How to live with intention, Paul Graham’s advice on overcoming fear, and lessons in strategy consulting

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Share what you’ve learned

I turned 34 yesterday (if you’re in the UK, I appreciate all the fireworks. I’m sure they’re meant to celebrate my birthday and not anything else).

This time two years ago, I got fired from my job with zero job prospects, virtually no savings, and a suffocating amount in student loan debt I no longer qualified to get forgiven.

It was a great time…

But the last two years have legitimately been some of the best in my life, and I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

If you’re curious about how to live with more intention and make the most of the time you have left, check out my latest article:

34 Lessons on How to Live with Intention

​Insight 2: Embrace early work

Switching from consumer to creator is hard for a lot of reasons.

But one of the biggest is when you’re a consumer, you only ever see the “finished version” of what others create:

  • The launched product
  • The published book
  • The finished website

But when you become a creator, you compare your “shitty first draft” with everyone else’s final polished work.

It’s daunting to think you’ll ever make anything that great.

“One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame. And this fear is not an irrational one. Many great projects go through a stage early on where they don’t seem very impressive, even to their creators. You have to push through this stage to reach the great work that lies beyond. But many people don’t. Most people don’t even reach the stage of making something they’re embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They’re too frightened even to start.” — Paul Graham

But if you compared a newly hatched eaglet to an adult eagle, you’d never believe the eaglet had so much potential.

Thankfully, Paul Graham has some solid advice to help you nurture your embryonic idea into a majestic af reality.


  • Develop a slight overconfidence in the importance of your work and your abilities to buffer against skepticism.
  • Balance optimism and encouragement with reality and constructive feedback.
  • Reframe your expectations and lower your standards.
  • Treat everything as a data point.
  • Focus on rate of change.
  • Embrace curiosity.

“It’s a bit strange that you have to play mind games with yourself to avoid being discouraged by lame-looking early efforts. The thing you’re trying to trick yourself into believing is in fact the truth. A lame-looking early version of an ambitious project truly is more valuable than it seems. So the ultimate solution may be to teach yourself that.” — Paul Graham

Check out the full article here, it’s well worth the read.

​Insight 3: You can walk away

Why would anyone leave a $200k job?

In a recent video for Strategy U, entrepreneur Paul Millerd talks through why he decided to leave a lucrative job working for a big name consulting firm.

His three biggest reasons for leaving:

  • No longer feeling the need to prove himself to people.
  • Creativity and learning in the workplace faded.
  • Craving more out of life.

These will resonate with anyone whose ever questioned their path or realized the person they were when they got their fancy job isn’t the person they are now.

I experienced these same things when I did therapy. I was great at my job, made a high salary for my industry (I’m also pretty sure I was the 3rd highest-paid psychologist at my company, next to my two bosses who were directors), loved by patients, and respected by my colleagues.

But I was burnt the fuck out despite how successful I was on paper.

A high salary will keep you handcuffed to a miserable job.

It’s a Herculean task to pull away from a guaranteed paycheck to venture out on your own.

But the flexibility and autonomy over your time and creativity is worth any temporary decrease in income.

Check out Paul’s video (and the Strategy U YouTube channel) if you want inspiration on venturing into the land of strategy consulting:

​Question for the Week

Where in your life are you allowing yourself to be intimidated?

  • Avoiding the gym because you’re not in shape “enough.”
  • Pursuing that idea because of what “other people” might say.
  • Standing up for yourself because you’re afraid of confrontation.

Most of the time, intimidation lives in our imagination, not reality.

Something to think about…

​Coaching Corner

This week’s question comes from Madeline:

“If you’re a person in their fifties who was unable to launch themselves into a specific career after years of trying through no fault of their own, how does that person go about figuring out where to begin and what to do about deciding what to do for work/career?”

Without knowing the specifics of the industry/career you’re talking about, here are a few thoughts…

First, a caveat: I don’t do career coaching, so take all this with a grain of salt.

What about that specific career resonated with you?

Was it:

  • The creativity of the work?
  • The people you could help?
  • The security or salary that came with it?
  • The freedom to work from home or travel?
  • The prestige associated with a title or company?

Dig into the specific reasons you wanted to take that path.

Then see what other routes you could take that would allow you to get those same benefits.

Tons of jobs offer similar benefits once you clarify exactly what you’re looking for.

There’s also always the option of doing your own thing by starting a business, freelancing, or partnering with others.

For example, I loved doing therapy, but burnt out being a therapist.

I loved:

  • Helping people by creating psychological safety and guiding them to their own truth
  • Not being micromanaged (within a therapy session, I had a good bit of freedom)
  • The intellectual stimulation of helping people overcome new challenges every session

But, I didn’t like dealing with insurance, having incompetent bosses, or all the red tape of the therapy world.

Coaching ticked off all the boxes of what I loved about therapy, without all the baggage.

Whatever the job you originally wanted was, you can find other opportunities that are equally, if not more, fulfilling.

You just have to dig into what you’re looking for and explore how to get it.

Hope that helps.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person you think would find it valuable.

And if someone forwarded this to you, check out past issues and subscribe here:

Until next time—memento mori,


Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube