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Our own worst critics

Hey friends, A few weeks ago, I sent out an email about The Reitoff Principle for Productivity. At th
Our own worst critics
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #60 • View online
Hey friends,
A few weeks ago, I sent out an email about The Reitoff Principle for Productivity. At the time, I thought the email was a load of shite - I had to come up with something for that week, and couldn’t think of anything, so I pulled a few paragraphs out of my urethra and sent them out. I thought the renaming of ‘write-off’ to ‘Reitoff’ was kinda funny, but apart from that, I knew that I was just spouting drivel.
Much to my surprise, the email seems to have resonated with people. I got lots of nice and thoughtful replies from you guys, and the following week I happened to have dinner with a lovely chap who subscribes to this newsletter. He’s a 39-year-old vet who had just sold his own veterinary practice for a lot of money and was working on setting up multiple side-hustles to generate passive income for himself and his family. He also commented that he really liked the idea of the Reitoff Principle and shared a story of how he’d been applying something similar to his own life.
I was pretty shocked. Somehow this email that I originally thought was terrible had actually helped some people.
That got me thinking about something my brother and I discussed in one of our early podcast episodes. Clearly we’re our own harshest critics*, and we’re not very good judges of the work that we produce. This is a massive issue for anyone who’s ever tried to put themselves out there in almost any sphere - the fear that ‘what I’m making isn’t good enough’.
Building a YouTube channel, recording podcasts, writing this weekly email - these are all partly exercises in overcoming fear. With almost everything I produce and stick on the internet, there’s a part of me saying ‘this isn’t good enough’. Thankfully, over time and with practice, that voice has gotten quieter to the point that I can comfortably ignore it for the most part.
So if you’re ever trying something new, putting something out into the world, and you’ve got that niggling feeling of ‘what if this isn’t good enough’, don’t worry. Everyone goes through it. We just have to battle through, ignore that voice, and do it anyway.
Have a great week!
Ali
* I recently posted on my Instagram story asking for viewers to send in their assumptions about me, for the sake of an ‘answering your assumptions’ video. I’ve never been roasted so hard in my life. Except maybe when I got put into middle-set French in Year 9.

This week's podcast episode
Not Overthinking | 012 - How much of our behaviour is status-seeking? | Episode 12
Stuff I enjoyed this week
1 - Article - The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online (David Perrell) - Absolutely incredible read about how, well, how to write online. So many insights packed into a single blog post.
2 - Podcast - How to travel lighter, safer, and smarter (featuring Sarah von Bargen) - This episode of Deviate by Rolf Potts really gave me the bug for long-term travel. I’m therefore planning an open-ended trip to various different countries from August 2020 once my foundation years as a doctor finish. PS: If anyone would recommend their country/city to visit, and fancies showing me around, drop me a line :)
3 - HelloFresh - I started using the service HelloFresh this week. It’s amazing. They deliver fresh groceries to your door, in the perfect quantities to cook amazing food by following their simple recipes, without any extra cognitive overhead. My housemate and I have been eating like royalty this past week. Definitely something I’m going to continue with. If you’re based in the UK and want to give it a try, please use the code ALIABDAA - that should give you £20 off, but also gives me £20 off my next order lol. PS: This is not sponsored. I wish it were.
Kindle Highlight of the Week
There are two sides to work. On one side is our need and desire for money. We work in order to get paid. On the other side, and totally separate from our wages, is the fact that we work in order to fulfill many other purposes in our lives.
The real problem with work, then, is not that our expectations are too high. It’s that we have confused work with paid employment.
Redefining “work” as simply any productive or purposeful activity, with paid employment being just one activity among many, frees us from the false assumption that what we do to put food on the table and a roof over our heads should also provide us with our sense of meaning, purpose and fulfillment. Breaking the link between work and money allows us to reclaim balance and sanity.
This week's video
How to Spin an Apple Pencil - Pen Spinning Tutorial (2019)
How to Spin an Apple Pencil - Pen Spinning Tutorial (2019)
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends, I'm Ali, a Cambridge medicine graduate now working as an FY1 junior doctor. I spend most of my spare time making YouTube videos, but every Sunday I send out an email 'newsletter' with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discover on the internet.

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Ali Abdaal, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, CB2 8RP