Surrendered Goal Setting

“The mechanism of surrender is a tool only. You can use it to remove the obstacles to making a million dollars, or you can use it to remove the obstacles to the development of spiritual awareness.”
 Dr David Hawkins, Letting Go, Page 315


I’ve started the goal setting practice outlined in Letting Go.

By no means is it a book “on success”. Rather, it’s a book on how to deal with your emotions. That’s why the chapter about the negative effects of desire seemed a strange place to include a goal setting practice.

Although we are constantly told that wanting something bad enough is the key to its attainment, remember that most people who dispense advice are successful first, probably due to uncounscious processes, and they then backwards-rationalise why they are successful.

So… just because something is said a lot, doesn’t make it true.

For me, simply “wanting something bad enough” hasn’t worked.

The Letting Go process of goal setting is a little different, and very counterintuitive:

  1. Write down the thing you want in extreme detail.
  2. Every time you think of it, let go of the desire to have it.
  3. Keep reminding yourself of it and hold it in mind.


The theory: 

  • Holding something in mind makes it more likely to come about.
  • Desire blocks its attainment.


The thing you want is already yours for the asking. There’s no such thing as “worthiness”, therefore you are already as worthy as anyone will ever be of anything you can dream of.

The energy of desire tells you otherwise. It tells you it’s not already yours, that in this moment (and the next, and the next, and for as long as you don’t surrender it) the object of your desire is beyond your reach.

Think of the business man who desperately needs a negotiation to go his way. Now think of his opponent who could take it or leave it. Who is more likely to get it?

Think of two young men who both want the same woman. One is desperate for her affection. The other has chosen her and calmly loves her, giving affection without demanding it in return. Which is more likely to win her over (all else being equal)?

It’s not to say it’s bad to want things. If you wanted nothing, then nothing would be on your goal list, after all.

No, it’s the energy of desire that weakens us. It’s the energy of cravingness, neediness, and desperation.


The goals you write down to let go are not things you must want more.

They are things you have chosen.

And if you have chosen them, the only thing left to do is to remove all emotional blockages and resistance to their attainment.


3 Daily Bricks

(Clipped, 1:01:32 to 1:02:25)

I used to think the key to my success was getting everything right.

I wanted to biohack my body to maximise its potential. I wanted to master memory techniques until I had a database brain. I wanted to sleep polyphasically and have 20+ hours of wakeful time per day.

This was a long time ago. I was young, and very excited by the knowledge that all this and more was at least possible.

What I didn’t consider was that only the basics are necessary.

You can be pretty loose with the rest.

The 3 brick practice is the most basic of all. It’s foundational.

Write a list of 3 bricks every evening, and then lay those bricks the following day.

That won’t give you everything you want, but it can give you pretty much anything you want if you have the stomach to pick one thing.

PS – Above, Andy meant episode 107, not 117 for Win The Day. Find it here.

Dvorak: 2 Weeks Later

2 weeks ago I wrote a post about Dvorak, the keyboard layout that claims to be faster and easier on the wrists than Qwerty.

While the speed benefits are disputed, the comfort improvements are widely acknowledged [ref]. People use this layout to cure carpal tunnel syndrome.

Personally, I find it more comfortable even though I’m still a novice. Since I type for a living and likely spend a lot of my life on keyboards no matter what, it makes a lot of sense to learn the one that

Getting Up To Speed

My Qwerty speed was 80 words per minute (wpm) before the switch, 85 on a good day.

Today I clocked my Dvorak speed at 40 wpm using the same tester.

That’s 2 weeks to reach 50% of my Qwerty speed. Not bad.

To practice, I found a delightful web-app called Typing Club. The smooth UI and the click-clacking sound of an old typewriter make it genuinely fun.

The typing display shows a Qwerty layout by default, but you can turn it off by clicking the settings button in the top right corner 2017-01-28 at 23.40.58.png

…and choosing from the drop-down menu under “Layout”.

2017-01-28 at 23.34.32.png


I’m not an RSI sufferer, but I have felt a stiffness and very slight pain in my wrists and fingers before. Hopefully, this switch will save me from ever developing a serious, career-threatening injury!

And if I can learn to break the 100 wpm barrier with Dvorak, so much the better! I’d give it two, maybe three months for that. We’ll see!


Happiness & Success is On the Other Side of Sadness & Failure

That’s why it’s so hard.

That’s why, despite being told the “secrets” to success a million times, we still can’t break through.

Ignorance is not holding us back. We don’t need any more information. We need to be let loose, and how to do that is different for everyone. It depends on where you are in your journey, what things you’ve repressed from childhood, and countless other factors.

Your potential would be monumental if you were let loose completely.

You can’t push the pendulum towards happiness and success. What you pursue eludes you But you can push it towards pain and failure, and allow it to swing the other way.

This happens with the little things in life too. To have the pleasure of eating a sandwich, you need to go through the effort of making it first.

We have many things in modern life that someone else toiled over, like a shop sandwich. In that case, the effort (or “pain”) has been displaced to an earlier time – when you earned the money.

The pain is separated from the pleasure, and the emotional centres of our brains can’t put the two events together. Therefore, you need to develop a pleasure within the pain itself. Like Darren Hardy, you must re-frame the failure into a game, a point of pride, and a reason to celebrate.

That’s the kind of work culture the world needs.

And besides work, I believe a big part of most people’s general sense of sadness in life comes from avoiding it.

In the clip below, Louis C.K. describes a beautiful moment of healing repressed pain that he had been holding on to since he was a teenager.


Because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away… You never feel completely sad or completely happy.

I like the way he explains it. With no context to make sense of such an experience, he says the joyful ending was due to happiness “antibodies” to meet the sadness. In other words, the brain protects itself against sad by flooding itself with happy.

But that’s not quite true. If it were, all sadness would be punctuated by joy.

It was the acceptance of the sadness that did it. He surrendered to it, held it with a sense of gratitude.

I see a stark similarity between Louis’ story and Darren Hardy’s reframe of failure, don’t you? Total acceptance of what is.

No complaining, no wishing it were any different. Only the faith that you can:

  • Handle any amount of failure if you truly embrace it and reframe it as badass.
  • Handle any amount of sadness if you truly embrace it and reframe it in gratitude.



De-Optimize Yourself (Be Strategic About Your Productivity)

“Don’t be fooled. It’s not the optimization that matters.”
Chris from Hobo CEO

It’s whether it matters that matters.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
– Peter Drucker

Duh, right?

Maybe it seems obvious, but I forget this every day, because the unimportant is shiny and loud.

“Don’t confuse efficient with effective… Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.”
– Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week

Despite the difficulty in focusing on the truly important, the spoils of mastering this one thing are enormous.

To be merely efficient, optimise everything.

To be effective, waste time.

Waste time just figuring out what you should really be doing.

Make Tedious Tasks Easy to Bear

Say you’re a student and have a boring 10-page essay to write.

I know it’s boring, and you’ve still got a lot to do, but can you bear the boredom right now?

You’re not currently on the floor, dribbling softly in the fetal position, are you? You are strong enough to handle the sensations of the task in this very moment.

Then aren’t you able to bear it indefinitely?

“Oh but it’s not just this moment, I’ve got 10 more pages to write!”

Are you writing them in this moment?

No. Those pages, and the idea of writing them, are a simulation in your mind. The simulation is what hurts, not the writing of the pages.

The simulation adds extra suffering to the work at hand. Why are you feeling the pain of writing those pages now, before they are written?

Focus on the page you are on now – no, on the word you are on now. If that’s bearable, then the whole essay will be bearable.

“But those pages still need to be written!”

Let them wait their turn.

“But if I only focus on what I’m currently doing the whole time, then I’ll never know what it feels like to have 10 pages to do.”


You’ll have little moments, of course, of coming up for air. You’ll check how much you have left, and you’ll dive back in, secure in the knowledge that if you can handle writing the next word, you can handle writing the next 5,000. Each one will wait its turn.


That’s the good thing about moments. They never gang up on you. They line up in single file and patiently wait their turn. 

If you can handle one, you can handle them all. 


Success Questions: What Would You Do if You Couldn’t Make Progress?

Of just two skills Tim Ferriss claims are necessary for success, one of those is asking great questions.

The quote from Peter Thiel that Tim mentions above is laid out in more detail in Tools of Titans:

If you go back 20 or 25 years, I wish I would have known that there was no need to wait…
So if you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months? Sometimes, you have to actually go through the complex, 10-year trajectory. But it’s at least worth asking whether that’s the story you’re telling yourself, or whether that’s the reality.

A good question is often specific to your situation.

For my situation this year, a good question is the following:

“What would I do if it was guaranteed that no matter what, I would make no progress at all in the next 6 months?”

That question works for me because I am very partial to grandiose fantasies of some big success that’s always just around the corner.

As I’ve grown older, the time frame has gradually lengthened, but not nearly enough. It takes time to do meaningful things, and my childish labrador-brain refuses to accept it. The “no progress” question forces me into a brief moment of maturity. It reminds me also to spend my time on things I will be happy to do for their own sake, not just as a means to an end.

The question probably should be
“What would I do if I were guaranteed to make no progress at all this year?”

But I find that prospect just a little too terrifying to entertain…