into great shape, but that wasn't really the point. I managed to have a normal, healthy build, something I never had in my life, and that was plenty. But after a certain point, gaining any more weight would do me more harm than good. My dad was the fat kid in school, while my mom still clocks in under 120 pounds. As I gained weight, my face turned into Dad's big pumpkin head. It was not a look I was interested in achieving, let alone sustaining.

I had thought gaining weight was impossible and proved that false. Maybe I could get abs? So I went on a strict regimen (women have diets; men have regimens, I told myself) of very low-carb food every day. My natural metabolism did the rest. The weight kept coming off. Quickly I reached the point where more than one friend pulled me aside. "You look sick," one told me.

"I'm trying to get abs," I said.

"You can't lose any more weight. I'm telling you."

So I gave up. I didn't really care, as I hadn't thought it possible anyway. A while later I became friends with a fitness coach, and I asked him to write me up a program to follow. An author is every coach's dream client, since we're used to keeping a schedule and being extremely disciplined. He put me on what they call a bulk and I got heavier than at any point in my life.

"All right," he said. "Let's get you on a cut. I can get anyone to have abs. Anyone."

He gave me a list of macros to meet, a certain amount of protein, fat, and carbs to consume on a given day. It didn't matter where they came from, so I picked a regimen (not a diet) that I knew I could eat every day and not get sick of. I wasn't interested in being healthy; I was interested in getting a six-pack. My intake was beef jerky, gummy candy, beef (not whey) protein, protein chips, grilled chicken, and potato. The weight started imploding, and my face started morphing back into my mom's. Eventually I had a waist under 25 inches and a 38 or so inch chest. I was now one measurement away from having perfect proportions…for a woman.

Still no abs. I wore the smallest belt I found at the store, tightened to the furthest hole, and still I didn't have definition in my stomach. I was losing body fat everywhere else (and visible abs is simply a function of low body fat) and didn't know how much more weight I had to lose. Then one day, as I was changing, I caught sight of myself in the mirror with a six-pack.

I had such severe body dysmorphia that when I looked at my reflection I thought, "Wow, he's [sic] got a decent build." I quickly took a picture, certain this would vanish overnight. But no, the abs were still there in the morning, and the day after that. OK, so now I had abs. According to all the magazines, I should be getting laid every three seconds and people should be handing me big checks for no reason. I did it! Hurray!

So how did getting abs change my life? It didn't. It was great to be able to say that I accomplished it, but I have never worked harder for as long for so little benefit. I tried putting up just an abs photo on Tinder as an experiment and got zero matches. Literally none. I understood why women wouldn't read Men's Fitness, but I'd assumed they'd be subliminally brainwashed as they saw the headlines on the newsstand or something. Nope.

Now, I am still sticking to my regimen in order to maintain my waistline. Why? I have no clue. Maybe because it represents getting something unattainable. Having abs (for me at least) is like having gone to Harvard: It's the sort of thing you have to mention within minutes of meeting anyone, and it's the sort of thing they genuinely find very impressive…for ninety seconds. TC mark

8 Subconscious Behaviors That Are Keeping You From Having The Life You Want

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 10:00 AM PST


Every generation has a "monoculture" of sorts, a governing pattern or system of beliefs that people unconsciously accept as "truth."

It's easy to identify the monoculture of Germany in the 1930s, or America in 1776. It's clear what people at those times, in those places, accepted to be "good" and "true" even when in reality, that was certainly not always the case.

The objectivity required to see the effects of present monoculture is very difficult to maintain (once you have so deeply accepted an idea as 'truth' it doesn't register as 'cultural' or 'subjective' anymore) … but it's crucial.

So much of our inner turmoil is simply the result of conducting a life we don't inherently agree with, because we have accepted an inner narrative of "normal" and "ideal" without ever realizing.

The fundamentals of any given monoculture tend to surround how to live your best life, how to live a better life, and what's most worth living for (nation, religion, self, etc.) and there are a number of ways in which our current system has us shooting ourselves in the feet as we try to step forward. Simply, there are a few fundamentals on happiness, decision making, instinct following and peace finding that we don't seem to understand.

So here, eight of the daily behaviors and unconscious habits that are keeping you from the life you really want.

1. You believe that creating your best possible life is a matter of deciding what you want and then going after it, but in reality, you are psychologicallyincapable of being able to predict what will make you happy.

Your brain can only perceive what it's known, so when you choose what you want for the future, you're actually just re-creating a solution or an ideal of the past. Ironically, when said ideas don't come to fruition (things never look the way we think they will) you suffer, because you think you've failed, when really, you're most likely experiencing something better than you could have chosen for yourself at the time. (Moral of the story: Living in the moment isn't a lofty ideal reserved for the zen and enlightened, it's the only way to live a life that isn't infiltrated with illusions… it's the only thing your brain can actually comprehend.)

2. You extrapolate the present moment because you believe that success is somewhere you "arrive," so you are constantly trying to take a snapshot of your life and see if you can be happy yet. 

You accidentally convince yourself that any given moment is your life, when in reality, it is a moment in your life. Because we're wired to believe that success is somewhere we get to – when goals are accomplished and things are completed – we're constantly measuring our present moments by how "finished" they are, how good the story sounds, how someone else would judge the summary. (If at any point you find yourself thinking: "is this all there is?" you're forgetting that everything is transitory. There is nowhere to "arrive" at. The only thing you're rushing toward is death. Accomplishing goals is not success. How much you learn and enjoy and expand in the process of doing them is.)

3. You assume that when it comes to following your "gut instincts," happiness is "good," and fear and pain is "bad."

When you consider doing something that you truly love and are invested in, you are going to feel an influx of fear and pain, mostly because it will involve being vulnerable. When it comes to making decisions, you have to know that bad feelings are not deterrents. They are indicators that you want to do something, but it scares you (which are the things most worth doing, if you ask me). Not wanting to do something would make you feel indifferent about it. Fear = interest

4. You needlessly create problems and crises in your life because you're afraid of actually living it.

The pattern of unnecessarily creating crisis in your life is actually an avoidance technique. It distracts you from actually having to be vulnerable or held accountable or whatever it is you're afraid of. You're never upset for the reason you think you are: at the core of your desire to create a problem is simply the fear of being who you are, and living the life you want.

5. You think that to change your beliefs, you have to adopt a new line of thinking, rather than seek experiences that make that thinking self-evident.

A belief is what you know to be true because experience has made it evident to you. If you want to change your life, change your beliefs. If you want to change your beliefs, go out and have experiences that make them real to you. Not the opposite way around.

6. You think "problems" are road blocks to achieving what you want, when in reality, they are pathways.

If you haven't heard it before, Marcus Aurelius sums this up well: "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." Ryan Holiday explains it with even greater grace and economy: "The obstacle is the way." Simply, running into a "problem" forces you to take action to resolve it. That action leads you down the path you had ultimately intended to go anyway, as the only "problems" in your life ultimately come down to how you resist who you are and how your life naturally unfolds.

7. You think your past defines you, and worse, you think that it is an unchangeable reality, when really, your perception of it changes as you do. 

Because experience is always multi-dimensional, there are a variety of memories, experiences, feelings, "gists" you can choose to recall… and what you choose is indicative of your present state of mind. So many people get caught up in allowing the past to define them, or haunt them, simply because they have not evolved to the place of seeing how the past did not prevent them from achieving the life they want… it facilitated it (see: the obstacle is the way). This doesn't mean to disregard or gloss over painful or traumatic events, but simply to be able to recall them with acceptance and to be able to place them in the storyline of your personal evolution.

8. You try to change other people, situations and things (or you just complain/get upset about them) when anger = self-recognition. Most negative emotional reactions are you identifying a disassociated aspect of yourself.

Your "shadow selves" are the parts of you that, at some point, you were conditioned to believe were "not okay," so you suppressed them and have done everything in your power not to acknowledge them. You don't actually dislike these parts of yourself, though, you absolutely love them. So when you see somebody else displaying one of these traits, it absolutely infuriates you, not because you inherently dislike it, but because you have to fight your desire to fully integrate it into your whole consciousness. The things you love about others are the things you love about yourself. The things you hate about others are the things you cannot see in yourself. TC mark

This article originally appeared on Soul Anatomy.

How To Make Love To The Woman You Love Before Her Mastectomy

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 09:00 AM PST


It doesn't matter what age a woman is when she hears the words "You've got breast cancer."

It doesn't matter how she heard the news, or to some degree how "bad" her specific diagnosis is; the night before a woman's surgery will arrive. And before the surgical scrub that you do to clean yourself off with in preparation of the surgery, making love to your partner is on many couples minds. For the partners of these women, what's important to us?

Whether you have weeks or days prior to this event, many women believe that, on some level, this time will be a last time in their minds. The last time when everything was "normal." Even if she didn't think that she had curvy, sensuous, perky, perfect breasts, in some ways they were always the most obvious part of her body's femininity. What other sexual "organs" did you dress up? This part of your body was as visible as you wanted it to be, or "the girls" could be cozily hidden under a flannel nightie if it was the middle of winter and everyone just wanted to be comfy. Her sexy bra was purchased and selected to be worn to hold little pieces of lace together to show rather than tell what she hoped your admirer was fantasizing about. It usually could be unhooked and taken off with incredible speed if needed. Many women also have “get lucky” underclothing. The perfect bra and panties stories that gets happily nested in the super pleasurable centers of our brains (where I think old ladies go to when you see them and they have an especially happy look on their faces). Or our breasts can be covered up with an equally sexy sports bra that communicates I'm healthy, active and ready for adventure.

Making love for most couples has always involved our breasts. Didn't foreplay come from making it to "second base" when we were teenagers? Didn't undressing, often from the top down, signal that the best was about to come? Didn't having our blouses opened, our jeans or PJ's shimmied off, get both of us more and more in the mood?

As a love partner, you must be thinking, do I touch them now…the same…more…or act like they are no big deal? Does she want to hear how you have always loved her breasts? Does she want to hear how you remember a specific time in the past that it was all about her boobs? Should this time be about ignoring that tomorrow is coming and not acting differently from whatever "pattern" of love making that makes both of you smile and feel loved? Or should it be as intense and sexy as you can make it? Or should it be tender, as in a planned goodbye?

If there was ever a time to hone in on both peoples unspoken cues—what you both have learned to treasure more intimately over the time you have been together—this would be the time to be extra sensitive and open to what feels right to the other person. This event will be traversed more from a feelings perspective than from over thinking. Both people have angst, both people have the desire to make this time uniquely perfect. Maybe not perfect as in "this night was the best sex ever" but perfect so that this transition time in your relationship, has the potential to be like the first time you made love. Poignant, filled with the paradox of the unknown and yet the very familiar, resides in some eventual forever place in our brains.

No advice on how to make it perfect. The only advice is to not ignore that this is a last of something in her life and in yours. But from lasts, come new firsts. Just don't ignore that this is a big day and the easiest way to make it not painfully unforgettable, is to acknowledge that in some verbal…or non verbal way, this time is different.

What it's like after, I'll let you know. TC mark

Here’s What Kind Of Girlfriend You Are, Based On Your Hogwarts House

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 08:00 AM PST


Bold, adventurous, playful, and ambitious, a Gryffindor girl is a girlfriend who’s a true ride or die, partner in crime kind of girl. She’s not afraid to challenge you or put you in your place, but more than anything she’s ready to be right there by your side fighting with you. A Gryffindor might KNOW when you’re wrong, and it will definitely make her blood boil until she’s able to point it out, but she’s not going to just drop you because of your differences.

The Gryffindor girl is the kind of girlfriend who pushes you. She’s always there with the next exciting idea or the next adventure with her hand extended, enticing you to come along and just jump with her. She’s the kind of girl that a lot of people call crazy or maybe a wild child, because she’s very much the “leap before she looks” kind of personality. But, that natural impulsivity and no fear persona means she’s unshakeable. She’s unafraid. She’s impenetrable. When she gets knocked down, she bounces right back up. And if you happen to get knocked down, she’ll get you back up too.

She’s going to drive you up the wall sometimes with her need for attention and tendency towards being a little ADD, but eventually, you figure out how to balance her. You’ll keep her closer to the ground and less flighty and more realistic, she’ll keep you guessing and chasing your goals. You’ll never be bored with a Gryffindor.


Hufflepuffs have an unnecessary and unfounded reputation for being bland, passive, and boring. But none of this is true. You’ll never find a more patient, kind, and loyal partner than when you’re with a girl who is a Hufflepuff. A girl who’s a Hufflepuff knows exactly who she is, and isn’t worried about what anyone else says. She doesn’t change who she is just to make herself seem more interesting or more spicy because she’s happy just the way she is. She’s more interested in her books, in her hobbies, in her close circle of friend, and in being a person who she’s proud of than worrying about what someone’s random opinion has to say about her.

A Hufflepuff is the practical, level-headed partner that everyone (whether they admit it or not) needs in their life. She cares deeply for the people who she surrounds herself with and just wants everyone to be happy and content. Natural peacekeepers, natural caretakers, and someone who is so happy seeing OTHER’S happiness — you’ll never feel more at home than when you’re with your Hufflepuff gal.

Hufflepuff girlfriends are warm, kind, and have no problem putting other people ahead of herself. She’s the girlfriend who texts you good morning to make you smile, and watches sports with you even though she doesn’t even know who’s playing. She might be a bit passive, and need a reminder that it’s okay to stick up for herself or speak up every now and again. But she’s a forever kind of girl, a true partner. And you’re lucky to have her.


Ravenclaws are curious, tenacious, and driven, making them the quintessential intellectual girlfriend. She’s never going to worry about being sexy, trendy, or about frivolity — she’s much, much deeper than that. Purposeful, introspective, and wise beyond her years, dating a Ravenclaw is definitely going to be…a challenge.

A Ravenclaw isn’t the type of girl who is “go with the flow” or “devil may care.” She’s big picture, methodical, and knows exactly what she wants out of life. The fact of the matter is, a Ravenclaw knows she doesn’t need you. She’s happy on her own and wildly (albeit quietly) independent. She’s the kind of girl who you have to chase, have to pursue, and most importantly, have to be ready to listen to in order to figure out how to be with her.

Ravenclaws don’t settle. In her own life, with herself, with her career, frankly with anything. She wants the best, and won’t accept anything less than. She constantly going to be pushing herself, and you, to be better than before. Sometimes that pushing is going to be overwhelming and stressful and intimidating, but it’s not coming from a place of discontent or malice. She just has this innate ability to see the big picture, and she wants it to be as perfect as possible for you both.


Slytherin women are whip-smart, often misunderstood, stubborn, and instinctive leaders. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. She has her shit together and knows for a fact that she knows what’s best, so when she sees something she wants she’s going to pursue it until she gets it. Chasing a Slytherin isn’t for the faint at heart, because it’ll be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever attempt. She’s a force to be reckoned with and because of such, people are drawn to her like a magnet. But, she’s selective. So she’s choosy about who she lets into her weird little world.

Dating a Slytherin is going to have a certain amount of push and pull involved. Because she’s a natural leader (headstrong, boisterous, and incredibly sharp) she has trouble relinquishing control. She leans towards secrecy and self-sufficency because she’s likely incredibly used to being on her own, which isn’t a bad thing when you’re single, but is something she’ll have to figure out in order to be an effectively communicative and open partner to someone else.

Slytherins get a bad rap for being deceitful and in your face; but some of these traits will play to your advantage in a relationship. She’s unafraid of confrontation so you’ll never have moments of wondering why she’s pissed off, she’s always going to be on your side and you’ll know you can trust her to have your back, and let’s face it: it’s fun being in on someone’s little secrets. Even when it’s just playing games with people. (Especially Gryffindors.) TC mark

23 Things I Learned About Writing, Strategy And Life From Tim Ferriss

Posted: 11 Dec 2016 07:00 AM PST


I first met Tim Ferriss in 2007. I hesitate to say he was "just a guy then," but he was and I was even less of a guy (I was another guy's assistant and couldn't legally buy a drink). Within a few months, Tim would go on to publish one of the biggest business books of the last decade and segue it into investments in Uber, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. Whether you're a fan of his writing or not, that's an objectively impressive accomplishment.

In the ten years we've known each other, I've watched Tim sell several million copies of his books, listened to hours of his podcast (so have 100M other people), and been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him. Needless to say, I've learned an incredible amount. This week he's publishing Tools of Titans which looks at all the things he's learned from billionaires, athletes, filmmakers and creators he's interviewed over the years. There's some good stuff in there, but I thought I would take the time to articulate the lessons I learned from watching and working with Tim—because they could fill their own book.

What Do You Do With Your Money?

Around the time I was starting my marketing company, I had a conversation with Tim. He asked me what I was working on and what I was trying to accomplish, and I gave your typical answer: I wanted to be financially successful. Then he asked me something I've never been asked. "Ryan," he said, "What do you do with your money?" Basically I just put it in the bank, I told him. "Then why are you doing so many things you dislike to earn more of it?" he replied. This insight changed the course of my business as well as my life. Making money is easier than most people think—knowing why and what for, and not being driven in the wrong direction to get it? Much harder.

Don't Quit

They just announced the development of what will be Tim's third crack at a television series. I probably would have walked away in frustration after the first negative experience. But he's at it again. Because it's something he wants.

Overdeliver. Overdeliver. Overdeliver.

His books are long for a reason. His blog posts are long for a reason. He over-delivers. Probably an unhealthy amount.

Quid Pro Quo Should Never Be Explicit

When Tim's blog was just starting to take off, I emailed him and asked him if he might include a link back to mine. I laid out this clear case as to why—the things I'd done for him in helping launch his book, how many copies it had sold, places I'd secured links for him. He replied really quickly, "Ryan," he said, "I'll link to you because you asked—not because of these reasons. In fact, in the future, you'll have better luck when you ask for things if you don't try to make it seem like the person owes you. No one likes that." It was a technique I've used many times since. There is an art to asking for and trading favors—the most essential part is the social decorum around obscuring the very thing you are doing.

Sleep Is Important

Tim routinely gets 8-10 hours of sleep—something I'm happy to have copied early on and have not fallen into the 'lack of sleep as a badge of honor' trap.

Treat Everyone Like They Can Put You On The Front Page Of The New York Times

Tim's network is pretty astounding. His media opportunities are the secret envy of almost every entrepreneur or author. How does he do it? Tim's strategy is simple: He treats people well. Especially the people that other people ignore. I remember watching Tim going around SXSW and getting to know people who would go on to become some of the most influential investors and founders in the world. You never know who might help you one day with your work. His rule was to treat everyone like they could put you on the front page of the New York Times…because someday, you might meet that person. Networking is not about finding someone who can help you right this second. It's about establishing a relationship that can one day benefit both of you. And often the best people to do that with aren't the busy, important people. You want to meet the people who aren't well known but should be and will be. It's not about who has the biggest megaphone. A great example for me was meeting Tim. He hadn't sold millions of books then and didn't have a huge platform. Now he does.

Batch Activities Together

I first learned about 'batching' from Tim (he recommended it for email) and I now group all my phone calls together in large blocks of time and go for long walks.

You Don't Have To Be First, You Just Have To Do It Well

Tim wasn't early on Twitter. He wasn't early on podcasting. He didn't have an email list until about two years ago. Yet he has 1.37M followers, has one of the biggest shows in podcasting and his email list is close to a million people (and I now get a bunch of 5 Bullet Friday ripoffs). The lesson to me is that being early is much less important than being right and being great.

Unreasonable Goals Drive Accomplishment

Anyone who has worked with Tim knows that almost every project starts with a goal that seems completely impossible. On the digital launch of his TV show, he wanted to be #1 on all of iTunes. In 2007, I remember him talking about building a huge blog that would publish people other than him—a la the Freakonomics blog. I'm sure with this new book he has an enormous sales goal. Whether or not these goals are 'reasonable' or not, there is no question that they drive him to accomplish incredible things. Sometimes he hits them, sometimes he doesn't. But he almost always ends up further than most people would have if they'd started in the same position.

Get a Win Every Day

I've always loved exercising, but Tim has pointed out that exercise is a great way to get a guaranteed win every day. Now I consider it part of my job.

Champion Other People's Work

In the creative professions, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that someone else's success threatens your own. Artists can be petty, jealous and small-minded. Tim is a great example for shattering this viewpoint. As I said, his early goal for his blog was to publish other people. Not many sites do that. As his platform grew, he used it to buy the audiobook rights to some of his favorite books and market them to his fans (I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of this). His podcast is Tim interviewing and showcasing other people instead of him himself. In publishing, there's even something called the Tim Ferriss Effect—the way he can move the needle for other people. You'd think this would have the effect of benefiting others more than Tim. On the contrary, it's made him an indispensable resource for his fans. Sharing and championing other people's work not only creates allies and makes you an important gatekeeper, but it builds your own fan base. You might hate Tim's books but you can still get good recommendations for other titles from him.

Quit While You're Ahead

In 2015, Tim told me he was quitting angel investing. I was surprised. Aren't you doing really well? I asked. He was—but it was taking too much of his time. It was distracting him from what he really liked doing. So he walked away. While he was ahead.

Try New Things

Of all the clients I've ever worked with, Tim is the most open to experimenting. Sure, we can pirate my book on Bittorrent and see what happens. Why not try to give my audiobook away for free too? Who needs a traditional and established publisher anyway? There are of course also the infamous videos of him on YouTube swallowing 25 pills at once, getting a biopsy tube into his thigh and implanting sensors in his body. It's no surprise to learn that Tim even has unique spices created just for him.

Seek Out Negative Feedback

Anyone who has ever been asked to edit something in Tim's writing gets this question first: "What should I cut?" He wants to know what people didn't like—so he can improve or get rid of it.

Cut. Cut. Cut.

Speaking of editing, if Tim ever edits your work it will come back covered in redlines. He doesn't make a lot of edits, he just tells you what's unnecessary (and there is always unnecessary stuff to cut). I think he cut close to 10% of Ego is the Enemyand I'm grateful.

Most Important Things First

I start my mornings writing—whether a chapter from a book or an article. It's the most important (and uncomfortable) task of the day but once that's accomplished everything else that day is gravy. As Tim asks in his popular post on productivity, "If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?"

Get a Dog

After 10 years, what's the one thing that I've seen have the biggest positive impact on Tim's life? He got a dog. It was something I talked to him about a lot—and I knew he'd love having one—but I had no idea how much it would change his life for the better. He's happier, kinder, more relaxed, more connected and Molly, his mutt, is a big part of the reason why. If you're thinking about getting a dog, get one. Or a goat. Or a donkey.

Eat Right To Feel Right

I don't need to sell you on his dieting advice, but it has worked for me. I've eaten some version of the Slow Carb Diet for going on 7 years and it's great. I used to eat terribly and felt terribly as a result. Now I don't.

Some Stuff Is Just For You

Tim's writing is full of inside jokes. 99% of readers miss them. But he loves it. He told me that it's what keeps him going through the dark days of a manuscript. He's right. You have to have some stuff in your work just for you. Who cares what other people think. It's just for you.

Who Do You Want To Be Famous To?

Tim once asked me: "Would you rather have 100,000 people in the US, selected at random, consume your content once and know your name, or the entire audience at TED and Davos listen to your podcast at least once a month?" To me, the answer is the latter. His question gives me really valuable clarity as a writer.

Take Vacations from Stuff

If you email Tim, you might get an auto-response saying "He's taking a vacation from email." If you ask him for a blurb for your book, he might tell you he's taking a 'blurb vacation.' If you asked him to loan you some money, he'd probably tell you he's taking a vacation from giving random people money. It's a great line and an easy way to say no without feeling like you're being a jerk (which is always hard to do). I cannot count how many times I have borrowed this strategy from him, but it's massively improved my life.

Evergreen, High Quality Content

Tim has always stressed the value of evergreen long-form content. As he told me in my interview with him, "Long-form content isn't dead; it's simply uncrowded and neglected. I double down when formats are out of favor." He sees thousands of readers discover him through his enormous backlist of posts and it's a strategy I've adopted early on as well.

Don't Let It Change You

My last point is simple: After all the success I've seen Tim have in the last ten years—selling millions of books, becoming a celebrity, getting in on the ground floor of one of the most valuable private companies in the world—he's essentially the same person (except better in a lot of ways mentioned above). He does what he does because he enjoys it, and he's compelled to create, experiment and improve because that's who he is. Tim is still Tim. Most people are made worse by success, and that's a shame. It has suited Tim well and that's a model I aspire to. TC mark