One Big Thing

A look at Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Right off the bat, I love the writing style with which the author presents this information. And regarding that information, adhering to the materials will have a profound impact on my life.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

Greg McKeown, Essentialism

How many days have I woken up with a general idea of what I would like to accomplish? How many times did I go into a weekday or weekend with an exhaustive to-do list? Since I build in planning time into my schedule for these two endeavors, daily and weekend, I say nearly all the time. But, and this is a really big but, how often do those items get crossed off the list? Unfortunately, not as often as I would like.

Too often things come up. I have a bad night’s sleep, I get lost in social media or unproductive reading, or I fail to say no to something that is not on the list. Tasks get pushed down the list, pushed off until tomorrow, or rescheduled into the next weekend. In essence, I procrastinate. I lose my sense of urgency and fail to accomplish the mission.

Because I am a fox and not a hedgehog, I never accomplish the one big thing. Sadly, I am a non-essentialist. I overachieve in the unimportant and grossly underachieve in the things that matter most.

Since reading Good to Great by Jim Collins and now The Essentialist, I have started asking myself these two questions every morning:

  • What activity is essential?
  • What is the one thing that I must work on that will get me closer to what matters most to me?

For any activity that falls outside of that activity, I must ask myself whether it is a part of my plan. I must weigh the activity according to its cost versus the benefits.

  • What will it cost compared to other activities on my list?
  • Will this detract from the things that matter most to me (family, personal growth, business)?

If the activity generates a greater cost than the benefits, why would I consider doing it? For example, I am a sucker for gathering knowledge for the sake of having knowledge. I used to tell myself this was for the purpose of being as well-rounded as possible. This was great in the past because I did not have a clear direction of where I wanted to go in life. But now that I have a very clear direction, how does non-pertinent knowledge bring me closer to my intended destination? It doesn’t. Therefore, my time would be better allocated to the pursuit of knowledge in my field. I would rather be a master of my craft (hedgehog) than a mediocre jack-of-all-trades (fox).

How do I do this? in a nutshell, I must determine what is essential. From there, I must learn to eliminate all the nonessentials. On paper, this is an easy formula for success, yet the reality is not so easy. It is a skill requiring vigilance and practice. If this is something I can master, which I believe I can, then my to-do list will have many less items on it and will be far more achievable. This will get me down the road and closer to my intended destination with less deviations along the way.

We can all purge our lives of the nonessential and embrace the way of the Essentialist—in our own ways, and in our own time, and on our own scale. We can all live a life not just of simplicity but of high contribution and meaning.

Greg McKeown, Essentialism

Another Night with the Frogs

2010. For the first time in over 14 years, I was jobless. The first month of unemployment, I was okay only a little worried. I had a good resumé and thought I was highly employable. As the days, then months, went by I became more worried. Relationships, especially my marriage, were strained. Depression set in and even the desire to go out and look for a job went away. By the end of year, I watched the days fade away as I sat doing nothing. I kept telling myself that tomorrow would be a better day. I would be more proactive and do what needed to be done.

When tomorrow came, I did as the day before and the days before that. Nothing. But oh, there was always another tomorrow, another chance to do better.

Then Pharoah summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord your God to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.

Moses answered Pharoah, “Please designate for me the time when I am to pray for you and your servants and your people, to get rid of the frogs from you and your houses. They will be left only in the Nile.

“Tomorrow,” he said. Then Moses replied, “It will be as you said, so that you may know that there is none like the Lord, our God.”

Exodus 8:4-6

I listened to this passage from Exodus on The Bible in a Year Podcast with Father Mike Schmitz. After the reading, Fr. Mike pointed out one key word: tomorrow. Pharoah was suffering. The frogs were everywhere. When Moses asked Pharoah when he wanted the frogs gone, Pharoah said tomorrow. Why not immediately? Why suffer another day with the frogs? Why spend another night with frogs crawling around in your bed? And like Pharoah, why do we continue with our suffering another day if we could remove it today?

January 2022. I wanted to begin the year just as I left off in 2021. Study hard, finish the gym I am building, and continue the home improvements. Instead, I got Covid. For about two weeks, I laid around doing nothing. Just sitting outside in the sun or taking a walk to the mailbox wore me out. There is so much I needed to get done, but I had no ability to do it. As much as I hated to say it, I was praying for a better tomorrow. Oh Lord, not this again!

As the illness faded and clarity was coming back to my mind, a glimmer of hope began to surface. I was reminded of the importance of time. Never again did I want to tell myself I could do something tomorrow if it was possible to do it today. What matters is today; tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Have you ever been there? When it comes to fitness, nutrition, alcohol, or starting a new venture? Did you ever choose to continue suffering today in the hopes of alleviating it tomorrow? Why spend another night with the frogs when you could make it all go away today?

One Take #15: Dealing with FUD

In the days leading up to the Great Flood, the people of the world were living a good and happy life. There was little worry about the future. They ate, drank, and made merry. If they continued to sacrifice to the local gods, nothing could go wrong.

Then one day, someone started building a large boat. This was strange as there were no large bodies of water nearby. They asked him what he was doing and did not like his answer.

To them, this was the Golden Age. They did not look well upon those that held contrary beliefs. They did not tolerate anyone who would spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And that is what Noah was doing. Their response was ridicule, derision, and mockery. Who did Noah think he was to ruin their good times? Thus, they continued in the disbelief until the rain began to fall.

In the early 1990’s, I had a teacher that believed the end was near. For us students, this was hard to believe. We were young and full of optimism. The world was changing before our eyes and thoughts of the end times were ridiculous. We were on the brink of a new Golden Age and this man was intent on cracking our good spirits. Today, we would consider this teacher an early “doomsday prepper.” He even advised us High School students to buy gold as a hedge against inflation. Back then, I had a hard time taking him seriously.

In my recent studies on cryptocurrencies, I have come across the acronym FUD. FUD is fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Spreading FUD will get you removed from online forums. Investors expect their returns to take them to the moon, and they do not appreciate those who would think differently. As an investor myself, I want to believe the best is yet to come. But at the same time, I don’t want to be so foolish to turn a blind eye to the spreaders of FUD. Doing so would be perilous if the storm really is on the horizon.

The world we live in is bound to have a little FUD. Last year, a health crisis began its devastating effects on the world. There are powerful people that are opposed to individual freedom. Our food and water supplies are being threatened. It seems that everywhere you turn, in every sector that impacts our lives, our existence is in peril. The FUD is real. I don’t want to be the one spreading the FUD. But It is out there, and I, for my own sanity, need to learn how to manage it.


F-E-A-R has two meanings. Forget Everything and Run. Or, Face Everything and Rise. The choice is yours.

Zig Ziglar

Essentially, we are talking about one of the most basic survival mechanisms we have as humans: fight or flight. In the face of real danger, to run makes sense. But to run from the challenge when no real threat exists is self-defeating. Instead, you should rise to the challenge.

When I think about fear, I think of the unknown. That can be scary. What if there are monsters hiding in the shadows? Even worse, what if the monsters are hiding in plain sight. A wolf at a distance in the daylight might not be that scary. One in the dark brings fear. Even worse, is the wolf dressed as a sheep. You don’t even know to be scared until it is too late.

Zig Ziglar has another acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. This acronym describes most of our fears. We have anxiety for a future that has not yet come to pass. We are in fear of something that we cannot control. And this leads to…


Robert Greene put it well when he stated, “The need for certainty is the greatest disease the mind faces.” We are not gods, yet we want the omniscient power. We want the security that comes in certainty. Maybe this condition has evolved with the evolution of our modern world. Instead of living lives of adventure and exploration, we have become accustomed to routine. We have adapted to a work, eat, sleep pattern with only manufactured adventures experienced through television and video games. Are we really choosing to go passively into the Matrix? When our routine is challenged, we become uncertain. And with uncertainty comes…


How do you know how to proceed if you don’t know how what will happen in the future? In truth, you don’t. But we can’t resort to inaction. Instead, you must take a step. You must travel the path the best you can. And if you are wrong? Well, at least you tried. And with the knowledge of being wrong, you can correct your course and take your next step in the right direction. The key is taking the steps. If you don’t take the steps, if you remain in place, you will never go anywhere. The only thing that will hold you back is yourself.

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.

Peter McIntyre

We must learn how to navigate the FUD in our lives. Yes, it can be difficult, but it can be done. Search for the truth wherever it can be found. Make it your personal mission and gravitate toward it. Become who you were meant to be and remember…

Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.

Robert Collier

One Take from the Week #14: This Is Not Financial Advice

First, a little thought experiment:

  • You have a fixed income in the form of a salary or retirement.
  • The government continues to print money at an historic rate with the idea that the rich will cover the expenses.
  • The lower classes continue to ride the free money train. This is much easier than working for roughly the same amount of money.
  • The value of the dollar continues to go down.
  • Help Wanted signs keep springing up in shop windows.
  • It gets harder and harder to spend your money, because you can go to a nearly empty restaurant and have an hour wait due to staffing issues.
  • Being harder to spend your money may be a good thing as everything now is more expensive compared to the dollar.

I worry about hyperinflation. I am not desperate now, but who is to say I won’t be desperate next year or ten years from now. If my salary/retirement cannot keep up with inflation, how will I be able to provide for myself and my family? How will I buy food and everyday supplies if no one is producing it? There is even the chance that the price of food will get so high that it will be unaffordable.

Pre-WWII Germany during its hyper-inflation where bread cost 2 million marks and people were burning the cash to stay warm. Picture courtesy of Daily Mail.

The economy is in shambles. How far away are we from the next major financial crisis like we had in 2008? How far away are we from the Second Great Depression? How prepared am I to deal with something like that? How prepared are you?

Enter Cryptocurrency

Two people I am close to approached me recently about my thoughts on cryptocurrency. They were invested in it and wanted to know my position. My position? What position? At the time of their asking, I knew nothing about it other than the stories of some get-rich-quick-newly-minted-millionaires. They said I was missing out on a potential opportunity. I let their words sink in.

How many times have I missed out on something because I didn’t know any better? Finances may be one of my biggest weaknesses. When I was younger, I racked up huge amounts of debt because I thought it was free money. How many decades did it take to get that under control? When the internet really started to open to financial opportunities, I was in no position to take advantage of it. I was more eager to consume content than to create it. I was a consumer, a spender. I was not a creator or investor. Big difference! Would I miss the boat on crypto as well? Oh gosh, I have a lot of work to do.

And thus begins the research…

I started with the easiest way to digest the information. I went to YouTube. This, like any other platform for information, is filled with a plethora of experts and an equal plethora of those who deem themselves to be experts. Much of what I saw turned out to be hype and non-information. Some of it, however, was good and coming from people who did the research. If you can sift out the wheat from the chaff, you have a valuable resource.

Next, I went to podcasts. This is not much different than YouTube, except you can find interviews with insiders who develop parts of the ecosystem. If you are interested, I recommend the Unchained Podcast with Laura Shin.

Then I hit the books. Ah yes, this is where I excel. Here, I learned what blockchain and crypto are, its influence, and technical capabilities. Much of this was to gather information on terms, history, and insights on a deeper level. If you are looking for current market trends, this is not the place to go. But if you are looking for foundational knowledge, this might be one of the best resources available.

Lastly, there are the online communities. These are also valuable resources if you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Disclaimer from Crypto Crow, whose videos have been super informative.


wen lambo

One of the most common questions I see in all its poorly written glory is “wen lambo.” What does it mean? When am I going to be able to buy a Lamborghini? There is a large group of investors who think they can put in $100 today and wake up tomorrow with millions. Obviously, there were some who got lucky. That percentage is probably just above winning the lottery. And what happens when they chance upon this windfall? Will they be broke in a year like many of the lottery winners? Here is your official “This is not financial advice” advice:

If you are struggling to pay your rent, don’t put it all in one a high-risk investment that has a once-in-a-lifetime shot at success.

HODL (Hold On for Dear Life)

What is the best way to pursue this investment opportunity? Do the research. Look at the companies, the people running the companies and their backgrounds. Play the long game with money you are willing to lose. Put your money in and let it sit, let it accumulate. Build it like an investment portfolio.

wen freedom

This is what I am really looking for. I don’t care about the Lambos or any other vehicles with low utility. I am looking for freedom and security. I am looking to protect myself from a dollar that is losing value. I want to rest at night knowing that my family is taken care of even in the event of my passing. For me, it is not “wen lambo” but “wen freedom.”

Similarities to Politics

Oh yeah, if you are not careful, following cryptocurrency and blockchain can become like following politics. It can you drive you into an obsessive mania of constantly checking your portfolio. You can go overboard with trying to catch all the latest news. If you allow this to happen, then there is no freedom. Instead, you will be shackling yourself to an unhealthy lifestyle full of stress.

This is my one take from the week. If you are not in the crypto world, hopefully you found the information useful. I am no expert in this world, but I am learning. I am going to give this the same attention and effort that I use for philosophy and health. If you are in this world or considering it, drop me a comment and let me know what you think. -Tony

Feature photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Dwelling on (Bad) Dreams

One Take from the Week #13: Dwelling on (Bad) Dreams

9 p.m. By my standards, it is late. I am still on my phone researching future investments. I know it is time to shut it down. I am taking in too much blue light. I am aware of the consequences and how it affects my sleep. Yet here I am, sipping on some chamomile tea and scrolling.

10 p.m. I have been laying here for thirty minutes. The moon is in its third night of super-brightness. Bethany is next to me sleeping soundly. I am wide awake. I take my phone out of airplane mode and open the Insight Timer app. I hit play on some sleep music. I am in desperation mode, and this calls for calming measures.

10:30 p.m. Nothing. I get up and go to the living room. Maybe a change of location is what I need. I hit the couch and then finally…

I am at a party. We are all having a good time, even the unknown serial killer that has joined us without our knowledge. Now people are dying, and I am in a fight for my life. How long does this fight go on? And then…

12:30 a.m. What the hell just happened? A bad dream? A nightmare? This is not what I need right now. That dream was so vivid, so real. I get up off the couch and go back to the bedroom. I lay back down and try to go to sleep. Yet, I am even more awake. Questions run through my mind, way too many of them.

  • Is a dream like an astral projection?
  • Did I leave my body and join other dreamers somewhere in the cosmic universe?
  • While in an astral projection, is it possible to sever the tether anchoring me to my body?
  • Can somebody else get in while I am projected?
  • Was the killer a real person somewhere in the universe?
  • Could he have gotten in while I was out?
  • Do I even trust myself at this point?
  • Who am I?
  • What am I?
  • Is it even safe to go back to sleep?

1:30 a.m. I get back up and go to the couch. I am back at the epicenter and afraid to go back to sleep. If there is a “yes” to even one of those questions, then it is too dangerous.

5:25 a.m. The alarm goes off. This is my “Don’t forget your keys and wallet and get on the road” alarm. I missed my 4 a.m. alarm and immediately go into fight or flight mode. If I don’t hurry, I am going to be late. Damn!

I am now driving with a podcast playing in the background. I barely even notice it. My mind is still trying to answer the questions. Freud, Jung, where are you guys? Got any advice? Nope. All is silent but my mind.

It does do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

J.K. Rowling

Of course, I need to let it go. It does not do well to dwell on this one. Action, any action is the remedy. Action equals life. And I, I want to live. Write it down, put it on the shelf, and get busy with life’s purpose.

The stoic in me says these sleeping dreams are out of my control. I can’t spend too much time on them.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

T.E. Lawrence

Are these sleeping dreams really vanity? In this case, I sure hope so. But the waking dreams, those are different. Those I can control. I have the power to influence the waking dreams. I can do something with them.

Feature photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

On Video Games

One Take from the Week #12: On Video Games

I grew up playing video games. It started with Atari, then Intellivision, Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation, and finally X-Box. After almost three decades of playing, I gave it up. I looked at how much time I wasted and all the things I could have done instead. I looked at where I was in life, my shortcomings, and I placed the blame on the video games.

As a reformed gamer, I started to look down on others who played. How could they fall into this trap? Don’t they know they are wasting their time as well? I could understand the lure for the younger generations. All their friends play. To not play would not be normal. But the older people? Would they ever grow up?

Last week, I had a cup of coffee with a former teammate. In time, the conversation turned to video games. Uh-oh, please don’t waste a good opportunity for meaningful conversation on such frivolities. But then my friend caught me completely off guard. He started talking about the community he was building through games. How is this possible? He went on to elaborate how he streams his games online. He answers the questions his viewers ask covering a wide range of topics. These include the games of course, but also on technical setups and general life questions. He admits he is not the best of players, but this does not matter to his audience. They are there for the experience, one in which they pay him a $5/monthly subscription. He said he makes about $300-400 a month for his services.

I was in shock. My views on gaming totally changed. Maybe not enough to start playing myself, but enough to appreciate what he does. How is this any different from some of the coaching I do?

Tonya, my partner at work, and I have been conducting a social media experiment. We are trying to become more influential in our specific niches. We have been doing our research and applying them to our posts. Though the niches are completely different, our strategy is similar. Therefore, when we collaborate, it is to our mutual benefit. This has been an exciting experiment as we are both continually learning and bringing to the table new ideas.

After my conversation with my gamer friend, what Tonya and I are doing is essentially playing a game. Though we are not making money at this, we are no different than the gamer. We are using our platforms to share information. The goal, like the gamer, is to get more subscribers. This goes beyond mere entertainment and into a realm of providing value to our viewers. I guess it turns out, I am still playing games.

Yes, my viewpoint has changed. How is it any different than reading, social media, or any other activity I find enjoyable? Like any other endeavor I engage in, I must consume in moderation. If it is solely for the purpose of entertainment, I am wasting my time. However, if I can use it as a tool for creativity by providing valuable content, then it is a worthwhile pastime.

Feature photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

One Take from the Week #11: Traffic, Choices, and Conscience

I woke up from my little nap to realize we were sitting in traffic. I had a slight urge to use the restroom, and we were at a standstill. Thirty minutes later, we moved about fifty feet. The urge was getting stronger. Being stuck was starting to get frustrating. The exit was less than a mile ahead.

A steady stream of cars was travelling down the shoulder to the right of us. I hate when people do that. But then a thought crossed my mind: What if the people in front of us had no intention of getting of the interstate? If that was the case, then being on the shoulder to get to the exit wasn’t really that bad. I continued to gaze into the side view mirror as the stream of cars continued past us.

“Hey babe, why don’t you pull off onto the shoulder like everyone else,” I asked. Bethany looked at me with a questioning look in her eyes. What I asked was completely against all our traffic etiquette beliefs. The answer was no.

Fifteen minutes later and another twenty-five feet down the road, my patience was wearing thin. Our estimated time of arrival was creeping towards midnight. It was only four in the afternoon. “C’mon, take the shoulder. There’s a break in the traffic coming up,” I said.

She looked at me again, shook her head, and then moved into the shoulder. As we drove, my wife voiced her concerns. She didn’t like the places where the way narrowed. A few cars up ahead of us were trying some half-hearted blocking maneuvers. Bethany’s grip on the steering wheel got tighter. We were so close. And then, traffic stopped. It turns out that all traffic was being diverted to the exit due to the overpass being completely blocked by two wrecked tractor-trailers.

A passenger in a Subaru next to us rolled down his window. We heard him waving his arms and yelling unintelligible words at us. Bethany looked straight ahead. She had her blinders on and wouldn’t give the guy the satisfaction that comes from retaliation. In my mind, I sized him up. Yeah, I thought. I could make him tap out in less than a minute. I dismissed the thought, looked at him, shrugged my shoulders, and offered him some prayer hands with a silent wish for peace.

I tried to talk to Bethany.  No response. She was angry with me. By listening to me, she violated her conscience. I knew in my heart she was right. I led her down a path she did not want to take.

Leo Tolstoy once said we should fear all that is not accepted by our conscience. Bethany’s actions against her conscience scared her. At the time, I didn’t understand it. I was motivated by own selfish actions and a lack of patience. In this case, coercing her into doing something she knew was wrong made me the worst of offenders. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and fix it, but I can do better in the future. Hopefully, I will have the wisdom when confronted with the next obstacle.

Photo by Tan Kaninthanond on Unsplash

Only Doing What They Think Is Right

One Take from the Week #10: Only Doing What They Think Is Right

A note came from Alec’s teacher this week. She wanted to let us know that he was having a hard time with a few of the students. Some of them were bothering him and his attitude was going from pleasant to unpleasant extremely fast. He was not telling the teacher when there was a problem, and he was not dealing with the situation in a proper way. Unable to use his reasoning skills, he was resorting to the use of force to resolve the conflict. At his age, using force is easier than using wisdom to solve the problem. But easy is not the solution and often results in unintended consequences.

My counsel to him was to identify the problem. I asked him, “Is this you or is it them? If it is them, then you need to respond accordingly which is to let the teacher know. If it is you, then you must determine if you need to change. Ideally, these students will be who you are hanging out with for the next nine years of your life. You will be working together in class, playing together in sports, and engaging with each other socially. What can you do to be in harmony with the group?” After our conversation, I joked with Bethany on where he could have gotten these behaviors from. Surely, he must have gotten it from her.

The next day, I was a little mentally bothered at work. One person was getting under my skin. There was a breakdown of communication with another. One of my team members asked me what was wrong. I responded with “nothing.” She knew right away that I wasn’t being truthful. Apparently, I have not yet mastered the ability to mask my facial expressions. The stress I was holding on the inside was manifesting itself outwardly. I told her, “My problems are with my perception. The others are doing what is in their nature. They are doing what they think is right. I need to adjust my emotions accordingly.” It was almost in line with something the philosopher Epictetus would say. As I said it, I had a moment of clarity. How are my problems any different than that of Alec’s?

It turns out he is more like me than I thought. These behaviors didn’t get genetically passed down from his mother. No. Those were the apples he picked up from me. I was quick to give him counsel him on a response that I continue to struggle with. Of course, I will not use force to resolve petty annoyances. But I can do better. I can use more wisdom and less emotion. I can remember these words from Epictetus earlier rather than later:

Whenever anyone criticizes or wrongs you, remember that they are only doing or saying what they think is right. They cannot be guided by your views, but their own…Say to yourself each time, “He did what he believed was right.”

Feature photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Unintentional Consequences of Delaying Your Dreams

One Take from the Week #9: Unintentional Consequences of Delaying Your Dreams

Ever since childhood, Carl was a dreamer. When he was a child, he watched a movie that left a lasting impression on him. The world was much bigger than he realized. Beyond his little neighborhood was a vast unknown waiting to be explored. That day, Carl made up his mind. He was going to be an adventurer and travel to the far reaches of the world.

That was Carl’s dream, but he did something different. He did what he was expected to do. He didn’t have the money to follow his dreams, so he got a job. He met someone with a similar dream, and they got married. To save up enough money to go on their adventures, his wife got a job.

They had a plan. It was a good plan. In fact, it was the logical plan that responsible people are encouraged to make. But in the movie Up, we realize that plans are only plans and have no guarantees. Carl and Ellie continued to dream and to work as they got older. Ellie ended up dying and they never got to go on their adventure together.

Carl’s story reminds me of Jack. Jack owned a construction and built houses all over town. Like Carl, he also dreamed of travelling the world with his wife. One day he was going to slow down and retire. What he didn’t count on was becoming a widower. His loss was devastating, and his quality of life took a dramatic turn for the worse. Eventually, his daughter forced him to move in with her and her family. This didn’t go over well and what ensued was War with Grandpa.

Carl (Up) and Jack (War with Grandpa).

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

Alan Watts

The lesson could be that wives should never die before their husbands, but it is not. Instead, the lesson is about the unintentional consequences of delaying your dreams. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, let alone another twenty years and a comfortable retirement. If your dreams are nothing more than a fantasy, that is fine. Have your fantasy. But if this dream is important enough, you must start setting it into motion today. Make the plans, lay the groundwork, and attack it with all your being. Don’t let these dreams only be wasted thoughts. Bring them from the world of illusions into reality.

Feature photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

To Take Your Reading to the Next Level: Use OPIR

One Take from the Week #8: OPIR

I cannot recall how many times I have found myself bogged down in the middle of a book that either lost my interest or was not pertinent to where I was in my life. Unless it is for pleasure (fiction before bed), I generally only read non-fiction. This is for the dual purpose of learning and growing. If I am not getting anything out of the book, then I consider it a waste of time. As William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” My goal is not to have time as something I use the worst.

How can I make the most of my time and prevent a loss of it through wasted reading? I could quit the book like I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This would allow me to discontinue my investment in an underperforming asset. But there is another way. This week I listened to a Living 4D podcast with Paul Check and Ben Greenfield. In this episode, they discussed a method I have heard of from other prolific readers but have never tried personally. It is called OPIR, a way to know what you are reading before you invest (or waste) the time it takes to read the whole thing.

OPIR – Overview, Preview, Inview, Review.

*This strategy was designed to use speed reading techniques to get through business manuals. However, I am not a speed reader. I have tried it and never liked it. It might keep me behind the curve, but I prefer to read at conversational speed. Because I am not a speed reader, the following is my adaptions to the original design.


  • Start with the cover.
  • Look at the front and the back.
  • Read the information inside the jacket.
  • If you are not familiar with the author, then read the bio.
  • Look at the table of contents. Are you still interested? If yes, then move on to the next step.


  • Read the foreword and the afterword.
  • Go to each chapter and read the first couple of paragraphs. Skim the rest of the chapter and highlight anything that stands out to you.
  • Is the book worth the investment in time you are about the make? Proceed.


  • Read the book.
  • Highlight content.
  • Make notes.
  • During the overview and preview, you read the table of contents and glimpsed each chapter. Was there one that you did not find relevant or interesting? Skip it. If at the end, you feel like you missed something, you can always go back to it.


  • Go over your notes and highlights.
  • Take any actionable steps.
  • Hopefully, this book changed your life in some way. The review process is intended to solidify those changes.

Using this process to read a book might cost you a day’s worth of reading. Compare that to a week or a month’s worth wasted in a book that was not beneficial to you. This strategy will improve the value of the content, keep you from wasting your time, and give you a greater ability to retain the information. Give it a try. If you do, I would love to know how it worked out for you. Leave me a note in the comments.