Start Living Today is a workbook to help you figure what your goals in life are and puts you on the path towards achieving them. I used this workbook myself and this is what I think about it.
Some time ago, I published a post about how to achieve anything you want in life, I shared how I had this awakening moment where I felt the need to make a change and decided I no longer wanted to be a passerby in my own life, but to live consciously and with a purpose and a plan in order to create the type of life I want to live.
And this week, I am going to share with you something that can help you figure out the kind of goals you need to have in front of you and which can help you put your feet on the first steps towards achieving them.
This post is my review of the Start Living Today workbook by one of my favourite bloggers, Vanessa C. Dias (The Wellbeing Blogger). It is “a 30-page e-book designed to help people organise their goals and life in general.”
This workbook was gifted to me to use it and share my honest thoughts about it here.
This review is more of my own reflection and my thoughts on some parts of the workbook. This post certainly does not contain all the material or all the ideas discussed in this workbook. You can jump to my conclusion here.
What does your life look like?
When reading the intro to this workbook, I couldn’t help but relate to every word. The motive behind creating this workbook was also my motive to finally stop wondering about what my life could have been like, had I been there or had I done that, and start taking actual steps towards creating the life I want to live.
“I craved real change and I was tired of reading and listening to hundreds and hundreds of inspirational messages without achieving any real progress in life.” Dias says in the intro.
This workbook is designed with the purpose of helping you take this step too. To define your goals in life and work your way through towards achieving them.
The book starts by first helping you figure out what your life consists of and what matters to you in general.
What does your life currently look like? What are the things that are most important to you?
In order to make real progress in life, you need to have a very clear and defined point of view which will help you create a plan, but you first need to know exactly where you are in life and exactly where you want to be.
Where do you want to be in life?
After you make a list of the most important aspects/dimensions of your life, the workbook helps you decide where you stand now in each dimension of life, and it then proceeds to take you step by step to see how you can achieve the progress you need in order to get where you want to be in each of these aspects you specified.
The design of the workbook itself is created in a way that helps you write down every thing. There are questions to lead you on and then there are spaces so you can go ahead and write down your thoughts.
This way you become more aware of each aspect of your life. You are able to have an overview of your thoughts on each aspect in an organized, written form, and this makes you see things more clearly.
What is the story of your future self?
Towards the end of this workbook, you are asked to write the story of your life, given that you have followed all the steps in the book and achieved all the goals set there. And this was my favourite part!
As you have documented the way you see everything in your life right now and what you wish to change or achieve. You will have a clear idea of what kind of life you would be having when you do all those steps and achieve your goals.
When writing this part, of what my life would look like, describing everything in detail and including every aspect of my life that I wish to progress in, it honestly felt incredible.
It felt real and doable. It felt like this is something that I can work through and achieve. It made me want to move and start taking more actions towards my dream life, and start taking them right now.
What do I think of this workbook?
To be completely honest, when I first checked this workbook, I didn’t really feel like it could be of any help to me. I thought in my mind, “well, I already know this stuff,” and so I was skeptic that it was actually going to help me much.
But I decided to sit down and follow through and write down the answer to every question anyway, because I wanted to review it, and I wanted the review to be honest and based on my own experience with it.
After I went through all the questions and wrote the last answer to the last question.. I felt amazing! I felt happy and motivated.
There is a huge difference between knowing the answers to the questions in your head, and taking the time to sit down and write them in detail.
You may actually surprise yourself with things you didn’t even know were on your mind, or things that just slipped your mind due to the many other aspects of your life that you are juggling everyday.
The best part about this workbook, and why it is different from reading a self-help book, for example, is that it is something that actually pushes you to take steps as you go with every page.
So you’re not just sitting there, stuffing words into your brain that may or may not stick with you, you’re actually applying what you learn, and with every page you take a practical step forward towards your goal.
Final words on this:
If you already have your plan figured out and/or already took the first steps towards achieving your goals, it may still be helpful in the way that it was to me, helping me write down things I didn’t realize I had in mind, but I honestly don’t think it is mainly designed for you.
If you are someone who feels they are not living a life they are happy with, or if you feel like you need to make a change and you just don’t know how to start and you wish someone could help you and talk you through it, then this workbook will definitely help you.
It is going to help you have a closer look at your current situation and encourage you to think of different ways to make it better.
Till next week, happy days!
As explained by the creator of this workbook:
It’s may be a good alternative for those who don’t want or aren’t ready yet to work with a professional coach/psychologist and still want to improve their quality of life.
This workbook is currently available as an e-book.
This week’s post is about one of the most informative and insightful books I have read on achieving financial freedom so far: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth, by T. Harv Eker, which “reveals the missing link between wanting success and achieving it.”
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind* has sold over a million copy worldwide and has been a #1 best seller on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today; its main mantra is “think rich to get rich.”
The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 is introducing you to the meaning of your “money blueprint,” how to find out what yours is and how to transform it to one that can make you capable of achieving financial success and growing wealth; part 2 gives you the Wealth Files, the 17 ways of thinking that differentiate the rich from the poor and middle-class people and how to apply them.
I wouldn’t call this an actual book review; it is more of my reflection and my thoughts on some parts of the book. This post certainly does not contain all the material or all the ideas discussed in this book. I’m only briefly sharing here, in 5 points, the highlights of the parts that has affected my own way of thinking and which I applied to my life. (All the quotes mentioned in this post are taken from the book.)
1. What Is Your Money Blueprint?
Eker begins the book by explaining what it means to have a money blueprint, that since the world is made of duality such as hot and cold, up and down, in and out, right and left, for one to exist the other has to exist as well. And, similarly, since there are some outer laws of money, there must also be some inner laws of money; ones that come from within the person and which can dictate their outer results of achieving wealth.
Some of the ways you can figure out your own money blueprint is through looking back at the environment you grew up in: What was your culture or neighbourhood like? What was their stand on money or on rich people? What did you hear or see regarding money? What famous sayings you heard about rich people? And how did your own parents handle money? Was there a lot or was it lacking? Has it ever caused any troubles? –In general, you need to dissect your own experience growing up and see whether it was positively or negatively affected with money, whether its abundance or lack thereof
Recall that thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results. Everything begins with your thoughts—which are produced by your mind.
Knowing your blueprint is important because it leads to understanding your current money situation and helps you answer questions like, why am I not rich? or why do I make a lot of money but still unable to save any? or why do I keep losing money every so often? and so on. He guarantees that any money-related issue that you may have at the moment, you shall find the reason to it, and therefore be able to solve it, when you know your money blueprint.
2. The Four Quadrants of Life
Eker explains that we do not just live in one form of existence but four of them: the physical world, the mental world, the emotional world, and the spiritual world. The work you do on the last three decides the result you will see in your physical world.
So, whenever things in your outer life are not going well, that means things in your inner life are not going well. Focusing on fixing the result will not change it, you need instead to focus on fixing the causes.
And he uses an example to someone who typed a document, printed it, then found a typo, so they take out their eraser and erase the mistake and re-print the paper again to find the same typo.
They try to erase it again with a bigger eraser this time and they even go ahead and study a three-hundred page manual called Effective Erasing. Once they feel ready, they then go ahead and print the paper, but to their amazement, they still get the document with the same typo again, nothing changed.
He explains that this is what most people try to do when dealing with problems in their life, they don’t see where the real cause is; the problem was never the printed copy, but the original document in the computer; not the physical output, but the program itself.
Money is a result, wealth is a result, health is a result, illness is a result, your weight is a result. We live in a world of cause and effect.
3. The Wealth Files
Throughout the second part of the book, Eker shares the 17 things that rich people do differently; the secrets that set apart the rich from the poor.
I will share here a very brief explanation of each one of the points, however, in the book, these are all thoroughly explained and with plenty of examples and methods on how to achieve each of these points yourself.
1. Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”
In this one Eker explains that while rich people always believe they are in control of their life and they take full responsibility for anything that happens, poor people usually prefer to be the victim of their story. He then gives you clues on how to tell if you or someone you know is one of those who always likes to play the victim role.
Victim clue #1: Blame
Poor people always look for someone else to blame for their financial failure. That could be their parents, their boss, the economy, the government, anyone but them.
Victim clue #2: Justifying
They’re always justifying why they don’t have money by saying things like “money is not really important,” while rich people understand the importance of money.
Quoting below one of my favourite parts in the book:
Poor people validate their financial ineptitude by using irrelevant comparisons. They’ll argue, “Well, money isn’t as important as love.” Now is that comparison dumb or what? What’s more important, your arm or your leg? Maybe they’re both important.
Money is extremely important in the areas in which it works, and extremely unimportant in the areas in which it doesn’t.
Not convinced? Try paying your bills with love. Still not sure? Then pop on over to the bank and try depositing some love and see what happens.
Victim clue #3: Complaining
Poor people always have something to complain about. And if you read about the laws of attraction, you know that you only attract more of what you think of and what you talk about.
So, the more you complain about things, the more you attract them to you.
When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing “crap magnet.”
2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
Usually poor people want to have enough money to pay the bills. They want just enough to cover their necessities.
While the middle-class people are a little step further, they want just enough money to feel comfortable.
Rich people on the other hand are playing the money game to win big, they want massive wealth. Their goal is to be rich, not to have enough to pay the bills or have enough to just be comfortable.
If your goal is to be comfortable, chances are you’ll never get rich. But if your goal is to be rich, chances are you’ll end up mighty comfortable.
3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
While everyone wants to be rich and have a lot of money, not everyone is willing to make the commitment to get there. And one of the reasons most people don’t get there is because they have negative thoughts around making money.
Eker gives real life examples of thoughts that some people has shared with him like, “what if I make it and lose it? Then I’ll really be a failure” or “it’s too much work,” or “I could be robbed,” or “I’ll never know if people like me for myself or my money,” and so on.
One minute the universe hears that you want to be rich, so it begins sending you opportunities for wealth. But then it hears you say “Rich people are greedy,” so the universe begins to support you in not having much money. But then you think, “Having a lot of money makes life so much more enjoyable,” so the poor universe, dazed and confused, re-starts sending you opportunities for more money. The next day you’re in an uninspired mood so you think, “Money’s not that important.”
The frustrated universe finally screams, “Make up your frickin’ mind! I’ll get you what you want, just tell me what it is!”
4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
How many people do you deliver your services or knowledge to? How many people do you affect? Rich people always think big, they want to reach and affect as many people as they can.
He gives an example for trainers in his business and how each vary, some are comfortable in training a class of only 20 people while others would rather have 1000 people or more per class. Obviously, each of these people are paid differently.
If you are going into a business with the intention to just succeed in this one project, this is what you will get; one successful project, and an okay financial outcome. But if you are going in with the intention of creating a brand of 100 successful projects, that’s what you’ll get and that’s how you’ll become rich.
Most people choose to play and think small either because they are afraid of failure, or they don’t have enough confidence in themselves and what they’re capable of. But when you think small, you act small and therefore you affect a small number of people, while when you think big, it leads you to big actions and a meaningful life where you help as many people as possible with your services and knowldege.
Your life is not just about you. It’s also about contributing to others. It’s about being true to your mission and reason for being here on this earth at this time…Most people are so stuck in their egos that everything revolves around me, me, and more me. But if you want to be rich in the truest sense of the word, it can’t only be about you. It has to include adding value to other people’s lives.
5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
The difference between the poor, the middle-class, and the rich in looking at a certain situation/opportunity:
The poor, “What if it doesn’t work?” or “It won’t work.” The middle-class, “I sure hope this works.” The rich, “It will work because I will make it work.”
Do you want some simple but extremely rare advice? Here it is: If you want to get rich, focus on making, keeping, and investing your money. If you want to be poor, focus on spending your money. You can read a thousand books and take a hundred courses on success, but it all boils down to that. Remember, what you focus on expands.
6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
He states here that one of the reasons that poor people can’t seem to get rich is that they often view rich people as bad people. If you think they’re bad people, and you want to be a good person then, by default, you will never be one of them.
And he gives an example of when he found himself being treated with resentment whenever he would pass by poor areas where some of the people there would look at him and treat him as some kind of an evil person. Some would go as far as insulting him or throwing stuff at him, just because he was driving an expensive car, but then when he went to the same neighbourhood with a somewhat cheaper car, no one seemed to bother him or even notice him.
He then shares another story about when he, himself, at some point in his life, was of those people who criticized rich people and felt they were sometimes greedy or thought they were cold and unfriendly, and how that changed when he became rich, moved to a rich neighbourhood and started interacting with other rich people to find that they were the exact opposite of what he expected them to be; some of the most kind, friendly, and charitable people he has ever met.
…”Bless that which you want.” If you see a person with a beautiful home, bless that person and bless that home. If you see a person with a beautiful car, bless that person and bless that car. If you see a person with a beautiful family, bless that person and bless that family. If you see a person with a beautiful body, bless that person and bless that body.
7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
Rich people are always learning from those who achieved wealth before them. They look for ways to get in touch with those people and learn from their mistakes, know how they think, and maybe even copy their steps to achieve their own financial success. They think, “If they can do it, I can do it.”
While most poor people only surround themselves with similarly poor people and when they hear of people’s success they often tend to judge them and bring them down. He explains that energy is contagious, so if you surround yourself with negative people, that’s what you’ll get, more negativity. However, if you surround yourself with successful and positive-minded people, that’s what you’ll end up becoming.
If you want to fly with the eagles, don’t swim with the ducks.
8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
This is about how people view the concept of “marketing and promotion.”
Some people maybe dislike it due to their own negative experience of having other people promoting their unwanted services to them and so they don’t feel like promoting is the right way to get there. Others may think that it is not proper manners to praise your own service or product. While some people think if you want their product, you should find them on your own, and they think of promoting as something that is beneath them.
But regardless of your take on promotion and marketing yourself or your services, if you are not going to use every suitable opportunity you get to promote, you will most likely never get rich. And it is quite logical, if no one knows about you and what you do, no one will be asking for your services or buying your products.
Rich people are almost always excellent promoters. They can and are willing to promote their products, their services, and their ideas with passion and enthusiasm. What’s more, they’re skilled at packaging their value in a way that’s extremely attractive.
If you think there’s something wrong with that, then let’s ban makeup for women, and while we are at it, we might as well get rid of suits for men. All that is nothing more than “packaging.”
9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
Getting rich is hard work, and it is full of obstacles and possible risks and problems. Poor people often avoid anything that may lead to a problem. So it’s hard for them to accept any form of challenge, because challenges often come with problems. Rich people on the other hand work on themselves so hard so that whenever a problem arises it wouldn’t affect their journey, they will deal with it and keep going.
He gives an example to help you see the difference, comparing your own strength level as a person and how big or small a problem is on a scale of 1 to 10. If you are a person with a strength and knowledge of a level 2 and you face a problem of a level 5, this will definitely be a big problem which you will find hard to overcome.
Now if you work on yourself and grow and become a person of level 8 and face the exact same level 5 problem, you will feel like you can handle it; it’s just a small problem now.
And if you work even harder on yourself and become a level 10 person, would a problem with level 5 even affect you in anyway? Most likely, not. You will no longer even view it as a problem, you will just deal with it as a normal task on the way.
The secret to success is not to try to avoid or get rid of or shrink from your problems; the secret is to grow yourself so that you are bigger than any problem.
10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
He explains here how important it is to be willing and accepting to receive and how most poor people have difficulty with that.
Most people think they are simply unworthy or undeserving of receiving things. He addresses how low self-esteem and how the way some people were raised as children can become a major factor affecting their ability to feel worthy enough to receive more.
Can you imagine a squirrel saying, “I’m not going to collect many nuts this year to prepare for winter because I’m unworthy”? Doubtful, because these low-intelligence creatures would never do that to themselves. Only the most evolved creature on the planet, the human being, has the ability to limit itself like this. …If a hundred-foot oak tree had the mind of a human, it would only grow to be ten feet tall!
Others believe that it is better to just be a giver than to be a receiver. And to them he explains that this is not true. You must be willing to receive just as much as you are willing to give. If you work hard for something, then you are in every way deserving to receive the rewards.
Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Whoever decided that it is better to give than to receive was simply bad at math. For every giver there must be a receiver, and for every receiver there must be a giver.
And living with this concept does not only apply to money but to everything else in life. Once you are willing to receive, you will be receiving more of everything; more love, more peace, more happiness, and so on.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
Most poor people prefer to be paid for their time, to receive the same amount of money at the same time every month. Because this creates more security. But if they only make money for security, then fear is their motivation. So, instead of going for wealth, they settle for just enough to survive.
Rich people prefer to get paid based on their performance, what they create, the results they provide. And this allows them to get paid in percentage or have commission or live off profits of their business.
Poor people would fear taking such step because there is no guarantee that they will succeed if they go ahead and start their own business and start getting paid for their worth and their value. And there are indeed no guarantees. Just as there is no guarantee that someone will lead a happy and successful life living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Rich people believe in themselves. They believe in their value and in their ability to deliver it. Poor people don’t. That’s why they need “guarantees.”
12. Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”
Now this is one of my favourite parts in the book. He says that the difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich live in a world of abundance and the poor live in a world of limitations.
Poor and most middle-class people come from scarcity. They live by mottos such as “…. you can’t have everything.” And although you may not be able to have “everything,” as in all the things in the world, I do think you can certainly have “everything you really want.”
They often think that you can either have money or have happiness; you can either have a secure, well-paying job or do what you love; you can either focus on business or have fun; there is always an either/or question.
Rich people use their mind and their creativity to find a way to have the best of both worlds; to be rich and also be happy, to work hard and also have time for their family.
Rich people don’t have the either/or mindset, instead they think, “How can I have both?”
Rich people believe “You can have your cake and eat it too!” Middle-class people believe “Cake is too rich, so I’ll only have a little piece.” Poor people don’t believe they deserve cake, so they order a doughnut, focus on the hole, and wonder why they have “nothing.”
13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
Here you get the difference between your income and your net worth. Net worth is financial value of everything you own. While working income is the money you get every month for your active working hours plus the one you get from your passive income. And that is only one of the four factors affecting your net worth.
Rich people focus on building their net worth as opposed to just focusing on increasing their active working income alone.
The four net worth factors are:
1. Income 2. Savings 3. Investments 4. Simplifications
He explains each one of them and then gives you examples on how to achieve all four to create your own net worth.
14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
You learn here that one of the differences between rich and poor is that rich people know exactly how to manage their money to make them more money. While most poor people would think that you first need to have a lot of money in order to start managing it, but the thing is, if you don’t know how to manage your money, you will never have a lot of it. It’s when you manage it that you start saving more, investing more, and therefore making more.
He also advices you on how to manage your money and divide it on separate accounts for investment, saving, leisure spending, education, giving, and life necessities.
Until you show you can handle what you’ve got, you won’t get any more!
15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
This is one of the first things I learned and which made me realize that I need to start going for the passive income route if I ever want to achieve financial freedom.
In this file, Eker explains that most people aren’t even aware of the concept that you can make your money work for you, and that is why they never stop working for it.
On the other hand, rich people know that they need to work hard for their money until they make enough of it, that their money can take over and start working for them. The trick to be able to achieve this is to get educated on the different methods you can invest your money.
And he says that there are two primary sources of passive income: You either have your “money working for you” which means you go for investment options like funds, stock, etc, or you have your “business working for you” which is through gaining profits off your own business such as book or music royalties, or courses, etc..; and most rich people do both.
He also emphasizes on the importance of starting to get involved in real estate as soon as you can.
While poor people see a dollar as a dollar to trade for somethings they want right now, rich people see every dollar as a “seed” that can be planted to earn more dollars, which can then be replanted to earn a thousand more dollars.
16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
In this wealth file, he explains that both rich and poor people have doubts, fears, and worries, the difference is the rich don’t let those feelings stop them from taking a step forward.
Poor people don’t like leaving their comfort zone. They only do what’s convenient and what makes them comfortable, and escape from anything that makes them feel any kind of worry or discomfort, when the only way to actually learn and grow is by getting out of your comfort zone.
If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.
17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
The difference here is that rich people don’t stop learning. They never assume that they now know everything. And because they keep learning, they keep growing, and they become the best at what they do. And when you are the best at what you do, you get paid the best.
You can be right or you can be rich, but you can’t be both.
After every lesson in this book, you get some form of conclusion and, throughout the book, by the end of every lesson, he gives you a “declaration, ” and encourages you to declare it, out loud.
This declaration can be the form of change or the decision that you will make to transform your life and your thoughts to become more open to financial success and overcome any previously inherited thoughts or beliefs that may have interfered with you moving forward.
He believes that the declarations you make to yourself are a powerful secret for change. And he explains the difference between an affirmation and a declaration is that: An affirmation is using a positive statement to state that a goal you wish to achieve is already happening, while a declaration is you stating your intentions that you are willing to undertake a certain course of action to achieve a goal.
And he thinks that the former doesn’t usually work because we often know deep down that it is not really true, while the latter is more believable and effective.
Now I have to admit that when I first heard of all this, I said, “No way. This declaration stuff is too hokey for me.” But because I was broke at the time, I decided, “What the heck, it can’t hurt,” and started doing them. Now I’m rich, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I believe that declarations really work.
Either way, I’d rather be really hokey and really rich than really cool and really broke.
5. Millionaire Mind Actions
After you read the declarations at the end of every wealth file, he gives you a list of things that you need to do in order to train yourself to act and think like the rich.
Every one of the 17 wealth files has a list of actions for you to do to be able to apply these lessons to your own life.
I will end this post with another one of my favourite quotes from the book:
Money will only make you more of what you already are. If you’re mean, money will afford you the opportunity to be meaner. If you’re kind, money will afford you the opportunity to be kinder. If you’re a jerk at heart, with more money you can be jerkier. (I know there’s no such word, but if you’re a real jerk, you’ll find a way.) If you’re generous, more money will allow you to be more generous. And anyone who tells you different is broke!
If you found this post anywhere near helpful or inspiring, let me tell you that the book is 100 times more helpful and more inspiring!
This one is probably my longest post so far and I still couldn’t contain even half the thoughts and ideas I got out of the book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. So, go ahead and read it!
Till next week, happy days!
This Book Is Available On Amazon
Where Else To Find This Book
You can listen to this as anaudiobook on audiobooksnow.com (with 50% off your first purchase).
Or read it on your phone/tablet as ane-book on ebooks.com (for $0.99).
And if you don’t want to commit to buying, you can just rent this book from booklender.com.
*Disclaimer: Links with* are affiliate links. Meaning that, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through one of these links, you are supporting me to get a small commission from this sale.
“Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.”
— Austin Kleon
Reading a good book is one of my favourite things to do. But I passed with three different stages of reading love. I fell in love with reading sometime in high school. First, I loved it because it would immerse me in a whole different world. I enjoyed old-English novels and plays. I would open a book and all of a sudden I’m walking into someone’s castle in 1840. It was magical and as close as it gets to time-travel.
Then, years later, when I decided to take my fiction writing passion seriously, I began reading to learn more about the techniques and how writers write. I was reading so I can write better.
The third stage is when I found that there are so many things that I need to learn which were not taught to me in school. So, I began to read non-fiction books; books about the things I need to learn to live better.
And since I have created this blog to share my journey and the things I learn along the way, I decided I will have a book recommendation post every once in a while, maybe once a month, to share my favourite books that contain helpful and useful tips and which inspire me through my journey (also a way to encourage myself to read more!). And hopefully those posts and those books would help and inspire whoever reads them too.
As the first post in 2019 (happy new year!) I thought I would start the year with something inspiring and motivating. So, in this post, I will share some ideas and tips from one really interesting book.
Steal Like An Artist* by Austin Kleon: A New York Times best-selling “manifesto for creativity in the digital age.” The book is full of inspiring material; it is written in the form of short tips over ten chapters and a total of 160 pages (that’s the copy I’ve read).
I wouldn’t call this a book review, it is more of my reflection on the book. This post certainly does not contain all the material or all the ideas. I’m only briefly discussing here, in 5 points, the highlights of the parts that has affected my own way of thinking and approaching creativity. (All the quotes mentioned in this post are taken from the book.)
1. Nothing is Original
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
The first bold statement this book makes is: Nothing is original.
It continues to elaborate that in order to truly be able to create things, you ought to embrace the fact that you are and will be inspired by other people’s ideas and that it’s okay to be inspired by them and use their ideas as a way to build your own unique creative product.
In Kleon’s words: When you look at the world this way, you stop worrying about what’s “good” and what’s “bad”– there’s only stuff worth stealing and stuff that’s not worth stealing.
“The only art I will ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”
But that does not in anyway mean you should copy/paste ideas and claim them your own; however, it is about encouraging you to study your favourite successful people in your niche, those who achieved greatness and those who you are influenced by and aspire to be like and study everything they did, then go ahead and find who this person’s hero is and study everything they did, and then move to that person’s hero, and so on.
“You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.”
This way you are not just stealing one idea from one person (which is plagiarism), you are collecting as many worthy ideas as you can from all the people that you find inspiring and the people they found inspiring!
You then move from the copying process to the creating process; from imitation to emulation. It is when you take everything you have learned and all the ideas you copied and try to create your own.
Kleon writes: Conan O’Brien has talked about how comedians try to emulate their heroes, fall short, and end up doing their own thing. Johnny Carson tried to be Jack Benny but ended up Johnny Carson. David Letterman tried to copy Johnny Carson but ended up David Letterman. And Conan O’Brien tried to be David Letterman but ended up Conan O’Brien.
“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.”
2. Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are
Start now. If you want to write a book, if you want to start a business, if you want to change careers, whatever it is that you dream of doing and just think that you are not qualified enough for it, or you should wait until the right moment comes, ditch those thoughts and start now. You will learn as you move, as you experiment, as you grow.
There’s this popular advice for writers that goes: Write what you know. In his book, Kleon says you need to “write what you like” instead. And asks this really interesting question to whoever is trying to create something: Think about your favourite work and your favourite heroes. If all your favourite makers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?
“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
3. Obscurity Is Good
He goes on to discuss how young people or people who are just getting started in a certain business want to get discovered and become famous for what they do.
And directs your attention that while it is a good thing to be recognized and known in your niche, it is an advantage not to be so, especially in the beginning.
Because now you have the space to get better, to try and fail and experiment, without the pressure you would get if thousands of people were to view your content, or you got money at stake, or a public image you try to maintain, or critics waiting for your material/product to start pointing out the negatives.
You are free from all of it, and you will never have that freedom again once you have the attention. So, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
He then gives you the real, not-so-secret formula to becoming known: Do good work and share it with people.
You can either do so through the community around you, or simply share things online. The Internet has made it incredibly easy for anyone to share their content and ideas (hence: this blog), so it encourages you to find the group of people that share your same interests and with whom you can share your work.
“You don’t have to live anywhere other than the place you are to start connecting with the world you want to be in. If you feel stuck somewhere, if you’re too young or too old or too broke, or if you’re somehow tied down to a place, take heart. There’s a community of people out there you can connect with.”
4. Go Make Something
To be able to create something meaningful, you first need to surround yourself with people who create meaningful things, people who are successful and talented in what they do. Go find the most talented person and stand next to them; pay attention to what they do.
“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”
One thing he points out is when along the way some people would see things that they think are just wrong, faulty or stupid. Or things that they feel the need to complain about or correct. And advices that instead of getting angry about what’s being done wrong or complaining about it, we ought to channel that feeling into creating something right instead.
“Complain about the way other people make software by making software.”
5. Validation Is For Parking
“The trouble with creative work: Sometimes by the time people catch on to what’s valuable about what you do, you’re either a) bored to death with it, or b) dead.”
When going about creating something, be it a book, a blog, a business, don’t try to look for validation from other people. Because not necessarily everyone will get what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.
Do the work you enjoy doing, share it, and let go of it.
Don’t stress over what people will think of it or how they will perceive it, because you do not have control over people’s reactions. The only thing you have control over is your process and the work you do.
Some of the reviews this book has received
“Immersing yourself in Steal Like An Artist is as fine an investment in the life of your mind as you can hope to make.” —The Atlantic
“Filled with well-formed advice that applies to nearly any kind of work.” —Lifehacker.com
“Equal parts manifesto and how-to, Steal Like An Artist aims to introduce readers to the idea that all creative work is iterative, no idea is original and all creators and their output are a sum of inspirations and heroes…” —Forbes
“Engaging, inspiring and practical advice on becoming a successful artist, advice that applies well beyond artistic pursuits… This is a quick, easily digestible read that is particularly relevant in today’s digital world.” —School Library Journal
I have read this book 3 times so far. It is such an easy read. The writing style is simple and to the point. It gives you a different overview on creativity as a whole; a real, authentic advice for anyone with a passion.
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