The Straight-Talking Life Truths Worth Remembering When You Feel Lost

Tim Denning

And have no idea what to do next. There is power in doing only one thing, according to Derek Sivers.
Photo by Dan Russo on Unsplash

It’s easy to feel lost. The feeling is universal and natural.

When you feel a little lost and have no idea what to do next, remember these life truths. (All truths courtesy of Derek Sivers’ thoughts on How to Live.)

Stay unlabelled

Labels mess up the world. They place people in tiny boxes they can’t climb out of. They think to themselves “it’s just not me.” Labels are paradoxical by nature. Business owners are entrepreneurs. Yet we all wake up each day needing to make money. So even if you work a 9–5 job, we’re all entrepreneurs with one customer.

Making money online is another label that scares people. Those who refuse to be creative don’t make money online. Paradoxically, we all make money online. Is your work computer connected to the internet? Congrats! You’re a work from home digital nomad.

Labels limit your potential. Labels are handcuffs placed on you by other people. Discard labels to set yourself free.

Doing nothing is the ultimate minimalism

I’m not here yet, either. I still keep thinking I have to show up somewhere, someday, to become a somebody.

We often think the unemployed or the homeless are unhappy. Maybe they know something many of us don’t. Maybe they found the beauty in doing nothing and wanting nothing. Maybe those of us who are employed or have homes are the real unhappy ones. Ponder that.

The only opinion that matters is your own

When you know what you’re doing, you won’t care what anyone else is doing.

That’s how I feel. A social media comment looks like blah, blah, blah. Lots of opinions, not so much action. Doers transcend opinions. There isn’t a statue anywhere built for a critic. Because critics are commentators who could-have-been, should-have-been, doers.

Everything is your fault

Outsourcing blame to your job, boss, the government, The Federal Reserve, or bitcoin is far too easy. Derek says, “Decide everything is your fault.” That’s how you gain enormous control over your life.

Forget the best option

Pick one [option] & irreversibly commit. Then it becomes the best option for you.

Options quickly lead to overthinking. There isn’t a right choice. Deciding cuts off the other options and makes what you decide bend reality and become a decision you later look back on as helpful. A decision doesn’t become helpful. You turn a decision into the right choice, therefore, allowing yourself to see the good in your choice.

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

I say this about writing all the time. I’m a terrible writer. It’s seven years of working at it every day that has made the difference.

Most people don’t stick to a goal for long enough to inherit the embedded rewards. Stay for 5 years. Watch your entire life change. A goal that matters is one you do every day.

Learn to sell and you can go anywhere

Sales isn’t sleazy. Selling isn’t evil. Charging money isn’t selling out. You were born a salesperson. Life is a sales pitch.

You sell yourself through school. You sell yourself into your first job. You sell yourself to a romantic partner. You sell yourself to the real estate agent to find a home. You sell yourself into marriage. You sell yourself on the idea of having a baby. And my 104-year-old grandma sold herself on gracefully passing away of old age — by refusing to eat anymore.

Peace is when you’re not thinking you should be doing anything

I struggle to relax. While watching Seinfeld I feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be doing something more productive? You can’t relax your mind when you always have to be doing something.

Productivity guilt stops your mind from joining the dots and giving you those awesome ideas that make you go oh my god, why didn’t I think of this earlier?

Deep happiness is wanting nothing

Hahahaha…I’m not there yet. I still want to own a home at some point. No more landlord wanting to bust their way through the door to inspect what doesn’t require inspecting. No fake maintenance calls to check up on you. I want a home with no spare keys for anybody. And those material dreams prevent part of my happiness.

Wanting nothing is a fine art that requires practice.

Reject the false stories people tell

No need to go all Law-of-Attraction on you. False stories people tell you are just their limiting beliefs. Doesn’t make them true. You can turn any opinion into the truth. All you have to do is google some sources and link to them. Now you’re saying the truth. Are you with me?

Every behavior comes with future consequences

A behavior might seem small. You get a credit card this one time or throw $10 at the roulette wheel in the casino for fun. Before you know it you’re using your credit card for everything, and calling the casino a “place to relax and have fun.”

Don’t underestimate what tiny shifts can lead to. An ice cream could lead to a junk food diet and 400 pounds. Addiction starts small, often labeled as fun or I need this because of

People who do work in flow states are the happiest

Derek's research into people who are the happiest led him to understand that time in flow doing fascinating work is where true happiness is found. I’ve found the same. When I sit down and consciously channel a flow state I do the best deep work of my life. That work is what I look back on and am proud of.

Deep work is how you contribute your best ideas to society.

There is power in doing only one thing

Concentrating all of your life’s forces on one thing gives you incredible power.

High-achievers are good at one thing. They channel energy into one area of their life so they have the best chance of momentum. Diluted energy isn’t as powerful as concentrated energy. It’s why tennis players are good at hitting a yellow ball but often terrible at marriage, humility, or selflessness.

Explores used to look for land. Now explorers look for new lifestyles.

All the land on Earth has been found. That’s why the modern-day explorer doesn’t look for land anymore. They look for lifestyles. Not because they want to be a digital nomad and make everyone else feel poor, but because lifestyle exploration uncovers new ways of thinking.

Become a lifestyle explorer when you feel lost.

Do it until it kills you. Dying during an adventure means you’ll die happy.

I will write until my hands fall off (and the right hand is almost ready to be amputated). Thankfully, you can type solely with your eyes like writer Kevin Swan does. Doing a task until it kills you isn’t burnout. Doing a task until it kills you is passion for what you do. Passion in life helps you die happy.

Rules save you from deciding

If you can’t decide what to do next then make up a set of rules. When I quit my job I made a list of rules. I reference these rules a lot, especially when I need to say no. For example, the other day I sent an email that read “I have a rule that says I don’t do any podcasts in 2021.” I sent another one today that said “I don’t sell products I didn’t make.”

Nobody can argue with your rule. You’re the enforcer so they respect the law.

You don’t have to change the world. Simply change your reaction.

Twitter is full of opinions. It gets noisy … and overwhelming. Keanu Reeves has a different way of looking at how you react. “I’m at that stage in life where I stay out of discussions. Even if you say 1+1=5, you’re right — have fun.”

Luxury messes up your happiness

Luxury is the enemy of happiness because you adapt to its comforts. Luxury makes you soft, weak, and harder to satisfy.

A rubber hot water bottle ruined my life.

I got so use to having a hot water bottle while I write that now I can’t write in the cold anymore. Warmth is a luxury. When it’s cold and there is no heating, all you can do is move on with life and let your flow state block out the cold sensation. Wanting less conveniences is a superpower.

Conveniences make you picky. Imagine you could simply wake up in the woods and be like “air, berries, sun … what a great freaking day.” Luxury is for selfish billionaires.

Money to buy stuff is the least powerful use

Instead, money enables:

  • Freedom
  • Safety
  • Experiences
  • Generosity
  • Power that can be used for good

Money isn’t evil. It simply depends what you use it for. Money used to help those other than you is life-changing. You simply have to forget the programming from years of social media marketing telling you to buy a Lambo.

“Rich” = Usefulness

Your desperation leads to creative solutions

It’s one reason I quit my job. I wanted the desperation to pay rent without a safe paycheck to drive my progress in life. Otherwise, I’m prone to a Netflix induced-coma at a friend’s house. Your fight to survive is how you take the bare essentials and make them look like abundance. Desperation eliminates overconfidence and forces you to become a doer.

The clock is your best ally

“It will guard you, keep your impulses in check, and protect what’s important to you,” says Derek. We need death to have motivation.

Two Odd Truths for Americans (from Derek)

From America, learn expressive rebellious individualism.
Leave before thinking you’re the center of the world.

Secondly, have a child with a person from a country you weren’t born in. The more variety of races, the better it is for the world. It takes us further away from seeing races, to one race: human.


The best kind of truths are paradoxes because there are no absolutes. We’re all just figuring it out and making stuff up as we go along. A few life truths help to interrupt your thought patterns. Thoughts are habits too. Thoughts can work against you during your darkest hour.

The escape hatch in life is other people’s truths as they help you reflect. The truth is, struggles are shared. But so are the advantages.

Comments / 0

Published by

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship


More from Tim Denning

Comments / 0