Three years ago, if you told me I’d be a writer with a 200,000-person audience in 2024, I’d have laughed you out of the room.
“No chance”, I’d have thought, flipping back open the first book I read on copywriting — Sugarman’s Adweek Copywriting Handbook — as I searched for secrets on how to suck less at communicating.
But here I am, and here you are.
So let me tell you an important lesson about chasing, and getting, what you want.
Don’t compare pictures. Compare movies.
Recently, I’ve been obsessing over what’s next for my brand.
The first few years of writing have been amazing, but I’m constantly thinking about the next mountain. Should I write a book? Start a podcast? Evolve my niche?
If you’ve experienced uncertainty with your direction, you’ll understand how uncomfortable it feels. Instead of doing the work and enjoying the journey, you often waste days or weeks worrying about a problem only you seem to notice.
In my search for answers, I found myself studying Ryan Holiday.
I love his writing and business acumen. But the more I researched him, the more hopeless I became. He’s pumping out best-selling books as the king of Stoicism, yet here I am sitting on 𝕏 with my thumb up my arse writing tweets.
“How the hell will I ever be able to do what he does?” I thought to myself. We’re worlds apart, and that gap is only stretching wider. This was depressing. So like any self-respecting man, I buried my problems instead of facing them and continued working.
But recently, a friend sent me one of Ryan’s recent blog posts on habits:
I don’t usually read about habits, but I always read good writing. And I’m glad I did because I found this buried in the post:
“I started blogging in 2005. My first book came out in 2012. The Obstacle is the Way came out in 2014…and took six years for it to hit any bestseller list. I didn’t hit the New York Times Bestseller list until 2019, on my 13th book.”
Can you see what’s important, my friend?
Ryan blogged for seven years before his first book. It took another eight years to hit the best-seller list. Yet here I was, three years into my writing career, beating myself up and belittling my accomplishments.
I was comparing snapshots of our lives without considering the journey. This is a guaranteed way to be miserable. It will steal the joy of progress from your fitness, relationships, wealth, and whatever else is worth pursuing.
There will always be someone richer than you. Someone sexier. Someone smarter. Someone better. And I wish I could tell you that you should just stop comparing and get on with your life. But it doesn’t work like that. You and I are just monkeys with mobile phones, and we will play this game until the day we die.
So do me a favour.
The next time you find yourself comparing pictures, look for the movie.
This way, at least you can decide if it’s a journey worth pursuing. If not, you’ve saved yourself from years of climbing the wrong mountain. If so, you’ve found a blueprint to follow. Maybe one day you’ll find people admiring your success.
Hope this helps,
Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business