How to conquer self-sabotage

Ramit Sethi

You’re about to get advice from a guy who was recently listening to Pandora, heard an awesome song come on, loved it enough to search for the lyrics, and paused when he realized it was by Miley Cyrus. Then he (I) added it to his playlist.


When I look at you…

Let’s talk about FRIENDS WITH EXCUSES.

Do you have a friend who constantly makes bad choices, then asks you for advice?

  • “Why doesn’t she ever call me back?” (Perhaps it’s because you make yourself way too available and your desperation oozes off you.)
  • “I hate my job…” (yet have done nothing to change it except complaining)
  • “Ugh, I really need to go to the gym” (but instead will continue making excuses, like how they can’t afford the $50 even though they pay that much in late fees every month)

They’re your friend, so you want to help. And what happens when you offer advice?


“Oh, that won’t work because…” [EXCUSE1, EXCUSE2, EXCUSE3]. I don’t have enough money…I don’t have enough time…I didn’t go to X school…I don’t have the same genetics as you…I’m just not made like you.”

After a while, you start to wonder if you’re going to go blind from rolling your eyes so much.

But if we’re honest, WE’VE done the exact same thing!

I’ve seen it myself on my site.

How many of us have gone to IWT, or Jezebel, or Lifehacker, or a pickup site, seen ONE thing we don’t like, and said, “THIS SITE IS RIDICULOUS. THERE’S NO WAY THAT WOULD WORK BECAUSE [REASON 1, 2,3]. I HATE ALL [men/women/Republicans/Democrats].”

We go to these sites for advice, entertainment. We read them for years. And yet, how many of us have ignored their advice the entire time?


We find one sliver of information that isn’t exactly tailored to our situation and say, “Aha! I knew this wasn’t for me.”

Have we truly lost the ability to take advice and apply the right parts to our situation? Should I kill myself right now?

Here’s a common example from commenters on my site. I teach some technique about earning more. “RAMIT, THAT’S TOTAL NONSENSE AND YOU KNOW IT. That would NEVER work for me because I [live in Norway/have an overweight cousin/skipped college/have an apple tree but not an orange tree in my backyard].”

It’s like they cannot pick and choose — and they don’t realize that good advice is mixed in with advice that may not be exactly applied to you.

These people want everything spoon fed to them — advice perfectly tailored to their age, gender, location, social situation, even diet. And if it’s not — UGH! RIDICULOUS!

This is not about internet trolls — it’s about self-sabotage

This isn’t about obnoxious internet trolls. It’s actually something more pernicious: self-sabotaging barriers.

When was the last time you had a perfect solution in front of you, and you stopped yourself from success?

We do this unconsciously. We see a result we want — oh wow, he lost a lot of weight…oh wow, she has an awesome online business — but I could never do that. This is “The Shrug Effect,” or a way for us to shrug and say, “Well, maybe that works for HIM, but not me.”

Why? It’s easier to take NO action than to change what we’ve been doing. Change means work. It also means acknowledging we may have been wrong for a long time…sometimes years.

At IWT, I’ve catalogued over 50 “shrugs.” People write thousands of emails a year asking questions like:

  • “What if I don’t have an idea?
  • “What if I don’t have 10 hours/week?”
  • “Yeah, but will that work if I live in Spain?”

As your Surrogate Asian Father, heed my wise words: Cut the shit, people.

I’ve promised to always be brutally honest with you. So since we’ve been talking about starting an online business, I knew there would be a lot of doubts. Can you do it? What if you don’t have an idea?

I decided to look for the most CHALLENGING situation to test my material on.

Meet Primoz, a Zero to Launch beta student. He lived in Slovenia, where the average annual income is just over $32,000, where he earned $7/hour.

“It is so amazing to be able to do something
that you want to be doing.” – Primoz

He had no special advantages: No rich parents. No SEO skills.

I gave him my material and set him loose to create an online business. Then I brought him into my video studio to interview him.

Look at him. Listen to his story. Listen to his accent! This dude is hilarious. And, by the way, he used my material so successfully and grew his business so explosively that he flew from Slovenia to the United States business class — TWICE — just to hang out.



If he can do it, so can you.

UPDATE — New Zero to Launch course reviews!

Check this out, several Zero to Launch students have posted detailed reviews of the Zero to Launch course on their own blogs. You can hear all about their experiences — including pros and cons, and who the course is right for — in their own words. I’ll keep updating this list as more reviews come out:

I’ve collected more Zero to Launch reviews, direct from students here. Check them out.


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