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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”

  • Loved having you a part of Matt’s blog, Stephen!! I was shocked there was 1 man out there who understood women, now there’s two! Amazing! I hope to see you make an appearance at the seminar in NYC in January! Thank you for all your wisdom! Also the part about success struck home, I have an issue with not feeling “successful” enough. Thank you for clearing that up for me and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xoxoxo

    1. Thanks Paula, really glad to have had people like you who made me feel so accepted when I started writing on here.

      Happy New Year,

      Steve x

  • A nice article Stephen. I’ve said before that I don’t think you should be referred to as ‘the brother’ but left to stand or fall based on the quality of your own writing and ideas. That makes this blog more authentic.

    Happy New Year!

  • I’ve always looked forward to the younger hussey’s post. I wouldn’t say I agree with everything he writes but some are really fantastic advice and they open my eyes, expand my world and change my mindset. Please continue writing. I hope I can meet the Hussey brothers and Jameson. Please come to Asia.

    1. Thank you Elisha. Really appreciate that you continue reading even when you don’t agree with everything. I hope this blog always provokes conversations and disagreements, as I think it’s healthier to have a lot of opinions in the mix.

      All best,

      Steve x

  • Thank you Stephen !!!
    You have started me thinking on what I have learnt in 2014.
    Happy new year 2015 :)
    Do continue your blogs :)

    The pleasure was all ours!!!
    I was so glad when you started to write articles for the blog and now 2014 is soon to be over, I can look back and see how much, the posts helped me in my life.

    A year ago, I was living in Paris with my parents and siblings. I was a young graduate from a Business School seeking for her first job in marketing of financial products. I had that student loan to pay back. Been single for more than a year and a half and I was not doing sport at all. My life was not well put together.

    Now, I live in Dublin:
    1) I remember that in the article named “Are You Taking Enough Small Risks?” U gave me great advice for the interviews I had for the job position I currently have. I am way wealthier and feel blessed to afford everything I need. I can spoil family, friends and travel a lot to visit them.
    2) I had the opportunity to meet your lovely family and the get the guy team at the live event in June 15 in Dublin and also meet at the event an amazing girl, which is still a good friend here.
    3) I have become an addict to the gym thanks to that post “How To Drag Yourself Out Of A Rut With Three Good Habits”(it’s a sweet drug I would say) and I received lots of compliments from family members last week during Christmas as I am BEAT! Feeling very great, lost a few pounds and very fit in my body = CONFIDENCE
    4) Discovered one of the best movie I have ever watched: BOYHOOD thanks to you.
    5) I am still single but I enjoy it, date myself, embrace my single life and know it’s a choice as I just haven’t met this great mate yet.

    It might be for next year…as “ordinary things done consistently produce extraordinary results.” I still try to meet 3 new people per week. I keep going out, working rooms and try to seize opportunities. “Pain of regret is always better than pain of rejection.”

    Thanks a lot and enjoy New Year Eve my dear Stephen!
    Btw, my favorite article is probably “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Attracting A Man Who Lives Up To Your High Standards” So insightful!!!
    I will keep rocking with you every Wednesdays in 2015, that’s for sure. ;-)

    1. That’s incredible Noemie, what an amazing year 2014 was for you. Hope the winning streak continues in 2015!

      I LOVE seeing how each article affected your life in different ways. That’s exactly who I want to read these pieces. Especially proud to see how you remember some of the older posts too, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me :)

      Thank you so much for all your support.


  • YES Stephen! No. 5 about being a good person taking planning really made me think, and something I will definitely take on board, as well as the regular schedule thing. That was a great post, I really look forward to reading more of your writing in 2015 – will you be at the London event in Jan? Hope to see you there! :)

    1. I’ll be there Teresa. Come say hi so I can give you a hug :)

      Thanks for the lovely compliment.

      Steve x

    1. For some reason it makes me really happy to hear that someone is reading from Morocco. Probably because I’ve been there and had such a good time. Thanks Assoumy! x

  • If you read all of the comments then read this one: I’ve been reading your articles since Matthew started posting them and I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that you are a great guy :). I’ve even noticed progress in your writing style and now it’s really really good. I also think that you are a very interesting person, but that’s just probably the power of being an introvert. We may not be the life of the party, but we’re capable of deep deliberation about the world and its careful observation and analysis. I can see that reflected in your writing. As an introvert myself, I can’t help but appreciate your articles. Btw, the last one with a narrative from your date was really cute ;). I look forward to reading more of your work in 2015! Happy New Year! :)

    Best wishes,

    1. I loved this comment, thanks Kaja. :) Especially for your lovely words about the writing. Yea, I’m always working on being a bit less introverted but I am totally a champion of the power of being more analytical and observant rather than always needing to speak the loudest in the room.

      Thank you for reading all this time. So happy you stuck around!

      Hope 2015 is great for you.

      Steve x

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

    Truer words never spoken! Above all, this is the one goal I have to work hardest to achieve. Thank you for all of your great advice and support. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the New Year!

    1. Thanks Leona. I’ve read and loved your comments over 2014. So kind of you to let me know your thoughts. Wishing you all the very best for this year. x

  • I have read all your post and You have inspired me a lot. I have started to “act”. I hope I can continue reading them this new year. You, Husseys are incredible.
    Have a fantastic New Years Eve and New Year!
    Regards from Spain.

  • Thank you so much, Stephen! I realized how much my life has changed since May, when I first stumbled upon GTG and Matt, and then subsequently your weekly blogs. I can’t tell you how many Wednesdays, I read your article, which helped me in some way, to work on something in my life!

    I still remember after reading one of you articles, I spent the weekend applying for a trauma counseling program ( which I had been talking about for years, but thought I wasn’t ready to do yet, or not good enough. ) Will be starting it in the new year, and have found a mentor who is willing to supervise me in my work place!! :)

    Things that were outside of my comfort zone somehow
    became possible, and I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to attend both a GTG event and a HVW retreat!!
    I am still a work in progress, but I have momentum and am actutally progressing in my goals!! An exciting and new concept for me, and one that I am not very familiar with, especially at the beginning of a new year!!! :)

    Please keep on writing!! I think you still have a lot to say and we are privileged to have access to another point of view and can only benefit from it even further!

    All the best to you and your family for the new year!!
    Warmest Regards,
    Shev XX

    1. I’m really touched by that, thank you Shev. It was a pleasure to get to know you on the retreat, and I really appreciate you taking time to encourage me on this blog. I know no-one is obliged to comment (especially with such lovely and kind words) so I am so grateful when people do. It means a lot.

      Love to hear that you applied the material in trauma counselling too. Keep up the great work.

      Stephen x

  • What a beautiful end of the year piece. What a wise friend we have here on the blog. I agree with Noemie’s comments below. There is so much practical things we can put into our lives from your writing. It is entertaining but a wealth of wisdom! What you say matters and it is making a difference. You really help people and I’m so moved by your work (the best and the worst). Please keep writing for us! and piss us off more this year. We can take it. Maybe, we can do a Q & A with you soon for the blog. Good to know you and Happy New Year!

    1. Hey Darla, thanks so much, really great to hear from you! Hope 2015 is amazing for you. Yes, a Q&A could be very cool idea :) x

  • Thanks Stephen for the interesting, and insightful articles I look forward to what you bring to us next in 2015. I have learned something from each article you have wrote and have also gotten a chuckle too. Next time though don’t say we are nice say we are kind cause I know what nice means lol!! I look at each year as a chapter to our book of life I am also curious as to what will be written next. Hope your success and growth is as prosperous as it was in 2014! Happy New Year Stephen!

    1. Haha I meant nice in the nice way, not the bad way! But fair point. So glad you enjoy the writing on here. Have the best New year Beth, and thanks for sticking around x

  • Stephen,
    I have found your down to earth comments very helpful and I love getting advice that I don’t have to be hounded to buy something with (sorry Matt :() We all need advice that uplifts and helps the most important things in our lives, our relationships. Some people will listen and do nothing, I have instead utilized what both you and your bro say and shared them with my boyfriend as well who also puts them into practice. As a woman, men can be an enigma but we are learning with yours, Matt’s, and others’ help!

    1. Thank you Lori – I really love hearing that people find the advice useful as well as entertaining. Your boyfriend is a very lucky man.

      Happy new year.

      Steve x

  • Hi, thanku for everything you’ve been writing this year. I was wondering if you could write something about anxiety and insecurities. To have the courage to live the life you want to live and how to care less about others opinion etc. I feel like I always let people down and dont live up to people’s expectations.Like I forget to do things for myself, I treat others with respect and understanding for their decisions but it’s like I don’t give myself the same respect.

    1. I’ll put in my ideas book, Lucy, and see if I have anything to say on it. Thanks for sharing. All the best!

      Stephen x

  • Hey that was an awsome thing I read:) Great tips and I was just starting my day for the fun year I resolved to successful at work and have lots of fun along my journey to make things happen. Thank you for the awsome things u shared and learnt to have a firm scheduled routine to be much productive.i felt the same recently.u helped me to deeply realise the fact.The question to ask..what can be the worst? Loved ur read. Great simple yet powerful ideas.;)

    1. Thank you neethu! Really glad you enjoyed the content and found it useful. Routine is the key – find one that works for you and keep at it! And yes, fun along the way matters more than anything.

      Have a lovely new year.

      Steve x

  • You have your own audience now Stephen. We’ve been with you all year because we love your style of writing and hugely enjoy reading your articles. You convey a gentleness and vulnerability so endearing, it’s lovely. I think that is why it’s such a friendly place! We get fed up of being constantly judged in life, it’s nice to have a space to go to. To read, think, contemplate and be inspired, motivated to actually instill habits to enrich our lives and make it better for everyone around us too. And to comment. Thank you for taking the time replying to our comments when you are clearly super busy, forging your own path in life. It’s very much appreciated and is why we all feel as though we know you a little. Even those of us not lucky enough to have met you.
    Wishing you a wonderful year 2015,
    Kathryn xx

    1. Thanks Kathryn! I’m always told I’m gentle and I’m never sure whether I like it or not. But if you think it’s lovely i’ll take it ;)

      You really made me feel supported and appreciated in 2014, so I’m really grateful you always came on the blog to tell me your thoughts about the articles. It really spurs me on to take risks when I’m nervous about publishing certain pieces.

      Have the best 2015, and thanks for everything.

      Stephen x

  • Hi Stephen,

    I want to thank you for all of your posts and for all of your responses to my comments. They have been immensely helpful to my understanding of men.

    So often I worry that my comments here are negative, when really I’m just puzzling through the differences between men and women.

    I now find myself on the verge of a new relationship. Dunno where it will go, if it will last. You know how these things are. But I have myself, my confidence, and some knowledge! Whatever happens, I’ll be okay. :-)

    Thanks so much and I look forward to reading your articles in 2015!

    1. Awesome, glad to hear it A. Don’t worry, I can take criticism and puzzlement now and then. It’s great when people air their thoughts on the articles.

      All the best for 2015 x

  • Dear Stephen

    I have thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs.Great tips and funny also. Please keep writing them!!!

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