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Founder, KorteX
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"If you want practical strategies to maximize your own well-being, then create a profitable internet business around your passions, interests and curiosities – Goldfield is your guy."


only 1 in 100 people will take their new year’s resolution all the way to december. ​¹​

so why does everyone keep trying?

because no-one knows about the better option.

but i’m going to tell you about it in this post.

first, though, i’m going to tell you why no-one can keep their promises to themselves.

the future doesn’t exist

a resolution is an “i will” statement:

🔹”i will floss every day”
🔹”i will learn to meditate”
🔹”i will stop looking like Peter Griffin when i’m naked”

to make a resolution you have to project into the future.

problem: the future doesn’t exist. (at least not in the way most people think it does.)

most people think of the future as a yet-to-exist moment in time that’s already “out there” waiting for us to arrive.

but this is nonsense.

the only reason people believe it is because everyone else believes it.

the reason everyone else believes it is because it’s convenient to believe it.

the future is convenient

the unique edge of the human species is, of course, imagination. imagination enables us to plan, which is how we build houses and sh!t.


i’m not suggesting for a second we stop planning.

what i’m going to suggest, later on, is that we stop using the future to put things off.

putting things off is precisely what we’re doing when we make new year’s resolutions.

in other words:

no-one wants to do the stuff their resolutions are made of.

if they did they’d just do it.

the discipline conspiracy

we’ve all been there: sprawled out on the sofa, staring at the gym shorts hanging over the radiator. it’s raining and you really don’t want to go outside. much less do you feel motivated to throw dumbbells around.

but you should.

but you don’t want to.

but you really should.

but you really don’t want to.

now, a quick thought experiment

who is the “you” who’s trying to force “you” into action?

and who is the “you” who’d rather watch another youtube video?

there are two “you’s” in this scenario.

but which one is the real you? which one do you trust?

now there’s a third “you” (the one who’s assessing the other two!)

if this sounds confusing, you’re following correctly. it is confusing, but it’s how most people live their lives!

typical motivations are flimsy as hell

so why is everyone so often engaged in the kind of “self-negotiation” i illustrated above?

it’s actually due to a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of existence… but i’ll get to that later.

right now i want to discuss another problem that’s in the mix: flimsy motivations.

again, no-one really wants to do the stuff their resolutions are made of.

but here’s the problem: they’ve been told they should.

in fact, if you’re like most people, you were YELLED at about what you should do since before you were making memories.

if you did what the big people said, you were praised and given sugar (see: drugs).

but if you didn’t do what the big people said, you were sent to your room to “think about what you did.” (how a 4-year-old is meant to reason their way to a more mature understanding is beyond me.)

the end result of this kind of “guidance” is that the big person’s voice is “installed” in the little person’s mind. in other words, the child learns to “parent” itself.

in other words, we “grow up”.

first we stop ourselves picking our noses.

then we stop ourselves being curious about anything that’s not approved.

before we know it we’ve forgotten what genuine motivation feels like. and we design our entire lives around what we think we should do and forget all about what we want to do.

now, i’m not suggesting kids should be allowed to play with fire.

i’m pointing out that we—society, parents, teachers—go too far.

Dr. George Land led a NASA study on creativity. he found that 98% of five-year-olds fell into the “genius” category for imagination! ​²​

but just 5 years later, Dr. Land went back to his sample of 1600 kids and found that only 30% of ten-year-olds remained in the “genius” category.

only 12% remained at age 15. and only 2% of adults were ranked in the category of imaginative genius.

in the words of Louis C.K. “school is where dreams are narrowed down.”

this is why everyone is living in the world of “should”. just following orders, as we were trained.

here’s the part that’s really f¥cking dark: we know this doesn’t lead anywhere good.

the World Health Organization published findings that someone commits suicide every 40 seconds. that’s 800,000 people per year. ​³​

a colleague of my wife’s committed suicide this week and she was a mental health professional.

we need profound change at the societal level.

but in order to make that happen, we first need change at the individual level…

the hardest question i ever had to answer

in 2017 i was one year into a full-time personal development course.

one question we studied came up again and again to haunt me:

“what do you want?”

the course explored the question from at least a dozen angles.

still, every time i tried to answer—whether in my head, on paper or in conversation—my answer felt empty. i felt like i could answer completely differently in the next moment and both answers would be equally valid.

it was as if i had no ground to stand on.

i felt like i was losing all sense of myself.

i needed more help.

so alongside the course i was on i started speaking with my first mindfulness teacher.

the big shift: “unification of mind”

everyone gets excited about trippy states of consciousness in meditation. but the real payoff is what the buddha called unification of mind. and i learned that—with enough practice—this can be taken right off the meditation cushion and into daily life.

but what does “unification of mind” mean?

when your mind is unexamined your thoughts are typically scattered. you’re easily distracted and you don’t know what you really want.

this is why you turn to cheap tactics like new year’s resolutions to attempt to realize your ideal self. but if you really wanted to look after your body, mind, finances, etc. you wouldn’t have to use resolutions or discipline to do so.

now, here comes the real question:

how can you be sure that when you unify your mind you’ll want good, healthy, wholesome things?

this depends on your answer to yet another question (stay with me):

what is the fundamental nature of the human being?

is it good or bad?

kind or unkind?

wise or unwise?

it’d be easy to look around the world as it is right now and think the worst.

but as i continued speaking with my mindfulness teacher i heard stories of hundreds of millions of monks throughout history—who all found that when they got quiet they discovered their true nature was peaceful, happy and beneficial.

they wanted to take care of themselves and others once they relaxed out of all the “shoulds” society had placed on them.

of course, you won’t find any of them on the Mr. Olympia stage. if that’s your goal you’re reading the wrong newsletter. but you will find millions of them leading healthy, fulfilled, long lives (without a new year’s resolution in sight).

from the outside a monk might look disciplined, but on the inside they’re just doing what comes naturally. they’ve stopped craving entertainment, excitement and junk food and what’s left is harmony.

how to finally get some answers

from the moment i became self-aware, it was crystal clear to me that the way i was told to live my life made no sense.

the way i was told to “be nice” to my little sister made no sense because i didn’t feel nice about her.

the way i was told to go to bed at a certain time made no sense because i was excited to stay awake and explore reality.

the way i was told to go to school made the least sense, because i could tell the whole operation was about killing my curiosity, inspiration and creativity (but hey, those aren’t important for learning, right?)

i had endless questions about all this:

🔹why should i be nice to my sister?
🔹why should i go to bed?
🔹why should i go to school?

the answer was always some variation on “because i said so”.

when i was a teenager my father gave me some excellent worldly answers:

“as the big brother you’re responsible for looking out for your sister, even when she’s mean to you.”

“you need some kind of structure in your life or you’ll never make anything of yourself.”

“a general education is the best society can do for so many millions of children, but you’ll get to specialize later.”

but i still felt something was missing.

i wanted deeper answers.

it took me thirty years to finally find some that were satisfying.

i had to spend hundreds of hours talking with wisdom teachers and thousands of hours practising and contemplating what they said.

the good news is that you don’t have to.

because once i had my answers i spent further thousands of hours figuring out how to bring together the best of spirituality, self-help and psychology, then i spent even more thousands of hours figuring out how to say it all in plain language and make it practical in the 21st century.

this newsletter is the result. (check out past issues ​here.​)

the moment everything changed for me

during my long contemplation of that million dollar question, “what do i want?” there was a clear turning point.

for a whole year i tried to answer as if the question were an assignment. essentially i’d been writing essays of varying length (sometimes on paper, sometimes in the mind).

but around the 1-year mark of my contemplation i realized that of course my answers felt empty—because they were empty! they were made-up, fabricated, contrived!

my mindfulness practice had revealed that anything in words is made-up, fabricated, contrived—because words themselves are made up, fabricated, contrived!

now, you may find yourself thinking “yes dan, of course words are made up. we all know language started as grunts and yelps.”

but i invite you to examine whether you really feel that words are empty—or whether this is just something you appreciate intellectually. in other words, do you experience the reality of things absent of their labels and descriptions?

can you look at your hand and appreciate how f¥cking trippy it is? or do you just see a “hand”?

anyway, it became clear that i could never find the deep answer i was seeking in words.

with that realization it became obvious that if i wanted to know what i really wanted i would have to look instead at my behaviour. so i started to examine my behaviour from the past hour, day, week, month, year… and the answer to my question became abundantly clear.

what i really wanted, more than anything else…

all i’d really wanted since i first became self-aware as a little boy…

was to truly, deeply understand myself and this amazing reality.

that’s what all my thoughts and actions had been about for 4 years at that point!

but here’s something very important: that wish to understand myself and my reality hadn’t shown up in a SINGLE ONE of my essay-type answers—because i hadn’t thought it a valid answer.

but why didn’t i think it was a valid answer?

because it was never on the list of “shoulds” people had been shoving down my throat my entire life.

THIS is the essence of why new year’s resolutions don’t work.

as long as you’re living your life based on “shoulds,” you’re living a life based on made-up, fabricated, contrived ideas.

and as long as you’re living in the world of made-up ideas, what you really want will be hidden from you—because it doesn’t exist on the level of ideas but much, much deeper.

so should you cancel your gym membership?

not necessarily.

it depends whether your motivation for going to the gym is genuine.

i go to the gym 2-3 times per week.

but not because i should.

nor because i want to get jacked.

i go to the gym because i plan to be writing these newsletters till i’m 100. that means some maintenance is necessary.

honestly, i don’t experience the immediate payoffs of exercise. everyone talks about improved mood and energy but i feel great going into the gym and great coming out. (thanks mindfulness!)

of course, your case will likely be different. so i’m going to guide you through a quick ‘n’ dirty “motivation masterclass” to help you get where you really want to be.

what to do instead of new years’ resolutions

1. quiet down

if your life is like the typical 21st-century life then the first thing to do to uncover your genuine motivations is make some space.

🔹take some annual leave
🔹cancel on your friends
🔹hire a cleaner

whatever it takes.

once you’re rested and finally feel like you have some actual free time, do this:


if you’ve never done anything like this before (some people call it “meditation” but whatever) you likely won’t last long.

you’ll likely be distracted, restless, fidgety and anxious.

but this is very important: just doing the process once is a major victory. this is the kind of practice all wisdom teachers encourage—right the way back to the buddha and beyond.

now, don’t worry—you’re not entering into a religion because you did something recommended by the buddha. the buddha was actually outspoken against religion. it’s not his fault people built statues of him after he died. (he actually forbade it.)

the term scientist is a far more accurate description of the buddha than anything else in english. he was a curious explorer concerned only with truth—and he always encouraged everyone to test his hypotheses for themselves. that’s science.

work with the practice above until you can enjoy it for at least 5 minutes. this will give you a taste of the mental space you need. then…

2. study your behaviour

consider what you were doing yesterday, last week, last month, last year—especially in moments when you had free time.

i didn’t journal on this, but you can if you like.

when you see patterns, congratulations—you just discovered what you want.

now, you may not like what you discover.

that’s okay.

if you find out that what you want is to drink yourself into a coma every chance you get, well, there’s a cause for that. you’re probably trying to escape something. continue to practice and/or journal to find out what that might be.

this is the process of purification that wisdom practitioners have enjoyed for millennia. meditation and contemplation.

if you keep going with this you will stop your harmful and wasteful behaviours.

it’s important to note here that wine or junk food or binge-watching love island isn’t inherently bad. if you label them as such you’re right back in the realm of “shoulds” that you’re trying to escape.

the real question is “are these things fulfilling when you do them all the time?”

or, to flip the question, “is there something more fulfilling you could be doing?”

the answer, ultimately, will be “yes”, but the whole point of this exercise is that you MUST come to that conclusion yourself. don’t just take my word for it and go off into another round of “shoulding”.

relax completely.

be brutally honest with yourself.

this is the only way to escape the trap.

3. make a plan

if you keep meditating and contemplating you will purify your unwholesome tendencies and come to some deeper motivation.

as mentioned, mine was that i wanted to understand myself and reality.

once i realized this and freed myself of “shoulds” i was able to begin the process of redesigning my life around my true core values.

🔹i cut down on my work as a musician and music teacher
🔹i spent every moment i could on wisdom practice
🔹i realized the deepest truth of my nature and reality
🔹i then turned around and started teaching others how to do the same

that’s what brought me here.

it was a long transition, but last year i “freetired” myself at the age of 36.

being “freetired” means my life and work are so aligned with my core values that i’d be doing what i do each day even if i had a billion dollars in the bank. (i wrote about how you can do this ​here.​)

your life will likely be very different once you’re aligned with your genuine motivations, so you’re going to need a plan to get there.

maybe this plan will come all at once after reading this post.

maybe it’ll formulate over years like mine did.

but following it, like i did, will lead you to a life that’s best described as “heaven on earth”.

from here, new year’s resolutions look absurd.

why on earth would you ever need to put anything off till january 1st? if you’re genuinely motivated to do it, you’ll do it. and being aligned with your “deepest self”, your motivations arise naturally like the daffodils in spring.

those “shoulds” people shoved down your throat are a heavy burden. free of that burden, you’ll unlock energy you never could’ve imagined.

maybe that energy will get you to the gym, or flossing your teeth. maybe it won’t. maybe you’ll want to go hiking instead. maybe you’ll use interdentals. who f¥cking cares?

what i know for sure is you’ll be happier, more fulfilled and of greater benefit to others. not on the 1st of january but NOW. and really, that’s all that matters.

if you need help with all this

click here to have me design a personal program with my in-house neuropsychologist (based on the best of personal development, wisdom teachings and science).

and if you’re ready to turn around and start helping others, i’ll teach you how to make a living doing so (like i am for dozens of others in my role as a ​Kortex educator, working with Dan Koe).

that’s all for this week.

with love from my sofa,
dg 💙


² ​​


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