top of page

COLUMN - "Don't Ask Brian: Progress does not require self-loathing"

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

By Brian Mickelson - Jan. 9, 2020

You’re lucky. Just prior to writing this “introductory” article I dreamed that I had already written the article and that the main focus of my writing was disc golf and bird-watching. When I woke up, I thought, “This is a pretty boring article about two things no one cares about, but it’s done and I’m turning it in.” You were almost reading an article about disc golf and birding.

I’ll try not to do that to you.

I’m so thrilled to be writing again. I’m happy to be writing to a local audience as well as so many who have left our valley but still (digitally) check back in with us every once in a while. Years ago I wrote a local humor column and I’m really glad to be back.

As far as introducing this column and my style, let’s start with what you’re not going to read about. You won’t see much about politics or religion I suppose (no one wants to discuss either with me). This won’t be a humor column like my last stint (at least not exclusively). And it won’t be a “what’s happening in Box Elder County” column (I don’t even know where my kids are most of the time so I’m sure I don’t know what’s going on with the neighbors). I’ll avoid each of those paths.

Before I explain what you will find in this column, how about this: I kind of wish this was an “Ask Brian” column. I don’t think it would fly because I’m not an expert on anything, even things I’m supposed to be an expert on. Ideally you’d send in serious, thoughtful questions about your life and I’d come up with some kind of sarcastic and witty answer.

That answer would be posted here the following week and then I’d spend the week worrying that I had hurt your feelings, so I’d avoid you in town. And although that would be anxiety-producing for me, I’d do it again the following week because I lack self-discipline, and, after many weeks and almost endless complaints, The Valley Headliner,, would have to give me a pink slip. So I’ll avoid that path as well.

I think this column will be a smorgasbord. I like humor, so we’ll do some of that. I do like disc golf and bird-watching, so you might get a few words on those (I’m sorry in advance). I lived through the 80s so I’m guessing you’ll learn a little about that decade and what I was like with a mullet. I read a lot about habits, goals, effectiveness, efficiency, relationships, learning, systems, and self-improvement. And although my wife is rolling her eyes as she reads this (if she reads this), I may write a little about those topics, with just a smidge of sarcasm and a pinch of hypocrisy. I love family history and photography, so those are options. Finally, as per my personal wishes, go ahead and “ask Brian.” I take requests.

Alright, I’ll end with something useful. Thanksgiving is enjoyable (unless you’re in charge of the turkey) and Christmas is wonderful (unless you’re in charge of the budget), but then the end of 2019 will bring this chance to write down (and post to Facebook, of course) some goals based on what about you makes you feel bad. That’s a cheerful way to bring in the new year.

Think of it: Many people will start 2020 by taking inventory about what they really don’t like about themselves in order to motivate themselves to change. I guess we kind of feel like feeling really bad first so that we’ll stick to the treadmill or budget. Exhausting.

I subscribe to a short and well-written weekly newsletter written by Atomic Habits author, James Clear. He recently wrote, “My wife shared a bit of wisdom with me recently, and I’d like to pass it along to you today. You can be happy with who you are and still want to be better. You can love your body and still want to improve it. You can appreciate your financial state and still want to improve it. Progress does not require self-loathing. You can feel successful along the way.”

“Progress does not require self-loathing.” Rather than even subconsciously making a list of what is terrible about yourself, choose a few things about your life that could be even better. Describe and celebrate what is already going well in that area and then create a plan or system for improvement that is realistic and detailed.

Share that plan and your enthusiasm with someone who already wants you to succeed, and then get to work. Starting off with self-loathing won’t do much for you, but a little desire, a plan, and a supportive tribe will work wonders in 2020.

Welcome to “Don’t Ask Brian” and The Valley Headliner, You’re going to love it here.


bottom of page