How to Find Creative Freedom


Hey friends,

I’m listening to an audiobook by the philosopher Alan Watts called You’re It!: On Hiding, Seeking, and Being Found.

Alan says something in the first chapter that really stood out for me: ‘I’m not a clergyman. I’m more of a physician’.

  • ⛪ Clergymen try to keep and grow their audience
  • 🏥 Physicians try to get rid of their patients, ASAP

Alan prefers that his readers get value from his work and leave – not hang around for more nuggets of wisdom. Visakan Veerasamy said something similar on Twitter today:

And actually, the only reason Alan talks about mysticism, philosophy, or Eastern traditions is because he enjoys it.

He sees himself like a ‘spring bubbling from the side of the mountain’ – if a traveller drinks from the spring and enjoys it, that’s fine. But that’s not the purpose of the spring.

The spring just exists.

That really resonated with me. I’d love to have this attitude towards everything I create: to just write and film things for myself.

And if that helps just one person, that’s an amazing bonus. But it’s not the point of the exercise.

A man does not really begin to be alive until he has lost himself, until he has released the anxious grasp which he normally holds upon his life, his property, his reputation and position.
– Alan Watts

Now, if I’m providing value as a business person, it’s sensible to charge for it (so I can carry on playing my infinite game). I’m starting a Patreon pretty soon, for example, to give people useful behind-the-scenes info – monthly Q&As etc.

But the vibe will very much be ‘when this stops being useful to you, please cancel your subscription, no hard feelings.’ It won’t be a church where I’m trying to hook you for life.

Increasingly these days, I just want to create whatever I like, whenever I like.

And that’s a pretty liberating creative aim.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

PS My amazing life coach Corey Wilks is running a 5-week course called Intentional Life Design, which helps you figure out your life and career. It covers all the topics Corey and I work on in our 1:1 sessions, but in live cohort format. Early bird registration ends Friday 5th August.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to the course.

⏳ 80,000 Hours – Make an impact with your career

Your career contains a lot of time. In fact, on average it’ll be 80,000 hours long – which means that if you could improve your career by even 1%, it’d be worth spending around 4 months of full-time work to get that improvement.

But spending time planning your career can feel really aversive, especially if, like me, you care about actually making a positive difference in the world.

Last month I interviewed my friend Benjamin Todd for my podcast Deep Dive. He’s the cofounder and president of 80,000 Hours, which is a nonprofit that aims to help you find a fulfilling career that does good, too. Benjamin and his team at 80,000 Hours have spent the last 10 years doing research alongside academics at Oxford University on how you can have the most positive impact with your career.

All their stuff is 100% free for everyone, and their advice is always backed by careful research; like this recent article about how knowing what you’re optimising for can make a big difference to how well you do, or this article on ways to make a positive difference in any career.

They also have their own podcast with super in-depth expert interviews (e.g. with Ezra KleinAndrew Yang, or one on having a successful career with depression & anxiety), a job board, and a newsletter.

And if you like, they’ll send you their free in-depth career guide – the guide aims to help you make a positive difference with your career & it’s definitely worth a read, take a look here.

Thanks to 80,000 Hours for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 🙏

♥️ My Favourite Things

🧠 Shortform Summary – Find Your Why by Simon Sinek. The book lays out a framework for discovering your purpose, strengths, and core beliefs. Simon has a controversial take: that your ‘purpose’ in life is fixed in your 20’s, and never really changes after that.

🎙️ Deep Dive – How To Design Your Career For Happiness, with Samantha Clarke. Samantha’s a work happiness consultant, author, and resident lecturer at The School of Life. We discussed traditional careers, knowing when it’s time to quit your job, and negotiating emotional barriers to change.

🐦 Tweet Thread – Let’s Talk About Burnout, by Cedric Chin. Cedric looked at a bunch of research papers to see how burnout works, why it happens, and how to (hopefully) prevent it.

🎙️ Podcast – Alex Hormozi on becoming a Millionaire, Quieting Your Ego & Forgetting about Legacy. Alex has built several multi-million dollar businesses from the ground up. There was some great discussion about how ‘the desire for legacy is the desire to cheat death’, and that it doesn’t usually end well.

🎬 My New Videos

🦉 28 Life Lessons from 28 Years in 28 Minutes. I recently turned 28 years old, so I thought it’d be fun to do a roundup of all the lessons I’ve learned in that time. Enjoy 😜

💸 How to Spend Money to buy Happiness. “If money doesn’t make you happy, you’re probably not spending it right.” I explore nine principles (pulled from scientific research papers) that can help us get more from our money.

✍️ Quote of the Week

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

From Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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