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“I need a re-do.”

“This isn’t my life.”

Everybody I interview starts here.

Then they change their lives. And everybody wants to know, “How the f*** did you do that??”

The questions marks are in their eyes.

Like money signs.

They’re drooling with hope.

I’m going to tell you how Brad Thor, the bestselling thriller novelist, escaped a job he didn’t love.

In just 3 steps.

And replaced it with a life actually worth living.

I told people, “I want to try stand up.”

I got social validation for it.

“That’s great! Wow, look at you,” they said.

Telling people what you’re going to do gives your brain the same reward as actually doing it.

So I didn’t have to go on stage. People already congratulated me.

I was happy. And miserable.

I let myself down. Everyday that I didn’t go on stage.

So I went to someone I could trust. A logical skeptic. And good friend, Stephen Dubner. We had this podcast at the time, “Question of the Day.”

We were playing backgammon when I told him my secret dream.

“Stephen, I want to do stand up.”

And he did what I needed. He didn’t congratulate me. He asked questions. The conversation became my roadmap.

Because now I was figuring out two things.

A). The “Why.”

“Why do you want to do stand up?” he asked.

I thought about it. Sometimes people just need space to think out loud. Without criticism. Or judgement. That’s what friends are for.

B) Then I figured out the “How.”
This is important. “Why” always comes before “how.”

“How” can kill your dream.

But if you’re “why” is big enough, “how” can’t kill you.

We planned a show.

We both did 5 minutes of stand up. I wanted to vomit.

I told the crowd about the difficulties of wiping a vagina for the first time. And learning how to be a dad.

There’s a video.

I get embarrassed watching it now.

But I shouldn’t. I should be proud I have a day 1.

People are deathly afraid to have a day 1. “I don’t want to suck,” they say.

But you do suck.

It’s a fact.

Not trying means you suck more. Because you’re turning your back on yourself.

And that’s way harder to live with.

Here’s how Brad Thor got his day 1.

“I’m gonna break news with you here,” he said. “I did something no American has ever done in history… I moved to Paris to write a novel when I graduated college.”

“I can’t believe you did that! Nobody’s ever done that!”


He moved in with a friend.

“I started writing a novel. I got two or three chapters into it and thought, ‘Uh oh, what if I fail? What if nobody likes my book? What if I can’t get a good book written? What if I can’t get it published?’ It’s that voice we all have in our heads at one time or another that says, ‘It’s not worth the potential embarrassment.’”

He quit.

Left Paris.

Went home. And didn’t try again for 8 years. But at least he had a day 1.


Eight years later, Brad tried again. He was working in TV. He had a production company. And he worked on a show from scratch.

But it’s not really what he loved.

Then he gets married. And goes on a honeymoon.

And she asked him…

“What would you regret on your deathbed never having done?”

“What did you say?” I asked.

“The answer just popped out. I didn’t even think. I said, ‘Writing a novel and getting it published.’”

Then she made him promise. That’s step 3.

she said when the honeymoon is over, he’d have to carve out 2 hours a day for his dream.

And he did.

“I couldn’t take it back once I had told my wife,” he said.

But keep reading if you don’t have someone like Brad’s wife.


If I married Brad’s wife, I would’ve gone on stage 30 years ago.

That’s ok.

Because I also have my podcast, my books, my blog. I’ve done a lot of things without a real “accountability partner.”

Usually, sadness held me accountable. Hitting bottom made me write every day. Because not writing was painful.

You don’t need someone to hold you accountable. You can just follow Brad’s rule:

Cut out what you don’t need.

And set the clock.

He writes at least 2 hours a day.

So I asked him, “What did you have to sacrifice?”

“Luckily, I got the gym in the morning,” he said. “So it was television. It was coming out of my personal time,” he said.

He gave up evenings.

Some people give up lunch. Or wake up earlier. Or delete Facebook.

And if you say, “I can’t. I don’t have time.”

Write down everything you do in a day.

Take inventory.

Or stop showering.

That’s how you carve out time for your dream. And find your day 1.

It’s the reason Brad Thor just came out with his 19th book (18th in the Scot Harvath
series), called “Backlash.”

It’s how he became a #1 New York Times bestselling author.

And it’s how everybody gets a re-do.


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