Matt’s Notes on Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl

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Running Down a Dream: Your Road Map to Winning Creative Battles

This book just came out yesterday, and I finished it this morning. It was that short, and that good. Below is my review of the book and quite a few of my takeaways.

My review

If I ever succeed at running down my own dream of being a writer, this book will have played a fundamental role.

I have read a lot of Tim’s work before and already learned from him several of the tools he references in this book. However, understanding where the tools came from in his own story brought a whole new level of clarity to me about how to use them.

Tim’s honesty and courage to write about the dark parts of his journey should help dreamers everywhere to know they aren’t alone in their struggle.

This book is an autobiography, a hero’s journey, a book on beating resistance, and a set of new tools all rolled into one.

One quick note: there is some swearing in this book. Considering the topic and some of the failures that Tim discusses, I think it is absolutely appropriate for the content. If that bothers you, just push through it. It’s worth it.

My Takeaways

Below, I listed some of my key takeaways, but to get the full effect, you just have to go pick up the book. Get it now on Amazon (affiliate link) or check out the bundle deal with The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield (I bought the bundle, but is only available through July 20, 2018).

Now for my takeaways (key takeaways are bolded):

  • When you find you do something more than once, find a way to build a system around it, then simplify it as much as you  can
  • A system allows you to “make one decision today that removes a lot of future decisions, therefore saving that concentration and focus for something else later on”.
  • Things with less than five steps just do it the same way every time
  • Things with more than five steps, create a checklist
  • Developing systems makes it possible to outsource tasks with less training involved. Tasks can be outsourced to either an employee or software.
  • When you have a dream, it is really important to define your actual goal
  • When doing creative work, it is really important to schedule time to do it
  • Creating something is scary because criticism feels like an attack on your core identity and because creative pursuits always venture into the unknown
  • Ignore feedback from strangers or anonymous people and take feeback from people you know and trust
  • Criticism is often more about the criticizer than the criticized
  • Daily affirmations can help turn down the volume on self criticism and shame
  • Make a worry list and promise yourself that you will take care of those things. It can help free you up to focus on the things you care about
  • Magic wand – outline the best case scenario if you could wave a magic wand for everything to go right, then figure out how to get as close as possible
  • Make failure painful – set a deadline and if you don’t meet it, have a friend send a check to someone you would never want to give money to
  • You are supposed to suck – everyone starts as a beginner and has to put in their time to become an expert
  • Every successful person is probably lying to you. They all have massive failures behind the façade of success. There is no way around failure.
  • Treat every new thing like an experiment. When it fails, analyze the failure to tweak the experiment to be less likely to fail the next time.
  • Find a mentor and do exactly what they say without questioning or criticizing, but make sure the mentor is an expert in the things that you are asking about
  • There were quite a few more tools listed in the book including getting a therapist. Personally, I think some of the best money I have ever spent was on life coaching. Life is full of trouble you are not equipped to unpack by yourself, and getting help from experts can not only help you through it, but will create space for you to do so.

If you want more detail on the takeaways I listed, just go buy the book already! It’s a short read, but packed with widsom. I hope it is as helpful to you as it was to me.

Related Posts

Matt’s Notes on – Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Matt’s Notes on Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done – by Jon Acuff

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