11 Things I Learned In 2014

This is article #49 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: David Joyce)

Enter Stephen

This year I was lucky enough to be handed a megaphone to shout my opinions to thousands of women in the form of these weekly blog posts.

I knew taking this up was a risk, but I also knew I had to stretch myself: My three aims for the blog were simple:

1. Post every week.

2. Be original (or failing that, useful).

3. Don’t piss off Matt’s audience too much.

The first aim I achieved, despite being kicked off my usual spot for the odd week or two. The second two are for others to judge.

I’m sure there are those who wish it were Matt himself who would take on the task of sitting down to knock out an 800-word article every week, instead of his younger brother. To which I can only say, on my busier weeks, so do I.

And yet, aside from the occasional end-of-week panic for ideas, and my weird new quirk of bringing notepads with me on dates, writing this blog has made life immeasurably more fun.

At times I’ve scrolled to the bottom of one of my recent articles, especially those I thought controversial when I posted them, and breathed in deeply, expecting a shower of knives and blood.

Instead I’m always been pleasantly surprised by the warm bath of encouraging words about the piece, as well as thoughtful, intelligent and good-spirited debate – there are criticisms that make me think, and compliments that make me blush.

It’s as if the comments section is suddenly a friendly part of the Internet, a hangout populated by helpful contributors and friendly-faces (or screen-names, if you will), instead of the usual swarms of the perpetually outraged, eternally humourless, and clinically insane that usually crash the party down in the depths of your average wordpress blog.

Basically, I want to say thanks for being nice.

It’s been a hell of a 365 days here on planet earth. Thank you for spending 10 minutes of the 168 hours in your week to come on here and respond to anything I’ve written.

I can promise you I read and think about every comment, and will try to get back to as many as I can.

There’s just one thing left for me to do before we say goodbye to 2014: And that’s to figure out what the hell I learned from it all.

I’ll just leave it below.

Read it. Or don’t. You’ve probably done enough this year already anyway.

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In tribute to my very first blog post, I wanted to compare the lessons from 2014 to those I learnt in 2013 and see whether they were different.

Here are some of the best things I discovered:

1. Quantity is part of producing quality

Want to meet a great guy? Start by asking: What would I need to change in order to meet 10 new guys every week?

Sometimes increasing quantity increases quality by default.

I wrote nearly 50 articles for the blog this year. I feel truly proud of about 10-20% of those pieces. Put simply then, it takes a huge quantity of words and attempts to find something great.

There are a further 5-10 articles I never published, which I deemed too god-awful to ever be allowed out of the permanent prison of my hard drive.

I’ve seen this with novelists, entrepreneurs, inventors, designers, and musicians. You need to start doing a lot in order to get one result you really feel happy about.

So make sure you pick a passion you’re happy to spend a lot of time working on!

2. Ignore your gut at your own peril

If a decision (or lack of decision) makes your stomach turn over with fear that you might regret it later, it’s probably because you will.

I’m not talking about that sudden tingling feeling of nerves when you’re about to do something scary – that’s usually a sign that it’s going to be good for you.

I mean the gnawing gripe in that makes it hard for you to sleep at night, or the worrying thought that hovers over you all day. It usually means you have to address something. Now. Act on it.

Is it a phone call? A tough conversation? A piece of work you just won’t begin?

Do it now. You’ll feel instantly better.

3. Beware making a fetish of being a “success”

I heard several stories this year of ‘successful’ people who suffered spectacular crashes (many of their own making, some of plain old bad luck).

It reminded me of the words of Sophocles in Oedipus Rex:

Let no mortal be called happy until the final fated day when he has crossed life’s border without enduring pain.”

I would replace the word ‘happy’ here with ‘success’.

Success means an entire life well lived, not a temporary upswing in our fortunes. We might be a ‘success’ now, but that can change that at any moment. Empires can crumble in a week, and reputations destroyed in a day.

Never assume people make it to the top and just stay there. This should always make us wary of overly prizing temporary material ‘success’ as the definition of a life well-lived.

4. Saying “NO” is the easiest route to contentment

Saying “NO” saves your day.

It stops you spending precious energy on fruitless projects, or being tied up with those friends you secretly hate but only spend time with out of some misplaced sense of obligation.

Saying “NO” is the easiest way of purchasing your own freedom.

Saying YES to opportunities is great and will take you far, but saying NO guards the most precious resource you own: your time.

5. Being a good person takes planning

Good intentions are not enough.

For my first modest good act of 2015, I’ve scheduled myself to donate blood in January. I’ve also scheduled myself to give to a specific charity on a specified date. I’ve also scheduled when to buy family and friends presents, and thought about the kind of gifts I might want to give those I love.

Not exactly heroic deeds, but I know that if I don’t set time in my diary even these small acts of altruism, it’s all too easy to go on thinking of myself as a generous person without actually doing anything to show it.

6. Embracing your passions ALSO takes planning

I read 52 books this year. One for each week.

I know if I didn’t set myself this minimum I would have never reached this target, even though reading books is one of the things I love doing most in life.

Just because we’re passionate about an activity, doesn’t mean we will automatically find time for it. Place your passion projects in your weekly schedule as though they were just as important as everything else (because they are). Make appointments with yourself and stick to them.

7. Talent is 10% of success at best. The other 90% is progress.

Every day, all you have to do is wake up a fight against your own resistance.

If you can do that, you’ll be ahead of all the talented dreamers who imagine the great acts they could one day produce. Cherish and admire people who progress, not people with potential.

8. You cannot be creative without a routine

I used to be a manic night-owl. I would stay up obscenely late to finish tasks I could have gotten done earlier  had I just been more disciplined in the day.

This year, inspired by Jean Paul Sartre’s daily routine, I adopted the grown-up habit of getting to the desk at 9am and producing three good hours of work before lunch. Followed by two more hours after.

I used to pick my writing hours sporadically, and would always find myself producing less as a result. Once I had firm routines that were unshakeable (at least from Monday to Friday), I could rest easy knowing that, whatever else happened, the routine would work to get things done, and make me more creative as a result.

9. “Write what you care about/Write what you’re curious about” are as important as “write what you know”

Starting with your curiosity and care is more effective than starting just with what you know.

The articles and blogs I abandoned this year were those whose subject matter didn’t interest me. The best fuel you can have for pushing you forward and maintaining focus is a restless curiosity and emotional attachment to the work you’re doing. Keep fighting to do work that satisfies these desires and you’ll find productivity comes much easier.

10. Negative thoughts are underrated

“What’s the worst that could happen?” is a good question to regularly ask. Or: what would happen if I failed? The good news is, these questions often have the answer “not much” and serve as a greater spur to action than anything else.

Negative questions can either make you realise how little is at stake, or in other cases they can make you realise how terribly depressing the outcome is, and push you to act immediately to prevent the worst from happening. For example, I find asking myself: “How would I feel if I don’t change anything within the next year?” is usually enough to kick me into doing things today to prevent the agony of wasting 12 months standing still.

11. Don’t just love your partner, learn what makes them feel loved

Not everyone feels love in the same way.

Some people need to hear the right words. Others need physical touch and affection. Others need evidence of your investment and loyalty.

The best thing you can do for your relationship is realise that not everyone receives love in the same way. Resolve to make your partner feel loved, instead of just thinking that telling them is enough.

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There’s nothing left for me to do but wish you a Happy New Year, and another 365 days of mistakes to learn from. Thanks for sticking with me all this time!

Play them out keyboard cat!

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63 Replies to “11 Things I Learned In 2014”

  • Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for your weekly blogposts. Those, combined with Matt’s videos are constantly teaching us new things or reminding us of things we tend to forget/don’t (want to) think about on our own. ;)

    The both of you always come up with useful tips and give us things to think about – even if they sometimes aren’t fun to deal with.

    It’s great we get input from both of you. Please keep on writing the blog. Your articles are a good extension to your brother’s stories.

    Have a wonderful 2015, Stephen and Matthew!

  • “The gnawing gripe that makes it hard to sleep at night because you have to address something.” (#2) So on target for me. I had it and I addressed it last week. It was work-related. I got the victory at the end and the other person learned a lesson. So it was a good start to 2015 for me. My winning was about the winning of integrity. Everybody talks about it but not many people have it.

    I love all the ideas you listed in the article. So many good ideas. And they all relate to me and my life and interests. About being a night owl, I think it is something to do with people who think a lot. I don’t mean in it in the sense of worrying. I think people with improved emotional intelligence think a lot at night time. Sometimes I wake up around 4am because my mind is brewing like a coffee maker, and I just stare around to think. I have a restless soul syndrome. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep because of that but later I crash for a whole day or two to make up for it.

    How true is #11: “learn what makes them feel loved”. The ultimate solution. That way you also show them that you love them the way they are, not the way you want them to be. As Robert Frost said “we love the things we love for what they are.”

    I was going to say it is my kind of desk (in the pic) except it needs a cat on it getting in the way to finishing work, but then I saw the Keyboard Cat at the end. :) awww I want to smooch his tiny face off. :) meaw :)

    I found you guys only last September but I caught up with all the articles and videos in this blog. Thank you for creating a friendly atmosphere with your modest approach, Steve.

    Among all the great relationship advice you gave to the ladies in 2014, here is one I really like “It is not your job to make a guy see your great qualities, he needs to see it himself.” Absolutely. All women should stick by this rule.

    Looking forward to your new articles! xx

    1. Hi Kiraz,

      That means so much. I’m so flattered that you also went back and read the previous articles. So glad you felt they added value to your life.

      Keyboard Cat is in my top 3 Youtube videos of all time.

      Have the best 2015,

      Steve x

      1. Thank you, Steve. My cat Sushi is happy to hear that Keyboard Cat is in your top three. She is a very talented belly dancer herself, but she doesn’t let me film her. She only does private shows. :-P

        Not surprised you like Keyboard Cat. All the great writers, thinkers and philosophers in history loved cats. Cats represent freethinking, independence, honor, patience and elegance. I wouldn’t say all cat owners have these qualities (I wish), but people who have these qualities, especially free thinkers, have a special interest in cats. Please check out Cat Museum of San Francisco facebook page. You will see all the best writers’ pics with cats. I actually have a very good, detailed theory about people’s personalities and their favorite animals. It works every single time. It is something I’d like to share in person rather than here in text. On a side note, my favorite pic in Matthew’s instagram page is the one with the cat. :)

        Best xx

  • Happy New Year, Steve and all your readers!
    1. Your blog is tremendously helpful, in its own right. Please continue.
    2. In your item-4, you wrote “saying NO guards the most precious resource you own: your time;” and then in your item-9: “The articles and blogs I abandoned this year were those whose subject matter didn’t interest me.” Every once in a while, and particularly at the year end, I am purging blogs, email letter, and other activities that take my time. I have NEVER considered abandoning your blog. It’s a compliment.
    3. Even known facts require repetition, elaboration, random reminders, and new ways to look at them. In your today’s article, the item that clicked with me the most was #1, about the need for quantity in order to achieve quality.

    1. Hi Victoria,

      Thanks for not purging me! lol Really appreciate all your kind words and all the support.

      All best for 2015!

      Steve x

  • Hey Steve thank you for the blogs in 2014…i have loved them. I am so glad I came across matt last year, accidentally on YouTube.. Which lead me to your blogs subsequently ;)..

    You guys have been great inspiration and mentors for me… To bring positive changes in my life.

    Love you both
    Melbourne, Australia

  • Hi Steve,

    I have been your ‘Ninja’ reader for few months, secretly absorbed all your valuable thoughts, and haven’t left a footprint.

    Right now, reading this blog though, made me want to send you my gratitude and acknowledgement – it’s only fair this way to your effort for creating these blogs EVERY WEEK, and to all the values you brought into my life.

    Your blogs have been original, truth-telling, fun, insightful, touching, and most importantly, I can feel your genuineness and the fact that you care. In nowadays hook-up culture, and speedy lifestyle, all of these qualities became even more precious.

    I’m going to print your 11 lessons learnt and stick to my wall, and of course I’ll reflect again, and write up my own lessons learnt and behaviours I want to enhance in the new year.

    Happy Chinese New Year, and look forward to more of these from you.

    All the very best, Ling

  • Steve this was Awesome!! I loved what you shared about trying your best to be Useful and expecting a Shower of Blood and Knives at the end of the most Controversial Topics hahah. I agree that this Site has a great Intelligent and Classy Community feel to it and I really enjoy this place as a Playground Escape after a long day :0) Also, I thought you were the Older Brother for some reason!! Either way, the both of you make a Fantastic Complementary Team and it says a lot about you as a Brother with how diligently you’re supporting Matt with his Mission.

    Keep on sharing your Wonderful Golden Masterpieces, they’re so Nourishing and Nutritious and we can’t get the same Fix anywhere else!! <3

    Happy Chinese New Year Tambien,

    Miss Lisa!

  • Dear Keyboard Cat,

    I adore a good non sequitur. To Stephen: I think you’re getting kind, thoughtful, interesting, thought-provoking responses to your articles because if we were erratic, irrational, ditzy, spiteful women, we wouldn’t be single. I kid! Watermelon.


    1. Dear Shannon,

      Somewhere in a dimension not far away, you were awarded a prize for Most Efficiently Excellent Comment when you wrote this. Watermelon trophy?

      :) Emily

  • I just started reading this blog a couple of weeks ago, and have been clicking through the suggestions, only mildly compulsively, to read older posts without necessarily knowing when they’re from. I’ve enjoyed the random nature of that, but it’s nice to see this one set itself in context.

    Reading comments is something I usually avoid, mostly due to “the usual swarms of the perpetually outraged, eternally humourless, and clinically insane that usually crash the party” you so aptly characterize. They seem to show up everywhere there is a content box, no matter the content or quality of the site, and it makes it very hard to find the intelligent discussion when you’re forced to sift through piles of ignorant vitriolic sludge. But on this site, I’ve seen hardly any hate, mostly just massive loads of love—and you’re saying this is not because of some sludge-filter weeding out the advancing trolls and replacing them with kittens? You are doing something rare and magical! Long may peace reign.

    #6 Holy crap. Kudos on your booktasticity. I give myself reading goals but consistently fail to meet them, partly because I’m slow and partly cause other things get in the way. A book in a week is rare. But seeing your number makes me think that I need to pull up my socks for the rest of 2015. Thank you for setting the bar!

    #7 Have you read The War of Art? His big thing is resistance: it is everywhere and conquers all, if not beaten down. And your point here is exact and felicitous.

    #8 I can’t believe you’re halfway through your twenties and you’ve already cured yourself of night-owl-ness. (The Force is strong with this one.) Staying up too late (a good companion to procrastination) is the chronic condition I’ve had the hardest time battling, never mind eradicating (see #7).

    Did you ever read Beggars in Spain, by Nancy Kress? The Sleepless are people who are genetically disposed not to need sleep, with the surprising result that they are healthier, better-looking, more productive and smarter than normal humans. Their children are the Supersleepless: the exponential version of the parents. I’ve decided that you Husseys must be a version of the Supersleepless, which accounts for you being so insanely more prodigious than the unkempt masses.

  • It’s June… and yet here is my comment on a New Year post :)

    ‘permanent prison of my hard drive’ is an excellent, excellent phrase. I don’t always agree with your advice, but you are a good writer. Those 52 books you’ve read this year must have helped your pen. What’s the last one you’ve read? (I assume you are up to 22. of this year’s.)

  • I am sort of new to the GTG website offerings. But I’ve really enjoyed reading your posted Stephen. Their very insightful, and HELPFUL and often cause pangs of emotion. I hope you keep writing for us. And I hope you see this message cause I can’t believe you think we wish Matthew would write instead of you. Don’t say that. It’s a great feeling to have a band of brothers routing for us and supporting us and protecting us from the jerks around us and our own insecurities. <3 to you Stephen. Honestly, your posts haven gotten me through tough days.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I just read this an am so touched by your comment. It really does mean a lot. Thank you sincerely.


  • Grit and routine do give over-amplified rewards! An enormous thanks Stephen Hussey, always articulate, deliberate (no-fluff) insight.

  • “What is the best, that can happen if I do this?” I´ve been putting of auditioning for three months now, even though I planned starting in January. Simply because I kept focusing on what “What if they go wrong?” Now, with this new question in my mind I already feel more confident to tackle this next round of auditions. Thank you.

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