Stop Putting Imaginary Pressure on Yourself

Imaginary Pressure

My next book, The Stoic Path to Wealth, comes out on July 16. While it’s something I’m excited about, this milestone put a lot of imaginary pressure on my work routine last year.

I started thinking about the marketing strategy when I finished the manuscript with my editor in November 2023.

Here’s what my thoughts were like:

  • I need to get started with marketing
  • I need to do a podcast
  • I need to do YouTube videos
  • I need to do social media
  • I need to reach out to people

And then, I would think, “If I don’t do this, the book won’t succeed.”

This type of “I need to do X (action) otherwise Y (bad outcome) will happen” thinking is a complete and utter waste of your energy. And yet, we all do it.

Through years of meditating and practicing Stoicism, I’m now able to quickly detect that unhelpful thinking pattern and stop it. I always go back to this quote from Epictetus from How to Be Free:

“If you want to make progress, dismiss this kind of reasoning: ‘If I neglect my business, I will have nothing to live on.’ It is better to starve to death in a calm and confident state of mind than to live anxiously amidst abundance.”

The truth is: You don’t need a lot to have happiness and peace.

The pressure you put on yourself is imaginary

We all put imaginary pressure on ourselves. Maybe your pressure comes from your parents, friends, or the desire to keep up with what you see on social media.

Just remember it’s all in your mind. All the things you think you should be doing are a figment of your imagination.

It’s a mental construct.

I don’t need to do YouTube or social media. Those things might help but are not the determining factor.

The content of my book is the #1 determining factor. A shitty book with great marketing might see a short-term sales boost but it will not sell well in the long run.

The reverse is also true. A good book that’s marketed decently will do well over time. I genuinely believe in the power of good books and word of mouth.

One of the world’s most well-known sales trainers, Zig Ziglar, said it well:

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

So when it comes to book marketing, just get it in the hands of enough people, and if your book is good, your readers will do the rest.

This is true for other things in life. You only control the quality of your work. The rest is not up to you.

Stop your “this is the end of the world” thinking

What’s something you think you need to do that you assume leads to the end of the world if you don’t?

Is it answering emails from your boss? Maybe it’s saving enough money so you can buy a car or travel? Or, on a personal level, finding a partner before the age of X?

Avoid this mindset.

The world will not end. People won’t cancel you. And you’ll be alright.

If you want to stop this destructive thinking pattern, you need to cultivate a sense of awareness. The best way to do that, in my experience, is by journaling daily.

Meditating also works. But translating your thoughts into words and writing them down is the single most powerful thing. It’s really like putting a mirror in front of your thoughts.

When you journal, you don’t think about your writing the same way you write an email or something publicly. It’s honest.

So as you keep journaling, the thoughts will flow. And then, when you read your own words, you may say: “Wow, I’m really dramatic!”

If you can say that, you’ve made progress.

Now, simply stop the drama in your mind and focus on your very next step.

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