Be Honest: Are You Rejecting Yourself? (Why You Should Make Things)

Something unexpected happened recently. I started getting more visitors to my website from Google.

In fact, if you search the phrase “how to stop procrastinating” in Google right now, then you will probably see this article on the first page of results: How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2–Minute Rule”

Why am I telling you this? Because there is a much bigger lesson behind this silly search engine story.

I’m not a search engine master. I don’t know anybody at Google. And I certainly don’t have the world’s best ideas. The only reason my article ended up on the first page is because I chose to write something. In a broader sense, I chose to build something, to make something, and to share something.

Here’s why this is important…

The Steve Jobs Approach to Life

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.
—Steve Jobs

Pause for a moment and read that quote again.

Everything that you encounter on a daily basis was merely made up by good and well–meaning people who were just like you. This includes the products on supermarket shelves, the bestselling books in stores, the art in museums, the cars on roads, and even the search engine results in Google.

There’s nothing inherently “special” about the people who created these things. They didn’t have to pass some test of Ultimate Truth to verify that they were the right person for the job. They simply chose to build something.

You don’t need permission to create. You don’t need to be “gifted” or a “genius” or “brilliant” to contribute to the world around you — you just need to choose to build something.

The World Belongs to the Makers

The world belongs to the people who choose to make things. They create the environment that the rest of the world lives in.

  • One person writes a book. Thousands of people read it.
  • One person starts a business. Thousands of people buy from it.
  • One person programs a piece of software. Thousands of people use it.
  • One person takes a photo. Millions view it online.
  • Some guy named James writes on his tiny website. Thousands of people sign up for his email newsletter.

The people who are doing these things are no smarter than you, they simply decided to become a “Maker.” They decided to make a book or make a website or make a business or make art.

You can do the same thing! This is your invitation to join the party and make something yourself.

What if I Fail?

You may be wondering, “But what if I fail? What if people judge me? What if I make something that gets rejected?”

I hear you. I feel that way all the time. Hell, maybe this article will get rejected and people will hate it.

People who are Makers feel these same fears. They worry about rejection and battle uncertainty just like everyone else. The only difference is that Makers don’t let how they feel prevent them from sharing what they know.

But even more important to keep in mind is this: if you choose to create something, you’ve already won because you haven’t rejected yourself.

You have already won because you’ve battled the limiting beliefs and the self–doubt and the excuses like “I don’t have enough time or enough money or enough experience” and you found a way to make it through to the other side.

Yes, if you build something people might judge it or dislike it. But if you don’t create and share the things that you have inside of you, then you’ll commit the far worse crime of rejecting yourself.

Make a Habit of Making Things

Too many people die with their best ideas still inside of them.

Your legacy is what you share, not what you know or harbor within yourself. Unshared knowledge is like potential energy. It’s great to have, but it will never do anything unless you turn it into something else.

Turn your knowledge into a book. Turn your inspiration into art. Turn your words into music. Turn your ideas into a business. Build something. Write something. Create something.

From time to time, it’s great to sit back and enjoy other people’s work. I love reading a good book or buying a good meal or watching an incredible game just as much as anyone else.

But those passive activities are easy to do. What is more important is making a habit of stepping into the arena and playing the game instead of simply judging from the crowd. Make a habit of making things.

You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you. Your call.


  1. James, thank you for your article and your whole website really. This article in particular really spoke to me, because I literally just stumbled across your website yesterday when I typed in “how to stop procrastinating” in my Google search engine. Since then I have not been able to stop reading your myriad of articles that I feel are just speaking to me and have absolutely found me at the best possible time in my life. A time where I am making some serious life changes including, but not limited to, starting my own business. I have had an enormous amount of self doubt and have tried to talk myself out of these changes on a daily basis for years now. That is, I know, the first habit I will need to break. I thank you for your website and the thought that, it seems, you put into every article you write. You really are a Superhuman. Thanks!

    Oh, and your pictures are beautiful too! :-)

  2. Great article, James! It’s so true … I haven’t gotten my business to the point of what I would consider “successful”, but I’m working to make it better every day. Your article does inspire me to consider starting the business blog I’ve put off due to some of the fears you mention (and probably because I’m not sure that what I have to say matters). Perhaps I’ll just start the blog and whatever happens happens.


  3. James,

    That was a great post and I appreciate you “making” it and sharing it. Great motivation to stop thinking about things and start doing things.

    Keep’em coming, this is becoming one of my top visits every M/Th.


  4. Great post as usual, James. I was nodding in agreement as I read.

    And great timing too – this morning I was thinking about one of my dreams: composing soundtracks (it’s not a life goal, but a small dreams, sort of a “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” thing) and I realized that not knowing music theory or orchestration doesn’t mean that I can’t write my own songs :)

  5. Terrific article again. I have not looked at procrastination from this angle before, and I agree with you that we are rejecting ourselves before others even get a chance to! We shouldn’t be mean to others AND never to ourselves, because the more we reject ourselves, we will start feel like rejecting others. :) Thanks James, keep up the good work, it’s a pleasure to use your articles as an energy boost for my quests!


  6. “The world belongs to the people who choose to make things. They create the environment that the rest of the world lives in.” I love this! Thanks for the great article.

  7. I love your perspective. I’m so glad I found you; often I talk myself out of or procrastinate on things I should do. I have used your system of setting up habits and I can see the out come is big results. I am a Maker and now I have a system to move my ideas into the big bad world. Thanks again.

    Della Badart

  8. Hi James,

    Just dropping a quick note to say thanks for the article. Your article has always been of the inspiring and uplifting type, and it always make me think after reading.

    It’s funny how I was thinking that I want to improve my own writing from being more admonishing/lecturing type to being more inspiring and uplifting, and your essay pop up in my mail.

    Thanks again :)

  9. Thanks for the great post James :) it was terrific…… now I have started reading your articles regularly . Keep up the good work man.

    thanks again :)

  10. Create. Don’t Consume.

    Stick it everywhere in your house so this idea gets instilled in your head.

    Thanks James.

  11. I always remember what my favourite French writer once told me: there is a difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure comes from consuming. Happiness comes from creating. Apply this to anything, including relationships, and you see it’s right.

  12. Hi, enjoyed your blog.I just started a website that I’m trying to build with WordPress and hopefully I can get to your point one day. All the best.

  13. James, you are awesome!
    if you choose to create something, you’ve already won because you haven’t rejected yourself – this line goes stright to my wall in my room and in my office, so I will always remember.

    thank you again :)

  14. Awesome post! Love it! I shared it on facebook so that even more people can get inspired and motivated to be Makers and Creators!

  15. Love this article! it’s so inspiring, makes me feel like I should start following my passions and expressing my ideas more and not to worry about the people that will judge or think it’s silly, because someone, somewhere might find it interesting! Thanks so much, I look forward to your articles every week :)

  16. If you start something from scratch you will fail. Its a reality. If you get it right the first time, that’s luck or you are just some one really illuminated individual!

    If found out, very recently (trought this blog) some things that have helped me understand this (that you will fail):
    -The Journey is more important than the outcome (do not focus on results).
    -Why do you want to do it? How does it relate to the identity you want to create?
    -Focus on performance, not result

    PS: James, Been meaning to write since the first email I received from you. I love them. I found about you at the right time. Keep it up. There are many of “us” trying to make sense of our lives. Add your experience is very valuable. If you ever come to Perú, make sure to write.

  17. “You don’t need permission to create.”

    I think that sums up the whole article, and the reason most people are afraid to, or don’t contribute to the world. We worry so much of what others will think about our output that we seldom are able to enjoy the satisfaction it should bring us.

    Spot on again James, I’m really appreciative of every piece you write.


    • That’s exactly what I was thinking Anna. I have always had a feeling that I hold myself back almost like I’m waiting for someone else to give me permission to do what I want to do.

      James thanks so much for this post, you’ve really touched off something special.

  18. Your post reminded of my youngest son, a passionate soccer fan who has been writing a blog about the games and the teams he watches since he was 12 years old. His brother helped him set up his blog on WordPress but everything else has been his work. He’s been writing, often multiple times per week, for a few years now. Yes, he watches a bit too much soccer but he’s making something of it, improving his writing, critical thinking, and confidence in the process… And of course sharing his passion with others.

  19. Thank you so much! I really like your writing. But this article seems to be just perfet for what I’m going through right now. Its simple and extremely motivating. I have never looked at life in such way and I’m so grateful that now, thanks to you I can look at things from different perspective :)

    Have an awesome day Super Humans :)
    Sending positive vibes to all of you.

  20. Loved it. I thought about an image that sums up how you feel when you are poised to do that certain something that you love, love, love to do. I thought a picture (for in my head) would be worth a thousand words, I could use it to inspire myself. My image was of an otter that was sliding effortlessly and delightedly through the seaweed and snapping up fat fish here and there. Why? I don’t know, except that the image came in a flash like a waking dream, showing light, action, agility, intelligence, joy, and reward. That is sort of the definition of play. So now when I feel procrastination coming on I become “Otter Woman”!

  21. Thanks James for this excellent logic, the logic is clear and yet, I am not acting on things on want to do but I am not lazy, but I feel that I m lagging some direction to act and always thinking that I should have done that in the past, I wasted my years as I am getting old, even I am just 24, I m feeling that the things I have done should have been done in a different manner that I am realizing now , which gives me bitterness

  22. This is so uplifting. Feel the fear and do it anyways – all the greats were afraid too… Lately, for every endeavor I undertake, when I doubt myself and am second-guessing myself with a “Why me? Why would I succeed at this?” I counter ask “Why NOT me? Why wouldn’t I succeed at this?” Stuff is still scary, for sure, but regret, mediocrity, and settling is scarier.

  23. Thanks James. Great blog and thanks for the inspiration. Reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice: “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt!”

  24. Clear thinking has become my guiding star! I thank you particularly for your challenging & inspiring “Be Honest: Are You Rejecting Yourself?” blog. Not only do you provide inspiration and motivation in your posting, but your words have unleashed a welling waterfall of perceptive comments from your readers around the world. Those comments include this wonderfully pertinent quote from Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice: “Our doubts are traitors, that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt!”

  25. What a great post. This is indeed quite insightful James. I can relate this myself for being ignorant of my ability and have self-doubt to create something that worthwhile. Thankfully I’m currently start working on something which is develop my own App that will be used by thousands of people. No matter the result is, I will be proud of myself to able create something and hopefully touch as well give an enjoyable experience to others.

  26. Thank you for sharing this. It came in a period when I need encouragement to create and share with the world. Thank you again!!!

  27. You have a wonderful message here. I’m a person who LOVES to create – books and articles, educational products, even musical pieces – and put my creations out there for the benefit of others. Sometimes I struggle with doubts about whether I really have anything important to say, but then I think about others who’ve been successful and realize that they, too, started with only their ideas and the belief that others could benefit from them. :) Here’s to making the world a better place and inspiring others with our creations!

  28. This article woke me up from my stages to get through suicide. Some words are the ones that kept me alive during my suicides attempts. I thank you for this.

    And please don’t judge me. You don’t what I went through and you have no right to call me “emo”!

    • Raine, I am so sorry you had that experience, though grateful you survived it. I’ve been there myself and wouldn’t even wish it on an enemy. I came across a couple of sayings on Google+, both of which made a lot of sense to me and I thought might help you as well:

      1) When someone judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations and fears.


      2) Whenever someone undermines your dreams, predicts your doom, or criticizes you in any way, remember, they’re telling you their story, not yours.

      I have a couple outspoken, judgmental family members whom I love dearly, in spite of their tendency to criticize harshly “for my own good” – their claim, not mine. I find that by remembering the above sayings (and James’s wonderful articles) I am able to check my temper, and not take what they say personally. In fact, with practice, I’m becoming rather adept at seeing that they typically attack when they feel threatened by something I’ve done or said. These days, instead of becoming sad or angry and defensive, I’m able to outwardly smile and thank them for their input, while inwardly feel a bit sorry for the rut they seem to be stuck in. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that sometimes their comments weren’t completely wrong, even if their delivery was.

      I hope I never wallow in superiority, but I feel so much more free and alive than I did when I took what they said so much to heart. I only hope that some day they can conquer their own fears enough to finally allow their minds and lives to blossom and grow without the stultifying effects of judgment. Whether they do or don’t though is their choice. I’ve made mine.

  29. Wow, I just started my own blog and have been feeling vulnerable about getting my writing out there. I’m interested in much of the same things as you, and feel called to do it. I feel proud that I didn’t reject myself!

  30. Hi buddy, regards from México, you know something? I found your blog 3 weeks ago and I really enjoy every single feed on it, is like if you were talking about our single situation in our single day-to-day, keep making this which is great.

  31. Hi James. I just joined “The James Clear Community” recently. It has been amazing. What a source of positive energy. My new small (daily) habit: start my day with a little bit of James Clear caffeine. Thanks man. Keep writing away.

  32. If you are following your passion while making the world a better place, then you deserve to ignore all non-constructive criticism!

  33. “If you choose to create something, you’ve already won because you haven’t rejected yourself.” – James Clear.

    Mr. Clear, allow me to be very clear, you are truly a magnificent writer. I personally love your work, and I fell as though I am obliged to spread to word that there is a man who knows the secrets of how to make every day a winning day! I am merely writing this comment, in hopes that you will read it, and give me some feed back as to WHAT MAY I DO to benefit your success as YOU HAVE BENEFITED MINE!

    P.S. I will make it a habit to share your articles on Twitter.

    Thank you,
    Chris Ascencio

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