Could one of the most popular personal development maxims actually harm you more than help you?

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“Alright, come on, let’s do another one,” I said.

I was met by frustrated groans.

Dr. Brad, Steve, and I sat in the hotel room at the Tampa Airport Marriott. It was late 2008 or early 2009. Dr. Brad rested in a love seat with his doctor’s coat on. Steve lounged on the couch. I was leaning against a table and eyeballing the tripod with the Flip Video perched on top.

“We said we’d do one hundred videos,” I said.

“Okay.” I smiled. “Then we only need to do five more.”

Brad pushed himself off of the love seat, positioned…


Instead of trying to ride a wave of inspiration to accomplish something great, learn from my revelatory experience.

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Jet engines rumbled the concrete floor. The stench of fuel permeated the air in slow, thick waves, resembling a mirage and adding to the dreamlike atmosphere. I slouched under an umbrella, pen in hand and scribbling on a notebook.

My throat was dry. It hurt to swallow. For the past hour, I’d told myself it was because of the Tampa Airport Marriott’s overzealous air conditioning in their rooms. They felt like perfumed surgical centers, which, in a weird way, I liked.

At that morning’s breakfast, I’d kept drinking glass after glass of water, squeezing the lemon slices’ juices into each…


I went bankrupt before I figured out the truth (but it was worth it in the end).

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I wandered through a courtyard across the street from my apartment. On my left was the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. On my right was the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center. Sometimes, when I walked nearby at night, I heard the inmates playing basketball.

I always tried to push those thoughts away. Sometimes I succeeded, but other times I didn’t. That night, I scanned the courtyard for the perfect concrete bench. …


Why learning slow is a faster way to mastery

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In a small gym in Merced, California, I watched my friend and teacher, Dr. Chris, square off with a kettlebell the size of a small watermelon. He grabbed it, easily swung it up to shoulder-height, and set it back on the rubber mat floor.

“Okay, now you go,” he said.

We were sneaking in a workout at our friend’s gym before her wedding. I was a wedding guest, my wife was a bridesmaid, and the giant dude named Dr. Chris was officiating.

I looked down at my considerably daintier kettlebell, which he had selected for my training. I’d only handled…


Regret begets more regret, but gratitude also begets more gratitude.

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Ever wish you could go back in time and slap yourself?

I do.

In between my first and second year of college, I languished at my mom’s house like a lump of Jell-O that refused to even wiggle.

Three days per week, I lifted weights at a nearby gym. Every evening, I boiled some spaghetti, dumped it on a plate without tomato sauce or cheese, retreated to my older brother’s former bedroom (because it still had a television), and watched a line-up of The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and some other…


Don’t decide until you ask this question.

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Forty of us ran counterclockwise in a giant circle on the field. My helmet squeezed against my cheekbones.

“Sprint!” the coach yelled.

The circle sped up like a carnival ride. I tried to sprint but my legs dragged, exhausted.

It was late summer and I was about to enter my sophomore year of high school. As a freshman, I’d joined the football team but, due to my athletic ability being slightly less impressive than an inflatable tube man with a malfunctioning electrical fan, I hadn’t gotten much playtime. My position was Left Out (get it? I was left out).

A…


The devious way our brains trick us into withstanding misery

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I yanked open my refrigerator door, anticipating a much-needed wave of cool air to give me relief.

It was deep in the summer of 2009 in Boulder, Colorado and I lived in a condo with no air conditioning. What it did have was a weird quirk: when I opened my patio door for a breeze, the smoke detector sometimes blared. I have no clue why. So, before I enjoyed some air from the outside, I had to stand on a chair and yank the detector’s plastic cover off, disabling it.

Today, there was no wind.

My condo was more silent than usual and when I opened the fridge, there was no whiff of coolness.

No light went on, either…


Do this and you’ll grow from your challenges.

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In the early winter of 2012, I stood in front of my condo building and stared at my parked car.

Someone had scrawled on my driver’s side window in burgundy gunk.

Vandalism? I lived in Aurora, Colorado, which has a crime problem, but the area felt safe. A neighbor was a meth addict, but the worst problem he caused was lounging outside his front door and mumbling while I walked to my mailbox.

A note was stuck between the bottom of the car window and the door. The text was typed in big, official, capital letters.

A cop had discovered my car’s expired plates.

They gave me a…


Use this when fear gives you no option.

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I stared at the phone. My torso felt like an icebox.

Maybe I could weasel my way out of this? It was a stupid idea. Nobody wanted to talk to me.

I reached for my phone and pressed on the digit buttons. The phone emitted tone after tone like a dying robot.

More than a decade ago, I’d written and self-published a semi-lousy book and wanted to get some publicity. I’d mailed the book to some potential influencers.

Then came the part that left me cold and sick with fear.

I had to follow up, ask the influencers if they’d gotten my book, and what they thought of it — but I…


When you’re stuck, the problem might not be you.

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“Hi. Golden Police. Get out.

I sat on a park bench in Golden, Colorado as the sun set, gnats barrel-rolled above the grass, and a cop yelled at kids rafting in Clear Creek, just beyond the “Creek Closed” sign.

I was reading a book called How To Write Short.

The book’s author said to jot down great examples of short writing. This wasn’t exactly writing, but what the cop yelled made my list.

As the cop lowered his voice and the teenagers dealt out their apologies, stories, and excuses like cards from a playing deck, I lowered my gaze back…

Nate Rifkin

Was bankrupt. Now financially free. Was depressed. Now happy and fulfilled. Was figuring out how to change his life. Now writing how he did it.

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