Are you skeptic? Or are you creator?


Since I came to the US for my PhD, a lot of people started asking me about how I applied,searched, what was required and so on. Yesterday I talked to a friend about the process and she said: “Oh yes, the TOEFL. I would have to take TOEFL. Hmmmm…” I could sense hesitation and resistance in her tone. And I remembered myself at the same point. I was scared!

Many people told me: “TOEFL is really hard. It’s not the type of exam we got used to. Not everyone can pass it.” TOEFL was my Mount Everest. At certain point I started my prep, full of respect. It was not too bad. After a month or two I was ready and I passed TOEFL with an outstanding score.
Continue reading

How to start working on your big dreams


Have you ever wanted to run a marathon? That is a huge, scary goal. Thinking about it made you excited and then overwhelmed. So you decided not to do it. It’s 42 km. In your present shape, you could run 5 or 10 and that’s almost nothing.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument? Write a book? Lose 20 pounds? Change your diet? Learn a new skill? Have you ever dreamed big dreams and than gave up? Too much, too big, too uncertain…

Let me tell you, you are not the only one. Hell no. You and me and many others bitted the dust before. In this “Dream Big” era, we are kinda forced to raise the bar high. “Go big or go home,” some say. And we try but after the initial excitement, we give up, feeling overwhelmed and disappointed.

Giving up is not necessarily bad. You cannot do and have everything in your lifetime. Elimination is the key to success. Seth Godin wrote a book about it. Quiting can be gratifying and liberating. It is totally OK to give up on some dreams. (I gave up on marathons. Running is not my thing and it will require way too much will power. And that’s perfectly fine.)

However, giving up every single time and burring each and every dream is toxic. It harms your self esteem, your beliefs, your ability to see the infinite possibilities. It makes you skeptic and resentful. And dreams are important. Oh, so important.

We, human beings, are thriving when we are on a mission. We enjoy chasing our dreams and doing creative projects. So pick one dream, one mission, one idea. And ask yourself a Bombastic question:


This month we will have the cool topic MAGNIFYING GLASS. That is somewhat different than “Go big or go home” mindset. Today I am asking you: “What the smallest action that can bring you just a bit closer to your dream?” Make it as small and as ridiculous as possible.

If your dream is marathon, the smallest step could be to put on your running shoes and walk around the block. I know, it seems meaningless, but that’s how you beat the Resistance. Want to quit drinking sweet coffee? Today put just a half teaspoon less sugar then usually. Don’t cut it off completely. Small, subtle change is easy and feasible. After 1 month you will intake way less sugar. Then you can decrease the dose once again.

I oftentimes hear people (especially completely inactive people) saying that 15 minutes of exercises is totally beneath their dignity. “No, that doesn’t make any sense. I want to go to the gym and rock for two hours straight.” But if you are not able to make the initial effort to exercise for 15 minutes, two hours will never happen.

It would have been great if one day you decide to write a book and then sit and do it. Unfortunately, that is not the way the things will work. You will have to work slowly and persistently. Word after a word. But hey, why wouldn’t you write for 15 minutes today? It will get you closer to your book. In “The War of Art”, Pressfield mentions the story of Sylvester Stallone writing the script for Rocky in just 3 days. These types of stories are pernicious for young writers, because they provide a fake hope that big deeds come quickly and without persistence.

We live in the age of instant gratification. We got used to everything being one click away from us. 1-click ordering, 1 day shipping, wifi in airplanes. We cannot even watch a TV show every day at the same time, we pile up an entire season and we watch it however we want. (One episode a day? C’mon, that’s like nothing!) We forgot the value of persistence, diligence and consistent baby steps, day in, day out. Nothing valuable comes overnight. There are no shortcuts, quick fixes and magic pills.

We overestimate what we can do in a day and we underestimate what we can do in a year or in a life time. Don’t rush. Do teeny tiny, ridiculous action. Do it again tomorrow. And again and again. You will reach your goal faster than you thought. (And way faster than if you were sitting on the couch, eating chips, saying that 15 minutes of action is absolutely beneath your dignity.)

Life is rarely the sprint (except when you want to beat the procrastination) and most often the marathon. Consistent, baby steps, persistence and your “Why?” will take you everywhere.

Your turn. Jim Kwik uses the acronym HHH (Head- Heart- Hands) for quick learning. If you read this post (Head) and it resonated with you (Heart), you have to answer the question in the comments below (Hands). What is the smallest baby step that you will take today? Share it with me. And if you have a friend who has a dream but doesn’t know where to start, share this post with him or her.


Miss Strangelove

P. S. The Cookie of Wisdom: “The man who moves the mountain begins by carrying away the small stones.” Confucius  ((Tweet this!))

When you feel like flying….do this


Are you ready for the velocity? Are you ready for the catalysis? Are you ready for the JOY? Yes? Here you go!

Today invest your precious 20+ minutes to do a free writing exercise on a topic:


Forget excuses, limitations and obstacles. Forget about the lack of time and money. If you had everything you needed and my guaranty that you will succeed, what would you do? Would you really stay where you are? Would you ask for a raise or promotion? Would you even ask anyone for anything? Would you play your own game? Would you start your own crazy thing, your own revolution, your own tribe? Would you then try to find your creative genius? When you stop caring what will others think and what is the “logical next step”, what would you do? Remember, failure won’t happen.

At the first glance, this exercise will seem easy. With enough resources you might end up at Maldives, drinking mojitos untill the end of time. That’s why you have to write for 20 minutes. What will happen when you get tired of mojitos, partying and stretching on the beach? You will probably start your search. You will start wondering. You will help someone. Or you will create art. You might say “I love you”. Remember, failure is not an option.

There are a few takeaways you can get from this exercise.

First, you will remind yourself of your goals and dreams. If you don’t define them and remind yourself of them, they will stay out of reach. Your goals and dreams are first layer.

Second layer consists of…..obstacles. When you write what would you do without obstacles….you will realize that the greatest obstacle is……in your head. This exercise might force you to get out of your own way.

Third layer is action. How far away are your dreams? How impossible are they? Maybe there is little something you can do today to get on the right track. I bet there is. If you want to save world from hunger, make a sandwich to homeless in your street. ((Tweet this!)) If you want to publish a novel, write for 20 minutes today. ((Tweet this!))

Fourth layer: this exercise will prepare you to win the lottery. Research has shown that lottery winners end up in the same place where they were before in just couple of years. Don’t let this happen to you. Plan ahead. What does your soul wants? Think about it before you register your BMW.

Finally, the fifth layer is the layer of joy. This is not the writing exercise. This a flying lesson. ((Tweet this!)) 20 minutes long. Feel the wind in your hair. Breathe. Use your wings. I bet you will end this exercise with smile on your face. Which is good reason to give it a try.

Don’t wait any longer. Start your flying adventure right now. Write for 20 minutes. Longer if you enjoy the flight. Once you’re done, answer this question in the comments bellow: What is the craziest thing you would do if you knew that you can’t fail? I am looking forward to hear from you.

If you liked this flight lesson, share it with your friends who might also want to try.


Miss Strangelove

P. S. Cookie of Wisdom: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” James Mathew Barrie, “Peter Pan” ((Tweet this!))