Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, entrepreneur, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → Whatever scares you or excites you, go do it

Just got an email from a high school student asking if I would recommend Berklee College of Music, as compared to taking a year off to travel the world.

After giving some details about Berklee, I realized it came down to this:

I have some easy rule-of-thumbs to follow

  1. whatever excites you, go do it
  2. whatever scares you, go do it
  3. every time you’re making a choice, one choice is the safe/comfortable choice - and one choice is the risky/uncomfortable choice. the risky/uncomfortable choice is the one that will teach you the most and make you grow the most, so that’s the one you should choose.

So if travelling Europe as a vagabond for a year is what seems more scary and exciting, do that! Though if that feels like slacking or avoiding, and going to music school is more scary and exciting, do that!

The risk/safety choice thing comes from Abraham Maslow, and you should see this page about Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization if you’re interested in that kinda thing.

My friend Mark Fried of Spirit Music had a similar saying: “Whatever you’re thinking, go do it.” - which I also seem to follow almost every day.