Do the Opposite #62

You Can Now Support DTO, Anti-Goals, Downstream vs Upstream Effort, Your Brain on Exercise

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“68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice” by Kevin Kelly
Kevin turns 68 and, for this occasion, he’s prepared a list of 68 pieces of advice to instruct us how make less mistakes and wisely choose where we put our time and effort. You, like me, will disagree with some of the advice, but there are absolute gems in there, like: “When you get an invitation to do something in the future, ask yourself: would you accept this if it was scheduled for tomorrow? Not too many promises will pass that immediacy filter.” or “Be prepared: When you are 90% done any large project (a house, a film, an event, an app) the rest of the myriad details will take a second 90% to complete.” And “You are what you do. Not what you say, not what you believe, not how you vote, but what you spend your time on.” For more, read the post :)

Bonus: another great piece by Kevin is an essay called “1000 True Fans”. I’ve written about it in one of the earliest DTO letters.

“The Power of Anti-Goals” by Andrew Wilkinson
We here at Do the Opposite love the counter-intuitive approaches to solving our problems. Andrew has optimized the way he spends his day by going from what he hates to do, and then creating rules that would forbid or limit these activities throughout the day. He calls these rules “anti-goals”, and they are similar to the “Not To-Do List” concept, popularized by Tim Ferriss. One example Andrew gives: “No business or obligations with people we don’t like—even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no.”

I also have made similar attempts to define a list of both things to do and not to do every day and I call them “Personal Rules”. I have had mixed success with these so far, finding that some of them I stick with but it’s difficult to keep in mind and follow all of them. This list has been evolving and changing throughout the years and I will probably share some of my thoughts on it in the upcoming DTO letters.

“This Is Your Brain on Exercise” by Kate Wheeling
Do we need another reminder that exercise is good for us? Really? Well, I definitely do. I’ve heard that motivation is like taking a bath/a shower - you need to do it frequently for best results. :) So here’s another dose! I really love how Kate isolated specific benefits our brains get and explained them, instead of giving a generic “everything is improving” response. Interesting stuff! If you struggle with motivation to exercise (and even if you don’t, some extra won’t hurt), give it a read!


“The Key to Transforming Yourself” | Robert Greene
I love the story Robert shared about his long and winding road to success as a writer. He reminds us that the stories of overnight success are simply not true. We often only see the top of the iceberg, the culmination of the work others have put in to get to where they are now. We then judge our own results, thinking: “I’ve done so much already but haven’t gotten far, I must not be as good as they are.” Robert shows us that most success stories, including our own, are a sum of various experiences and long-term preparation and learning which only after a long time turns into breakthrough results. So we are on the right path and let’s keep on truckin’.

“Stop Trying so Hard. Achieve More by Doing Less” | Bethany Butzer
There’s seem to be a paradox: while some people who work much more than average burn out, others seem to thrive. Why is that? I’ve often wondered that. Bethany answers that question by introducing two types of effort: upstream and downstream effort. Upstream effort is one the feels forced, when we are actively pushing ourselves to do something we don’t really want to do to win the approval of others, an award, a promotion or some other external achievement. This is the type of effort that can be described as soul-crushing. The other type is downstream. It’s when we finally stop caring about the external and listen to ourselves. What is our calling? This doesn’t mean that downstream path is about relaxing and doing nothing. It’s still effort and can be hard work. The trick is, when we work on the things we truly care about, we don’t even notice how hard the going is, and often even enjoy surmounting the obstacles life throws at us.

“Fighting Resistance And Mental Toughness For Writers With Steven Pressfield” | The Creative Penn
I don’t have to tell you I am a big fan of Steven Pressfield’s work, if you’ve been reading DTO for a while, you already know that. I think I’ve read “The War of Art” 6 or 7 times, and each time it hits deeper. Any of us who ever tried to bring a creative project (a blog, a business, a movie, a painting, etc.) have felt the force that Steven dubbed Resistance: a force trying to distract you from doing your work, to find any way possible to sabotage the effort.

I battle with Resistance every day and, over the years, with Steven’s help, I’ve gotten better at it. I am very happy I’ve found this interview (Steven doesn’t do many interviews) do where he shares a bit more of his hard-earned wisdom with us.

And, of course, if you haven’t yet read “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro”, I can’t recommend these books enough! They’re so good you’ll want to buy some copies to share with friends and family :)

Bonus: if you liked that interview, here’s another they did 4 years later :)

Tweet of the Week



“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
― John le Carré

“Your comfort zone may be more like a cage you can’t escape from than a safe place you can retreat to.”
― Chris Guillebeau, “The Happiness of Pursuit”

“You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”
― Erica Jong

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
― Dale Carnegie

🎶 Written to the Soundtrack Of

Daft Punk, “TRON: Legacy Reconfigured” album


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Keep doing the opposite,
Alex Kallaway