Creative Constipation

Creative space

My doctor wrote the diagnosis on the wall—FOS. I thought it was a word instead of an acronym. He interrupted. "You are full of shit."

He then reviewed my X-ray to show me just how bad it was. Apparently, a fraternity diet (filled with 2nd and 3rd helpings per dinner) combined with a massively stressful academic workload wasn't a winning combination.

Interruptions and Learned Helplessness

Imagine an alarm clock that goes off at short, random intervals. Despite all efforts to guess when the next loud noise is coming, it could be anywhere from 5 seconds to 5 minutes.

Imagine trying to work on something complicated that requires deep focus. Think of something at the level of chess or sudoku, where you might have to store lots of different options in your brain all at the same time while not losing your place.

Mental Mentors

What would Jesus do? This catchphrase blew up in popularity during my high school years. It wasn't uncommon to see the WWJD acronym on bracelets or tee-shirts as a reminder to ask the question. But no, this is not an article about religion. I'm using the WWJD as an example of the mental mentors strategy.

But They'll Think I'm Crazy

A hard fact of life is that people will hear what you're about to do and think that you're fucking nuts.

  • Why'd you move to another state?
  • Why'd you quit your secure job to start your business?
  • Why did you go to college versus get a job?
  • Why did you get a job versus go to college?
  • Why did you marry him or her?
  • Why did you break up?
  • Why did you have kids?
  • Why did you decide not to have kids?

And on and on and on.


The addict knows (logically) that they may be one dose away from death.

The gambler knows (logically) that they are one bet away from broke.

The smoker knows (logically) that they are one cigarette away from cancer.

It’s not for lack of intelligence that humans do stupid things. We know better. A person with diabetes knows that they shouldn’t be slamming down 7-Eleven Big Gulps. A person trying to get out of debt should not go out and lease a brand new car.


Leaving Boston was bittersweet. It was where I spent ten formative years in college. It was where I, a country bumpkin who was born and raised 1 mile away from 3 farms, got to immerse myself in city life. It was where Emily and I first moved in together, and it was where I proposed to her.

Losing a Habit Streak

One of the holy grails in personal development is the concept of unconscious competence. It’s the stage where something is so ingrained in you that you can achieve it automatically and without thinking. You probably already do this in several areas of your life without even knowing it. The classic example is driving a car from point A to point B. If you are an experienced driver, you can do this without remembering a single thing you did or saw along the way. Your unconscious mind took over, and you went into autopilot, succeeding without effort.

A Diamond in a Haystack

A swirl of hay.

What would be more difficult and tedious than searching for a needle in a haystack? I imagine if one actually attempted this, it could take hours or even days of painstaking focus to sift through the noise before finding a needle. But why would one spend the time and effort to find something with so little value? This is why we use the phrase to indicate a pursuit not worth pursuing.

However, what if we changed the game?