Why They Don’t “Just Say What They Want”

It goes much deeper than “playing coy”

I recently found a post that asked,

“What’s the most annoying thing your partner does?”

One of the top comments was:

“When they don’t tell me what they want! I have to all but sit them down and force them!”

I get it. It’s annoying.

My partner and I are both the “I don’t care where we eat” sort — and to make matters worse, we’re both the type to sort of neglect to eat altogether, especially if nothing is jumping out at us (it just kinda isn’t worth the hassle sometimes.) So I hear you.

Not everyone struggles with what they want, but those who do do it across their lives

They don’t know where they want to eat. They don’t know what they want to drink. They don’t know what they want in a relationship. They don’t know what they want regarding a lot of shit.

I see this as a bartender all the time — people come in, sit down, and then look around dumbfounded like they’ve never seen a bar before. Maybe they’ll reach for a cocktail list only to flip it over a few times like they can’t read. They’ll look at the draft list like it’s a work of abstract art. They’ll scan the bottles too fast to actually be registering what’s there.

“What can I get for you?” I’ll ask, already dreading the answer that comes with this stupefied thing they’re doing.

“I don’t know,” they’ll say, then ask: “What do you recommend?” Or: “what’s good?” Or, simply: “surprise me!”

And I think to myself, “I recommend that you make your own decisions. That’s ‘what’s good.’ How’s that for a surprise?”

People who do this aren’t doing it to be coy. And they’re not doing it because they’re afraid of being seen as “wanting a drink.” Like, I know you want a drink — you’re in a bar. It’s a deeper problem, of:

  • Literally not knowing what we want, and
  • Not wanting to figure it out and choose

WHY people “can’t decide”

Sometimes people don’t seem to understand: we are not machines with missing instructions. Things aren’t always black and white.

Maybe they’re out of touch with options

Maybe they don’t categorize experiences as a series of fool-proof “if, then’s.

Or maybe they’re out of touch with themselves.

Highly likely; almost always part of the problem. But this isn’t something that’s settled by shouting or demanding an answer (of ourselves or others.)

“Want” is a complicated thing, because many decisions have at least two variables — short vs. long term satisfaction.

Here’s everything that goes through my head when I’m deciding on what to eat: I like salads — good salads. I’m craving something cheesy, but “tomorrow me” doesn’t want something cheesy. “Want” isn’t black and white.

To the loved ones of “people who can’t decide:”

You have a few options:

  • Mill about trying to “force” them to choose
  • Choose for or without them
  • Reframe the decision to help them to choose

If it doesn’t matter that much, just decide. If you’re getting hangry, just decide. If you’re short on time, just decide. If it’s what color to paint the guest bedroom walls, just decide.

My mother’s idea of a “perfect vacation” is one where she plans and decides absolutely nothing, and gets to enjoy it passively like a child in a little red wagon, tugged along and fed snack packs at regular intervals. I know this, so I just decide. If I didn’t, she’d just go ask Rick Steves what she should want to do. So I save us both time by just deciding.

When it comes to something that only involves them, however, I will often force them to choose. At the bar, I will very rarely pick for someone, unless they’re “playing the game” (i.e., “I’m curious to see what you recommend, as a fellow whiskey drinker” rather than “I’m too overwhelmed.”) But other than that, if someone isn’t picking, I’ll leave and come back as many times as it takes for them to get their shit together and live their own lives. (And buddy, I’ve got all night.)

And sometimes, I just move on. I have one friend in particular who is notorious for being unable to decide what she wants to eat. When we go out and I get hungry, I just get food — something quick. I don’t pussyfoot or get hangry waiting for her to decide, like it’s The Last Meal She’ll Ever Have. I feed myself, and she doesn’t get offended. And when she’s finally ready to decide, we simply stop again.

With my partner, we have two tools that work 99% of the time for us:

  • Rank options -5 to 5, -5 being “I will die if I have to do this,” 0 being “I literally do not care,” and 5 being “I will die if I don’t.” If we’re sort of wishy washy on something but both our scores together are positive, and lower than other immediate options, that’s the winner.
  • Take turns picking. You know that old parenting trick to keep kids from fighting over “what’s fair” — one kid divides something (a sandwich, whatever) into half, and the other kid gets to choose which “half” he or she wants. Done. Here’s how it works for deciding: one person throws out 3 options. Usually as they’re saying them, they’ve already eliminated one, or picked a favorite. Great. But say 3.) Make the other person either eliminate one, or rank them (see above — does this sound convoluted? It probably does. BUT IT GOES MUCH FASTER THAN THE “I DON’T KNOW” GAME IRL.) Once they’ve eliminated one and/or ranked them, the other person picks from those two, or ranks in response. So easy. So fast.

To “people who can’t decide:”

Start living your life, babe.

We spend all this time pinning inspirational and aspirational shit, but then we can’t even commit to where to eat or what to drink. I know it’s nice to dream of a world where everything’s handled and Prince Charming or some other hero makes all of our decisions in exactly the way we want them made, but the reality is that we are responsible for our own emotional wellbeing, and our own everyday lives.

Pick a drink. Pick a meal. Pick a partner. Pick a vocation.

Take some level of accountability. And start living your own life.

Fuck “Finding Your Passion”

It’s not the thing we think

“I Was A Botox Junkie,” LA Arts District, artist Tristan Eato

Note: this was originally part of “The 1 Most Important Thing To Be Successful.” I broke it out, as it seemed to warrant a stand-alone post, but if you already read it there, you may not need/want to read it again here.

Too many people don’t pursue anything because they’re “finding their passion.”

And to these people I just want to say:

You don’t need passion.

At least not in the grossly oversimplified way we define it — as “interests” — and definitely not as a standalone thing.

If you’re already passionate…

Great — keep on keeping on. This message isn’t for you. Skip ahead.

This message is for everyone “trying to find their passion,” i.e., expecting the universe to hand it to them. It’s for those sitting around waiting for “inspiration” and using a lack of it as an excuse to do nothing. It’s even for people who consider themselves “passionate” but allow it to dictate their effort levels, which ebbs and flows day to day. (And many of us are guilty of this.)

If you’re “looking for your passion”

Get over yourself — you’re overcomplicating.

As Tim Grover, personal trainer to a number of top professional basketball players, including fifteen years with Michael Jordan, says,

“You know what passion is? Passion is an emotion. It’s an emotion without an action. Passion will get you nowhere. Inner drive will get you nowhere unless you act on it. You have to act on your passion. You have to act on your inner drive. Don’t let those feelings stay inside you. You gotta know what to do with them. You gotta know how to make them work to get what you want.”

You already have everything you need

Because “passion” is not what we think it is.

I read a shit-ton of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, and here’s something a remarkable number of people have in common:

Many successful people didn’t choose their “thing.”

Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin of Veuve Clicquot only came into the champagne business through her husband, who inherited it from his father and then died early on in the marriage. It was a just a few struggling vineyards when Barbe-Nicole took it on, but over her life she not only built what is still today one of the leading champagne empires, but she completely re-engineered the way champagne was produced, shipped and marketed, revolutionizing the industry forever. All of this from someone who, before her husband’s death, had probably never even considered getting into champagne.

Howard Schultz and Ray Kroc (the recognized founders of Starbucks and McDonalds, respectively) were restaurant supply salesmen who bumped into single-location shops (coffee and burgers), saw how good the products were, and blew them out. Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran was introduced to the commercial real estate business where she made her millions through her boyfriend at the time.

Andre Agassi, widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, admitted in his autobiography that he hates tennis “with a dark and secret passion.”

Plenty of people succeed having spent exactly zero time pondering what interests me? Not because they were “accidental entrepreneurs,” or “just got lucky,” because they sure as hell still worked — hard. They just didn’t sit around waiting for the perfect opportunity or “interest” to fall into their lap.

They directed their energy at what was in front of them.

It kinda reminds of the scene between Buddy and the store manager in the 2003 film Elf,

Buddy: “I just like to smile — smiling’s my favorite!”

Store Manager: “Make work your favorite — that’s your favorite, okay? Work is your new favorite.”

Now, obviously there are of course plenty of founders who chase intrinsic, tangible interests — Elon Musk, Coco Chanel, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Chouinard (Patagonia) and Ford — but if you do not already have a natural inclination toward a specific system (and you would know by now — we’re grown-ass adults), it’s because your passion is actually aligned elsewhere.

Because: you can be passionate about things, sure. But you can also be passionate about other areas: people, ideas, experimentation, insight, structure, etc. And you already have these.

Create Energy

How do you want to feel? Recall times you felt the closest to it.

What raised your body temperature? What made you feel alert and alive? It might not have been something as literal as “playing basketball” or “learning Latin.” It might have been something less discrete, like “helping people” or “high energy environments,” or, simply: “winning.”

You already have something, somewhere — you just undervalue it.

A lot of people are going to read this section and come away thinking: “yeah, see?! So I still need to ‘find my passion.’” No. It takes 5 seconds to answer the question: when in your life have you felt most alive, most fired up, most powerful? Name 2 or 3, then say why. That’s all you need to chase.

My passion is people.

My happiest and most energizing roles are simply those where I am:

  • Working very closely with others. That bartender life, just for example, does right by me — there’s nothing quite like the sexy-ass zen feeling of being totally aware and in sync with the other bartender(s) movements behind the bar on a slammed Saturday night. You’d maybe think this would be lower, being an introvert (and a writer) and all. And it’s true that I hate stupid shit like “group projects” and “brainstorming sessions,” but I do love me a good group-tackle on a singular objective.
  • Solving others’ pain points —directly. Every job I’ve ever loved, from high school to today, was interfacing with the customers or clients. Every job I’ve hated were those I was abstracted from them.
  • In a high energy environment. (See: bar. Also: software.)

And the point here is: I don’t give a fuck about the product — as long as my customers care about the product. Some of my happiest roles were supporting products that I had never used, would never use, would never want to use, and in some cases could never use, but I didn’t care.

In fact, even when I had my own business, I wasn’t really “passionate” about that product in and of itself either. But it didn’t matter, because I was instead a.) passionate about the customer I was serving and b.) pissed about their pain point. I didn’t need to be passionate about what the solution looked like, just like I don’t need to personally like every drink I pour. Or every software solution I touch. I just need to care enough about people and what they want out of it.

It just needs to work.

You just need to find the one piece you need and once you find it, you just commit to and jump in on the rest.

Join my email list, champ!

(Pro tip: you can also reach me through that link.)

The Number 1 Reason Your Life Sucks

And the number 1 way to turn it around

If you think your life sucks, it probably does. But if you think it’s primarily due to any external factor, you’re wrong.

Across the board, there is one consistent, yawning, drowning reason that keeps us from achieving things, and it’s:

You Make Excuses

Instead of finding solutions.

In fact, many of you are making an excuse right NOW as you’re reading this!


  • or I don’t make excuses — I have ADHD!”
  • or “it’s not my fault — I have health issues!”
  • or “I was raised to believe — ”
  • or “I’m not as smart”
  • or “I didn’t have rich parents” (news flash: many successful people didn’t, either)

Or maybe they sound more like:

  • “I do work hard on my business — this is just the ‘research phase!’” (lol gtfo here with that and come back when you’re ready to join the real world)
  • or “I need to make a plan first
  • or “I need more information”
  • or “I don’t know what I want to do” (no shit — see below)
  • or “my market is hard”
  • or “nobody will help me”
  • or “I’m doing everything right!” (lol, clearly not.)

Or perhaps my (least) favorite,

  • “I know! I just need to get motivated!” (Look, bud. “Motivation” is bullshit. Successful people didn’t have more sparkle juice for breakfast — they just wanted it more than you do, and were willing to endure more setbacks to get it.)

We all have something we come back to. (My own favorite excuse that I use? Nothing is “quite right” enough — I’m critical, I hang back, I reject. And it’s probably interesting to note that the exception here is my relationship. The only reason I find “relationships” so easy is because I eliminate all of the judgment and “checklists” and only look for 3 things. And now that I’ve found them, all I worry about is committing each and every day.)

Anyway, to anyone thinking any of these or anything else — and we all have something we go back to — these are all examples of shit that the sort of people you admire overcame.

The one most important thing to be successful is: perseverance

Psychologist Angela Duckworth calls it “grit.”

Mega pro-basketball trainer Tim Grover calls it “relentlessness.”

Gary Vaynerchuk calls it “hustle,” sure — but he also calls it patience,” i.e., hustling over the long haul, not just sometimes.

Will Smith calls it “being willing to die on the treadmill.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, calls it “working like a mule.”

Some call it “creating possibilities” — “by looking beyond what you think is available, and… focusing on what you can offer.” i.e., finding workarounds.

One CEO (and founder!) of a billion-dollar publicly-traded company chalks his success to only two things: (1) never run out of money. And after that? (2) When it gets hard — “and it will get hard!” he emphasizes — don’t stop. (Just for context: his company was in the red for ten years before they saw a profit.)

I read a shit-ton of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs, and one of the biggest commonalities I’ve noticed across all of these amazing people? When they experienced remarkable setbacks — situations where most people would fold — they kept going.

Some of them lost their entire inventory. Or they got fucked over by a partner. Or a vendor. They lost their right-hand product person. They went bankrupt. They were revolutionizing the champagne industry in the 19th Century and struggled to figure out how to get bottles around Europe without them a.) going bad or b.) breaking. Whatever.

The difference with successful people isn’t that they never experienced setbacks — it’s that they didn’t stop.

And those who don’t see the success are all the ones who did.

Why Do We Make Excuses?

Any number of reasons… maybe it’s because “inertia” — a body at rest will stay at rest. Or because “self esteem.” Because it’s socially acceptable.

But at the end of the day, it’s really because:

  • You either don’t actually know what you want
  • Or you don’t want it badly enough

People who know exactly what they want — and want it with a blinding desire — don’t make excuses.

How To Stop Making Excuses

It’s simple:

1.) Take ownership of your own life

Nobody is here to rescue you, Charles. Nothing outside of you matters as much as your reaction to it, and countless people have achieved more with less. Use what you have — and know that your biggest asset is your mind.

2.) Decide — specifically — what you want

“Build a business” is not specific. Fuck off with that shit. Be specific. And it’s not about “having a plan,” but it is understanding the difference between “get in shape” and “lose 20 pounds.” “Build a business” is not the specific goal — “sell x amount of x product to x people” is. Then you build the business around that, to support it.

3.) Want it badly enough

Want it enough that you’re willing to make sacrifices (lifestyle, relationships, other opportunities, credit, etc.) and you’re willing to push through when your shit sandwich is more shit than sandwich.

Take Ownership

Too many people think “work ethic” or “trying” means “only when it’s easy,” but trying when it’s not easy is the entire point. The universe doesn’t hand out special awards for people who can carry on in clear skies and sunshine. The universe favors those who are out there sloughing in rain and snow and hurricanes. (Metaphorically speaking. Unless it’s not for you…?)

The only thing holding you back from what you want is you. And the excuses you make — like what you incorrectly assign to other things.

You are not a victim of your own life

If you think the world is out to get you, it’s because you’ve victimize yourself and it rushes in to fill that energy void, receiving your negative energy with negative energy. You see negative because negative is what you put out.

You will never achieve what you want if you spend your life as a victim — if you do the same mediocre, hapless thing but expect great things to happen.

If you never get what you want, that is no one’s fault but your own. You are the only one who is standing in the way.

Life doesn’t owe you anything

If you want something you have to work hard for it — not make excuses as to why you don’t have it, or whine and complain.

One of my good friends is a dude now in his mid-30’s whose primary goal in life is to find his wife. He’s tall, has a fantastic job, dresses well, owns his own place, and — most importantly — has a heart of gold. In other words, has tons of the shit most people look for on paper. But the dude can’t find a partner.

But he also refuses to do anything differently. I’ve known him for over five years and he still goes to the same bars and uses the same sites. I hired aninterpersonal coach to help me with sales after a few months of running my business — a woman whose primary business is actually dating coaching: helping people find their spouse. I referred him to her, but he never called. He makes enough money — he just doesn’t want to try.

I have another friend who — same thing — also wants to find a husband. And again, she thinks she’s trying — she puts in effort for dates, she “puts love out there” right away, and when each one doesn’t work, she always asks me: “what am I doing wrong??” But the problem is that she doesn’t actually want to be doing anything wrong. She doesn’t actually want to change. She doesn’t actually want to hear the answers. What she actually wants is to keep going into these relationships doing exactly what she’s always done and for that to magically work. And I’m not saying it won’t work out for her because I’m sure it will, but it might help the process along a little bit if she actually tried a bit, too, rather than only thinking she was.

People will say you have to “work you ass off” and “work really hard” to get what you want. And yeah, that certainly helps. But so many people aren’t trying at all! They think they’re trying but they’re off in left field, doing things that don’t work and too consumed with making excuses to ask questions and experiment — and take responsibility for the outcome.

Commit to your own life

Don’t pretend your life is someone else’s job — or at the hands of the universe. Quit making it about anything that isn’t “you.”

If you want your life to get better then start, living like it. Start doing something positive in the right direction and don’t stop until you get there, and keep going even once you do.

Join my email list, champ!

(Pro tip: you can also reach me through that link.)

Nothing External Matters, Only Our Reaction To It

It’s the only thing we actually control

External events do not harm us — only our responses to them can

It may sound counterintuitive — “of course external events can harm us!” we might protest, “I can get hit by a bus, or my partner might leave me!”

But the reality is that the story doesn’t actually end with the external occurrence, even though so many people think it does. We perceive and talk about these events as though they are the defining moment, and sort of gloss over everything available to us afterwards.

These events only have the power that we choose to give them. They only destroy us because we think they are destructive, and allow them to run our lives.

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And the same is true with anything external — not just other people.

If our judgement about any event is that it is horrible, then we allow ourselves to dwell in the belief that we are far worse off if they happen. But if we strip external events of their power, and reclaim our internal power to decide, gage, and assign value, we maintain control of our lives — and happiness.

Because our internal judgements are independent of external events, the occurrence of a bad event does not necessarily have to result in sadness.

If we lose something dear to us and get down ourselves, the problem is not the loss, but our outlook on it.

Life results in loss. Loss will happen. It’s part of being alive. And while loss looks different from person to person and we may experience different things, to go through life allowing any loss to bully us or push us around emotionally in any direction that it chooses is to surrender our control — and wellbeing.

We assign too much power to internal emotions as well

And not nearly enough to reason and balance; to reclaiming control rather than allowing ourselves to be rocked by what we feel.

Roman politician and lawyer Cicero said,

“When misfortunes appear on the horizon, we exaggerate then once more, because of the pain they are causing us. These feelings compel us to put blame on the circumstances when what we ought to be blaming is a deficiency in our own character.”

Obviously, most of us are not immune to external events. Most of us are going to feel negative emotions — anger, sadness, heartbreak, etc. — over negative things happening.

But recognizing that there is an inner core that is free no matter the circumstances, and recognizing that our mindset is not at the mercy of external events — or our immediate emotional response to it — but rather something that is under our own control can go a long way in fostering a healthier, happier outlook.

And it can help us maintain emotional wellbeing when things do go wrong — which they will.

All of us will experience setbacks and loss. But it is only our assessment of the loss and how much power we choose to give it, especially through emotion — that makes us sad. And our wellbeing, conversely, is also entirely in our own control — should we only choose.

Join my email list, champ!

(Pro tip: you can also reach me through that link.)

Los Angeles Is For Lovers

I’m in California right now, so here are my thoughts on LA

Okay, huge disclaimer: I have spent about 1 week total in LA in my life. Between this trip and the trip previously, both of which together reflect the entirely of my time here, I understand that I’m not the most qualified reviewer. That being said, it’s just, like, my opinion, man.

TL;DR — I could live in LA, pretty sure. Maybe everyone says that but I doubt it, because even though my mom seemed to think so when I told her this, I have a hard time believing that everyone (and their mom) is cut out for any kind of “city,” LA or not. (Maybe she thought I meant “California?” No idea.)

That all aside: I dig LA okay. There are pros and cons, of course — things I like and things I don’t — but for the most part, I certainly like it more than lame-ass Chicago (which I hated from the very first weekend I ever spent there, after which I boarded my plane home thinking, “I could never, ever live here” — even though I later went on to do just that for five years.)

Here’s my breakdown:

The LA I like:

“LA Weather”

I mean, duh. Unless you’re one of those sad souls who prefers wet overcast weather or year-round winters, you obviously like southern California weather. And no, it’s no humidity (which I love), but clearly it’s nice enough, and I’m pretty sure this is 99% of what my mom meant when she said “everyone wants to live there.”

“Fresh AF LA”

I’ve never lived in NYC, but I’ve been to both cities. And while I could live in either one (especially since it seems every writer somehow lives in NY), NY always has this sad, obsolete feel to it, like everyone’s still pretending it’s the 70s or 90s (fashion or banking, respectively), and nobody’s ready to move on.

LA has not only moved on, but they’re compulsively “rightthefucknow.”

“Day Trip LA”

Not that I’ve taken any, but I can Google Maps.

“Motorcycle LA”

I mean, of course. As a “commuter rider” myself, who rides daily back and forth to work and whose only vehicle is my bike, these people are my people.

“Hipster health food LA”

Awww yiss… mothafukkin health food! As I’ve said, I could easily eat a salad twice a day for the rest of my life and be so happy, and if you can keep me ever-impressed with new salad shit, I definitely wouldn’t tell you no.

“Gritty-ass LA”

I stayed in the Arts District last night and went full “privileged romanticization” on that shit — all the industrial lofts and street art (duh.) I want to eat the Arts District, and my airbnb was the stuff of grittiness dreams.

And again, maybe everyone says that, but I doubt it, because if half the reviews left on the airbnb are any indication, it’s clear not everyone is “down home” with “rough around the edges.”

“Creativity LA”

Hells yeah, lemme see what you can do.

I’d never want to be a visual artist / designer myself, and I like to keep my time with them to strict, pre-defined 10-minute blcoks, but I’d be lying if I said they don’t manage to put out the coolest shit. (Of course.)

“Latin LA”

Oh, the laid-back masculinity of the Latin influence! Not just Mexican food (which I’m sure is fantastic, if I ate it) but an overall cultural and architectural influence that’s thoroughly delightful.

“Little Ethiopia LA”

Dudes, I love me some Ethiopian food — the way it tastes; the way it’s eaten; its simplicity and consistency around the world. 100% my jam, and definitely my favorite of “the world’s” cuisines options.

The LA I’m neutral on:

“LA Traffic”

Call me crazy, but idgaf about traffic — in fact, I find it kinda zen. (And I know, I know — true lunatic over here. Clearly I wasn’t hugged enough as a child or something. I don’t know.)

“Sprawl LA”

Where does LA even end, bro? No idea. Not even sure LA knows. It’s all LA.

“The Beach (?)”

Imma be real honest — I don’t really care. You’ll never see this chick fighting you for space on the sand or chugging salt water or whatever it is you people do out there.

The LA I could do without:

“Tourism LA”

One of my favorite parts about living where I do in the south is the utterly laughable lack of tourist options. (Seriously, they have “the airport” listed in the top five hot spots for visitors, and when my mom came to visit I had to drive her several hours to find something halfway interesting for her besides the mall.) And I love this. I love the “boringness” of the area. Keep away, everyone — nothing to see here!

And the opposite was true when I lived in Chicago — some days, it was just so clean and sparkly and checklisty and lame.

I bet if I lived here, I’d never once make it to see Hollywood, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be caught dead on some “celebrity sighting” tourbus like a twat.

“Superficiality LA”

I mean, not just Beverly Hills or whatnot, but the overall prissiness of it sometimes.

Yesterday I saw a porcelain-skinned chick (I mean, #skingoals, obvs, but that aside) with primped fingernails that were so long she could scarcely eat, and I thought “you’re probably wonderful, but I’m sorry, we could never be friends.”

Related: “Sensor LA”

On the Myers Briggs scales, LA is, overall, so loudly and unapologetically “sensor” (ATTRACTIVE!! FILM!! SPORTS!! SPORTS CARS!!!! MONEYS!!) that it goes full circle and is sort of adorable

“Old-Bro LA”

Dude, the amount of west coast skater bros (with long unwashed hair, big ole bro sunglasses and saggy pants) who are pushing 40 (or more??) is too damn high.

To be fair, this dude ain’t my type regardless of age. But it’s eerie and makes me feel sad a little.

“Elitist hipster LA”

I wish I could just eat all their food without enduring their stupid menu item names and overall way of life’ing.

“Asian Food LA”

Does this make me a dick? I don’t know why it should. I don’t think the Asian food industry is so hard-up for validation that they can’t afford an alternative opinion.

I’m just not that into Asian food. I don’t eat fish and all pasta / noodles bores me to tears. So…

“Donut LA”

Apparently they’re a thing here? Sadly, I think I’ve thrown down on like 3 donuts my entire life, and definitely never any of these overly-sugared monstrosities that all the cool kids are noshing on these days.

I’m not moving to LA

Mostly because I live in the South, have a good thing going, and have no real reason to leave.

But hypothetically. I like it more than most other US cities.

Join my email list, champ!

(Pro tip: you can also reach me through that link.)

Several Things I Do Not Want

And some I just do not care about

Fancy-ass kitchen and liquor shit

Real talk: one of my top reasons — not the top reason, because I’m not a lunatic — for not wanting to get married and have a big blow-out wedding (behind bigger, real reasons like a.) seems dumb, b.) seems real dumb, c.) I don’t wanna pay for this dumb shit, and d.) not even sure I wanna get married!) is that I think wedding registries are some of the tackiest-ass impediments to our modern society.

I know I could do the whole “your presence in our present” shit on the wedding site (tacky in and of itself, tbh — both the site and the statement), but I don’t trust people, and just thinking about the fact that many people in my life (i.e., my mother) would “lol” at my request for “no gifts” and then blow up my whole life with stupid “well, I had to get you something!” shit regardless of our request makes me want to throw a poodle at the wall.

My mom is a compulsive gifter. I feel for her kind of, because the woman’s love language is deffffinitely “gifts,” and she’s just trying to do what she can to show us she cares. But every time she gifts me something after I’ve made it clear for like 20 fucking years that I. don’t. want. anything., the message of “I love you!” starts to read a little like “I love myself.”

I’m just not into shit.

You know those “I’m trying so hard to be an adult; look at me over here Adulting so hard” motherfuckers, who use their first real paycheck to buy fucking throw pillows and multi-colored ceramic measuring spoons and then, inexplicably, the queer little liquor cart decked out with shakers, strainers, jiggers, muddlers, and daddy’s fucking crystal decanters? Yeah, I am not them. I’m not saying they can’t fuck with their house how they want — you do you, boo boo — but I have never once, ever, in my entire life eyed shit like that and been all, “you know what my life’s been missing? Some fancy-ass way to drink the cocktails I don’t even enjoy.” And it’s not enough just to have them — no, by jove, let’s put it all on display!

Nah. Pour me a beer and let’s move on.

A yoga studio

Dudes, call me a traitor to my generation, but I have no idea where this BIG DREAM of owning a yoga studio came from for so many of my peers. The idea of brick and mortar scares me — and actually, so does the whole thing with most yoga classes. Bitches be weird.

A brewery

I mean, I like beer and all, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have no place in a brewery, for several reasons:

One: it takes a hygienic, engineer type to brew. It’s all chemistry and process and malts and temperature and I’ve been on like 92 brewery tours and I still couldn’t tell you much more than the word “mash.” Moving on.

Two: lol, when I say “I like beer,” I mean I order beers by asking for something “drinkable.” (And I am totally delighted every time the bartender knows what I mean and pours it without judgment.) I don’t want an “experiential” beer; I’m not looking for a relationship here (and if I were, I’m not into “complicated,” needy shit.) I like my beer boring. I’ll drink the same shit day after day and not care. I only recently got into IPA, and even then I like the ones that taste halfway “lagered.” (No, that’s not real. I made it up.)

Three: I make beer terms up.

To run a marathon

I am convinced that 99.999% of people who run marathons just do it because they got off on saying “I’ve run a marathon” (or, more specifically: “I’m training for a marathon.”) I once worked with a girl, real post-sorority chick (not that there’s anything wrong with sororities but I think you know what I’m saying), who, to my great misfortune, decided to train for a marathon. Now, mind you, this girl was not a Runner. I think she mostly did it for the apps and new shoes. That, and the chance to tell me every. single. day. what route she ran, her distance, her time, updates on her injury (it was a toe), and days left until the race.

I don’t think I could have anticipated that marathon more if I’d been running it myself. (Just 27, 26, 25 more days of this blabber in my ear.)

When I was later in consulting, I had a year-long client in Boston, and had the life-altering experience of being there for The Marathon. The Boston Marathon is no longer a running event. “Getting into” The Boston Marathon is treated like getting into Harvard. Running it is received with Much Applause.

When people are genuine about something, they don’t go around needing to tell everyone about it. I’m not even sure they need sanctioned events (I mean, you people realize that you can run 26.2 miles whenever you damn well please, right?) And I know tons of people want to talk about all the fundraising and whatnot, but again: you realize you can donate whenever you want, right?

Also, as a total aside: I do not like running. And not only that, but I am terrible at it. I run like Big Bird. I once signed up for a 5K — at my friend’s urging, who swore up and down that the “Couch to 5K” was a program of easy-peasy bodily miracles — and even though I stuck to the program damnit, walk-running every day like I was prompted, about two weeks into it, I was like “yeah no — I’m walking that 5K.”

A massive closet

Totally silly and superfluous. I love living a life in which all of my clothing can fit in one suitcase (sans my five pairs of shoes, because boots and wedge heels are bulky, man.) If I had a massive closet, I think I’d probably go in there periodically and just stare at it with a combination of anxiety and anger, like “I’m paying $50 a month for you, you square footage money suck. Make yourself useful.”

Granted, I feel this way with most superfluously large spaces. I once lived in one of those massive renovated warehouse lofts with a big, cavernous “foyer” that ran more than halfway down its length until you finally got to the kitchen / living room area, and it truly unnerved me. I was never at ease in that space. I like my living spaces tight — my favorite place so far was 200 sq. feet, and I’ll happily live in places under 1,000 with a partner.

A drink or food menu item named after me

Oh dear. Excuse me while I slide down the front of this chair and army-crawl out the door. I didn’t realize you’d noticed I came here that much, and now I have to quietly amend this by never, ever coming back ever.

It’s weird AF. Like, are they still handing out Field Day ribbons somewhere, too? Maybe some adult-ass toys with meals? “I am special” star stickers? Please no.

Also, what if it’s something lame? What if it’s some stupid sugary concoction?

Or what if it’s meatloaf? What if it’s bad meatloaf?

Norah Ephron had a meatloaf named after her at Graydon Carter’s restaurant, the Monkey Bar. Because Ephron was a decidedly normal type of gal, she was obviously flattered, like most people would be — and immediately went to the place to try it out. I think it was good at first. I don’t remember. But either way, come a few months (and maybe a manager change or something?) Ephron comes back for her meatloaf again and realizes they’ve changed the recipe and it’s total garbage. She writes to them. Maybe they change it; I don’t recall — obviously I wasn’t that invested in this meatloaf story, even though I’m retelling it to you here — but I don’t think they did. And they finally just took it off the menu.

Dude. What if that happened?

Fuck Your “Planning”

Planning is procrastination, not action

Originally part of “The 1 Most Important Thing To Be Successful.”

“What’s the plan? We need a plan!”

If there’s one thing in a work-environment that makes me want to punch a kitten, it’s when people react to uncertainty with words like, “the plan,” “the process,” “the procedure.” And here’s why:

Needing “a plan” is always fear-based.

The issue isn’t plans — plans are fine, in and of themselves. The issue is people who can’t do anything without plans, whose knee-jerk, default response to any unknown is to compulsively “figure out a plan” — to get “certainty.”

News flash: there is no certainty.

And when you obsess over perfecting something that’s inherently imperfect, you immobilize yourself. Defining how the problem could be solved isn’t actually solving the problem.

Planning is procrastination, not action.

And plans are never “the work.”

As Eric Ravenscraft wrote in LifeHacker,

“Procrastinating feels lazy… Planning, brainstorming, and discussing feels productive because you’re talking about doing stuff. If you don’t move to action, though, there’s no difference between the two.”

We’re socialized to “plan,” and that’s fine. But when you start to idealize the plan, spending more time and focus on perfecting it than executing, it becomes a problem.

And as Lily Herman wrote in The Muse,

“We’re told to plan ahead… to look before we leap, plan before we act… When you procrastinate working on a project, you’re not doing anything to further that project. In other words, the amount of time you’re spending on your actual task is zero. Similarly, when you over-plan, the amount of time you’re spending on working on that project is also zero.”

If you’re planning, you’re not taking action. The longer you do the former, the longer you delay the latter. They are not one in the same, and anyone who thinks planning is “the work” needs to be tossed into the deep end of the pool and learn to swim.

“Planning” is mental masturbation

When I was a kid, my mom would leave us these handwritten chore lists before she went to work. She did this every day for years, rewriting the lists over and over —which is ridiculous because: they had the same exact chores 99% of the time.

After a while we knew what to do (my brother and I still today remember: I cleaned the upstairs bathroom, he did the downstairs; I vacuumed the second floor, he did the first; I dusted, he unloaded the dishwasher; etc.)

My mother didn’t write those lists for us. She wrote them for herself. It was just psychologically-soothing to her — because list-making always is.

I love writing my goals down. I’ve got monthly goals, yearly goals, five year goals, and a loose idea of what I want next week, in six months, and by the time I’m 50. And even though they’re already written, sometimes I still rewrite them — in particularly stressful times, I’ll rewrite them compulsively, over and over, mentally masturbating over the way my pen moves to make each familiar letter and word. But, as you can guess, this isn’t actual headway.

Goal-writing, like many lists, is just self-soothing. It’s a great first step, but it’s not how things are accomplished.

Yes, experts tell you to “write it down”

Some readers are dying to tell me how the “productivity” and “success” masters all say so. And my dudes, I like Napoleon Hill as much as the next guy, but I also recognize that that circle-jerk will only get you so far.

Many people have accomplished shit they never wrote down (and many people obsess over lists they never achieve.)

For years I included “write a novel” on my long-term list, and for years I made no progress on it.

Here’s how I actually ended up writing one: two days into November 2012, I learned it was “National Novel Writing Month.” Despite a late start (and missing “Outlining October”), I wrote a 50,000-word novel in two weeks. (And I had a full-time job at the time; this was entirely after 5 pm and on weekends.)

If you want to write it down, then do it. I still do.

But when you’re actually ready, you’ll just get it done.

I know there are people who disagree

I know some of you are reeling at this suggestion, huffing and pissy like, “You have to have a plan!”

Fuck off. No you don’t.

I have built multi-million programs — and my own business — without a plan. I earned six digits by my mid-20s without a plan. I lost 20 pounds without a plan. I grew my presence on Medium without a plan. I wrote the novel without a plan.

All I had in all these examples was: a singular, high-level objective, a driving desire to achieve it, and binary metrics of success (did I hit it: yes or no?)

No diet plan in the word will overcome your self-delusion if you’re not actually deeply serious about and committed to losing weight. (And on the flip side: when you’re deeply committed, you’re never a slave to the plan.) It’s the same with anything.

And again: I know full well that people want to @ me over this, insisting plans are “crucial,” because people who crave plans are so deeply ingrained with the fear of not having them that they can’t conceptualize it, instead getting defensive about how “important” they are. But whatever — I shared what I’ve achieved without them, and I know what I’m about, son.

Give me a doer over a planner any day

I have worked with a remarkable number of “planners” who are totally useless when it comes to achieving a goal.

I just can’t with people who spend more time “updating the plan” or “overhauling the process” than they do actually doing the thing; who respond to any change — and there’s always change, because this is real life, people! — with panic and the compulsion to touch the plan. It’s all they know: plan after plan after plan. Always planning, and then more planning.

I once worked with a senior-level manager who responded to every “fire” by immediately whipping out his big ole brick of a laptop to update his project plan instead of actually resolving the problem (which of course secured the opportunity to update the plan again the next day when it only got worse.) He and I had a very real throwdown when I refused to do the same, neglecting “the plan” updates and instead running around to resolve shit. The “documents” were always out of date, but I rarely missed a deadline. (And “plans” are obsolete then minute you hit “save” anyway, losing value faster than a new car driving off the lot.)

I have managed teams of up to 20 or 25 people, and I’ll tell you this: give me a doer over a planner any day of the week. Given the choice between someone who can execute on just high-level objectives or someone who first needs to “plan” and “process” every time we have a hiccup, I’ll take the former every. single. time. With zero hesitation. I don’t have time for people who are immobilized by lack of clarity. Life is lack of clarity. The goal gives “clarity.” Go.

Done is better than perfect. Action is better than theoretical perfection.

“Preparation” is not the same as “perfectionist planning”

Nobody is telling you to walk into a client meeting or an interview unprepared. Nobody is suggesting you go all renegade on shit and Jackson Pollack your entire life. (Though you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I do veer into this territory.)

There’s a difference between preparing for discrete events — buying some baby shit for the arrival of an infant — and planning that shit into the ground. I bet the number of moms who throw out their beloved “birth plan” is higher than those who keep them.

It’s about headspace and mentality

Someone armored with “the perfect plan” but still crumbling internally by fear and uncertainty is going to perform worse than someone without a plan but full of confidence. Someone who is petrified, and clutches their plan as though it will protect them, is going to cave under pressure and go running back to it, whereas someone who’s just fucking ready is going to be fine.

Nobody likes networking events. But getting yourself into the right headspace is eons better than having a detailed plan and flash cards of conversation starters.

Confidence comes from action — and focusing on the right thing

The difference between people who are confident without plans and those who are emotionally dependent on them is that the former group’s “certainty” comes from their focus on the high-level goal rather than the execution of minutia. They can make adjustments, adapt and keep taking action, because all they care about is the thing that actually matters, which is getting what they set out for.

“Planners,” on the other hand, often get so tangled up in “adhering to the plan” that they lose focus on the thing that actually matters — or confuse it with “the plan,” honestly thinking that moving through their checklist is the most important thing, and “success” is following it exactly. (Doesn’t matter if we had fun on vacation — we did everything on the list! We didn’t land the deal, but we followed the plan!) I just can’t with these people.

If you want progress, stop giving in to fear and a compulsive need for “certainty.” Build confidence through action, not outlines. Focus on the end goal, not the game plan. Adapt. Act.