You Want to Give Up Now - But What If You Don't?

11:29 on a Wednesday. PM, of course. You don’t feel like writing. You really, really don’t. But if you don’t prep another draft, you might fall behind on your experiment. You might not publish every weekday. So what can you do?

I mean, no one’s forcing you to write. You don’t need to. Especially not right now. The world will keep spinning either way. Who cares if you don’t? 

Haven’t you earned the right to quit? Inbox zero, the call where you planned a new project, the newsletter you sent out — you did all of those today. Can’t that be enough? Of course, it could. It probably is. Yet here you are, staring at the blinking cursor.

You’re tired, but you also can’t close the laptop. You’re done but not through. You’re thinking about what to produce and if you could produce something, would it even be any good? Questions over questions, but you can’t come to a full stop. You have to let them linger.

On the outside, you must look terrible right now. Desperate, exhausted, ridiculous. Who sits in their bed on a Wednesday night, with short pyjamas and bags under their eyes, feet barely tucked under the covers, laptop on lap, typing against the clock on an orange-lit screen? Seriously, who does that?

11:46. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. A smile flashes on your face. Then, an immediate yawn. Maybe, you’ve got it. Maybe, this is it. 

In any case, the indicators all point to one thing: Now would be a great time to give up. Now would be a great time to close the laptop, go to bed, and get some rest. Still, no matter how many times that thought crosses your mind, the only response you can come up with is a question, and that question won’t let you sleep just yet: But what if you don’t?

What if you sit here, just a little longer? What if you wait and see if words magically fall onto the page? What if you edit that draft tomorrow and hit publish? What if, what if, what if.

Of course, there is no alternate timeline you can track yourself against. No lifetime tree diagram of your decisions, each fork labelled “gave up” or “didn’t give up.” But deep down, you can’t shake the feeling. The conviction, really: A version of yourself that gave up each time would be in a much worse place than where you are now. Tired. Typing. 12:05 AM.

No one will notice if you stop now. Your parents won’t lecture you. Your boss won’t berate you. Your readers won’t notice. But you’ll always know.

Sure, the world will keep spinning either way. It always will and it always has. It was spinning before you were born and it will be spinning after you die. That makes it such a great, universal excuse — and therefore kind of none at all. You didn’t have to write the first time you wrote either. You never did. You chose to. You chose to despite the world spinning, not because of it.

Just like right now, you’re sitting there despite your condition. You’re not even sure who you’re spiting — the world, yourself, your first-grade teacher — but you know your spite has added up to more good than bad. What more do you need?

Maybe you have earned the right to quit. To rest. But you’ve also earned a chance to go on. To do one more thing. You have afforded yourself both, but only compassion can accept either at the same time. Find that compassion, and you’ll sleep like a baby, no matter which one you choose. Today, you chose to take the chance. Scoreboard +1. 12:19 AM.

It’s a great mystery all this. How doeth the +1's add up? Definitely not like that first-grade teacher explained. One plus one plus one plus one and, suddenly, you’re at 54. That’s why the questions linger. That’s why the good what-ifs outweigh the bad.

You don’t care how you look. You don’t care who thinks you’re desperate. You don’t know who does what you do, just that there were many before you — and they all had to write one more time.

12:29. Now would be a great time to give up. But what if you don’t?

-Nik

PS: If you liked this, can you give it 50 claps on Medium? You can do that free of charge here. Thanks! 👏

Tomorrow Can Be a Good Day

If I could only leave one message...

The last note on Avicii’s phone reads: “Spread positivity through my music and message.”

Robin Williams once remarked that, “Comedy is acting out optimism.”

In his last speech to fans at a concert, Chester Bennington said: “The one thing that can’t be defeated is love.”

I’m a writer. Every day, I structure my thoughts and emotions. Each session is therapy. The articles are just the reports. I take the result of my self-treatment, package it how I think will be most helpful, and release it to the world.

I wish everyone could do this. I wish it’d work for anybody. Sadly, that’s not the case. For Robin, Chester, and Tim, one day, the therapy stopped working.

Even before I started typing, I’ve always held this one belief. I’ve known it for as long as I can remember, and I don’t have any other lens to view life through. It’s as simple as it is powerful, and I can describe it in one sentence:

Tomorrow can be a good day.

If I had to erase everything I’ve ever written, if I had to go through my archive, pick one idea, and decide that’s the only one I’ll leave behind, this would be it.

Tomorrow can be a good day.

I can’t tell you how desperately I want you to believe this. I wish I could hold your hands when you feel at your worst, look you in the eye, and say it:

“Tomorrow can be a good day.”

When I was six, I fell off my bike and tore my chin. We had to wait at the ER for hours. A guy was wheeled in on a stretcher. Motorcycle accident. I don’t know if he made it. But as I was licking on my ice cream, I wholeheartedly believed that — both for him and I — tomorrow could be a good day.

When I was 13, a girl broke my heart. Then again at 14. And 15. And 16. It happened again and again and again. Sometimes, I thought I’d die alone. That I’d never find a girlfriend. I cried over it. But I always believed that, no matter how sad the music I was playing, tomorrow could be a good day.

When I was 26, I lost faith in myself. I wasn’t sure if I could go on working so much. If I could complete both my degree and get my business off the ground. I was burned out, desperate, and didn’t see the point of it all. But I still believed that, even if it all went to hell, tomorrow could be a good day.

I know these are laughable stories. They’re nothing against rape, war, drug addiction, abuse, and depression. I don’t know what those feel like. I can only imagine, and I know imagination doesn’t quite cut it. But I think daring to imagine without having lived through it is exactly where my strength is.

If being free of life’s heaviest burdens allows me to spread positivity, act out optimism, and remind you that love can’t be defeated, then that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. The only thing I will do. The reason I was put on this earth.

Tomorrow can be a good day.

Writing it makes me tear up a little. I believe in it so much. I can’t tell you how it works. I can’t tell you where I got it from. I just know that, as long as you want me to, I will be here. Repeating it for you. Again and again and again.

When your boyfriend breaks up with you, I’ll tell you that tomorrow can be a good day. When your doctor says you need surgery, I’ll tell you that tomorrow can be a good day. When your boss fires you, your landlord kicks you out, and your dad won’t lend you 50 bucks, I’ll tell you: Tomorrow can be a good day.

Please keep going. Just a little. One more day. One more night. One more time. Sunshine is coming. No matter how dark it feels right now, the light is not far away. It might be right around the corner. Keep walking. Talking. Take one step at a time. One step is enough for today. And tomorrow?

Tomorrow can be a good day.

-Nik

PS: If you liked this, mind giving it 50 claps on Medium? You can do so here. Thanks!

I'm Turning 29 - The 5 Biggest Mistakes From My 20s

Lessons from the past decade

This Sunday, I’ll be 29 years old. It’s common and - for writers - almost obligatory to reflect on the past year and draw some conclusions.

This year, however, I decided to reflect on the last decade instead. I hoped to find stronger patterns from looking at a longer time frame - and I did!

That’s why today’s very simple article is called…

The 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made in My 20s

I know these lists are common, and I think two of my points about treating your passion like a pro and not chasing people for some secondary benefit might be as well.

The other three, however, I haven’t seen anywhere. Your 20s don’t have to be about sex. Your 20s won’t necessarily be your time of peak energy. And, most of all: You don’t have to change the world to be valuable.

I hope these lessons will save you a lot of time, energy, and trouble.

As always, you can read the article for free using the button below. If you benefit from it, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

Read the post

Thanks for reading - and here’s to the last year before I turn 30!

-Nik

PS: I wrote a short post for Valentine’s Day as well if you’re into that - it’s called Show People You Love Them Every Day.

How To Heal From Emotional Damage

Our unaddressed pains cause hurt in ourselves and others

When I was 20, I met a girl at a party. She was beautiful, with long, dark hair and a kind smile. We instantly connected.

After a magical night of dancing and holding hands, we chatted for a few days. Then, she wanted to spend a day and night with me. There was only one problem: I was a virgin, and I had to be up front about it.

First, she seemed to take it well. When she arrived without an overnight bag, however, I realized she was rejecting me for being inexperienced.

Neither of us knew how to handle the situation, and it just got worse from there, until, eventually, we called it quits and moved on. I did, however, learn a valuable lesson:

When we cause emotional damage in others, it’s always a reflection of our own, unaddressed pains.

Everyone has scars. No one gets through life unscathed. Often, we don’t realize that we lash out because of some old hurt we’re still carrying with us. Whether it’s other people or us who caused the damage, eventually, our wounds will flare up if we don’t heal them.

Today, I’d like to share 3 things with you that have helped me move on from emotional trauma in the past and that I’m trying to cultivate a little more in my life each day.

Learn to heal emotional damage

If you liked my previous posts on emotional maturity and emotional self-sufficiency, I think you’ll also enjoy this one.

As always, reading the post is free for you. If it helps you find and process your hidden feelings and lash out at others less, you can add up to 50 claps and share it with a friend. 👏🏻

Here’s the link again:

How To Heal From Emotional Damage

Thanks for reading, may it help you find balance.

-Nik

7 Thoughts to Calm Yourself Down in Tough Situations

I call this "restful thinking"

Last week, the revenue of my website dropped 65%. It’s a train wreck. I have server costs, marketing costs, and a full-time partner to pay. In what I’d like to think was true Bruce Lee fashion, however, I quickly regained my composure.

I didn’t drop everything and frantically attack the problem, but I took some time to gather my thoughts, and it allowed me to recollect myself fast. Then, I was able to brainstorm ideas, make some adjustments, and even create fallback plans.

After losing thousands of dollars, I went from “Holy crap, my house is on fire” to “This sucks, but I’ve got this” - all in a single day.

Calm in the midst of chaos may look like a character trait, but it is a skill. You can learn this skill, but it takes emotional labor to do so. 

The way you form an unshakeable sense of quiet is with “restful thinking.” Restful thinking means getting yourself into a calmer, more capable state first.

Instead of giving in to your emotions or spinning in mental circles, you focus on certain thoughts over others so you can then resolve the situation more quickly and efficiently. You make sure you maintain your mental health, then deal with the problem rationally.

Learn Restful Thinking

To practice this, I jump to certain thoughts in moments of crisis. Here are seven of them you can use to calm yourself down when the going gets tough.

  1. Insomnia: “I can’t sleep, but I can still recover.”

  2. Pressure: “I don’t need to think to exist.”

  3. Helplessness: “I don’t need the answer right now.”

  4. Doubt: “If this doesn’t work, what’s the next thing I can try?”

  5. Fear: “Who needs you to see this through?”

  6. Emotional pain: “This feels bad, but I don’t have to react right now.”

  7. Impostor syndrome: “I love myself.”

For a more thorough explanation of each of them, check out the post on Medium:

Restful Thinking: 7 Lines to Calm Yourself in Tough Situations

All my posts are part of the Medium Partner Program, but since you and I share a bond of balance and a love for Bruce Lee, I want you to have this one for free. With any of the links in this email, you can access it any time without running into a paywall.

I hope these thoughts will help you keep your cool even when the world around you seems to be on fire. If they do, please consider adding up to 50 claps and sharing the piece with a friend. 🙏🏼

Talk soon!

-Nik

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