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It's Time To Move On

Ozan Varol is a wunderkind. 

At the age of 38 he’s lived many lives.

As a college student majoring in astrophysics at Cornell, he served on the operations team for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers project that sent two rovers–Spirit and Opportunity–to Mars. He then changed course and went to law school, graduating first in his class. In his twenties he became a law professor and then became the youngest tenured professor at Lewis & Clark Law School. He’s now a successful published author. 

I was interviewing him for our upcoming podcast coming out in August. What most impressed me though weren’t his credentials, as much as his approach to decision making.

A few weeks before we talked, Ozan had pivoted his life course once again. He left his tenured position to become a full time writer.

His colleagues thought he’d lost his mind for stepping away from academia. No one gives up the guarantee of a great salary and a reputable position that tenure provides. But Ozan understood what he was doing. It was a very calculated that he’d made several times in his life. 

This is how he explained his approach, “Much of the positive impact in my life has come from subtractions, not from additions. I’m more proud of the things that I stopped doing than the things that I have done...Adding is easy, but subtracting is hard—really hard. When we’ve invested time and resources into building something, the sunk-cost fallacy kicks in and prompts us to stay the course. We behave like a snake that stubbornly refuses to shed its old skin even as the new one emerges.”

Ozan had gotten what he needed out of being a law professor. He’d taught the classes he wanted to teach. His growth had capped. He was no longer learning or being challenged. He wanted to explore a new terrain.

He had done what so many of us are afraid to do... let go.

Even when we no longer enjoy a job, a relationship, or a place our instinct is to hold on. We’re afraid of uncertainty. We’re scared to know what happens if we leave. We worry that we’ll be judged or that we won’t survive.

Yet by clinging to our old skin we stunt our own development.

We miss out on the discovery of new possibilities, people and places.

We give up the opportunity of a full life that only subtraction can provide.

That’s why we must act on our intuition that tells us when it’s time to go.

We must gain the courage to say, “I’ve learned what I needed to. This no longer serves me. I can move on now.”

Because if we do this.

If we are willing to seek the discomfort of subtraction.

Then down the line we’ll never have to ask life’s most haunting question…

“What if?”



PS - Don’t forget that Seeker Day is coming on July 30th!! It’s the only sale we do every year. We're bringing back all the bestsellers at 30% off on It’s gonna be BANANAS. 

If you’ve ever wanted to get Seek Discomfort, this will be the time to do it :)

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  • I am reading these wise words almost three years after the time it was posted. Wow… I’ve been searching for different guides for this forest that I don’t quite understand. A core value of mine is to say “yes” and seek discomfort. I was broadly shaped by the Yes Movement as an adolescent and wish to continue the journey forward. I have challenges like any other person. Seeing things from different perspectives and more clearly helps me understand the forests that scare me. This piece of wisdom is absolutely shocking and gave me a warm buzz all over. Subtraction is inherently scary. I’ve worked hard for … I cant let go… Yet from this perspective it seems that is the snake talking, that which that doesn’t want to shed its skin. I can’t be stubborn. Discomfort, overcoming, and growth is my pride and joy. I will take these words of wisdom with me. Thank you Matt. Thank you Yes Theory. <3

    G4b3 on

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