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The Less You Need It, The More You Get It: A Lesson From Squirrel Wipe

Posted by on May 2, 2013 | 3 Comments

The older I get, the more I believe this statement rings true. Take any measurable variable. The more you need that particular thing, the less likely you are to get it. Stop needing something and it suddenly appears. The concept seems to work with just about anything- money, love, sex, potato salad… you name it.

Is it a real concept?

Who knows… it may just be an illusory correlation.

Still, this concept popped it in a peculiar fashion recently. I had been sitting on the more or less complete manuscript for “Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel” for about six months. I just didn’t have to motivation to go through the hoopla of publishing it. Eventually our lackadaisical income generation didn’t provide enough to keep us afloat, and the prospects of gainful employment were distant at best.

In desperation, I published it in a not-quite-complete ebook form, republished an edited version in other ebook formats, then published a printed version. It all went down over the course of about two weeks. The immediate rush of sales put enough food on the table to weather the critical situation.

Since those frantic weeks, things have settled down a bit. We’re slowly rebuilding our income generation and digging out of the hole, which caused me to more or less forget about the book. We’ve been focused on budgeting, searching for higher paying jobs, and plotting our future moves. I haven’t had a lot of time to do anything, including writing BRU posts.

A few days ago, I checked the sales data. I was shocked to see the book doing far better than anticipated. Based on the time frame, it’s doing better than The Barefoot Running Book did, which is surprising. I pimped that book hard for month after month. I wanted to get it out there. It was my tool to change the world.

Squirrel wipe? Not so much.

I wrote it because it amused me. What can I say- I like to offend stuffy folks. Sure, people could probably learn something, but it was more of a manifestation of my dumbassery than a manifesto.

In summary, Squirrel Wipe seems to be doing better because I didn’t need it to do well. It’s nice and all and will hopefully convince more people to stop taking running so seriously, which is cool.

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to apply this concept to more and more aspects of my life. It’s always worked out well.

Why exactly does it seem to work? Is it sort of like watching paint dry… the relative time passes more quickly when you’re not intensely monitoring something? Or is it like a weird self-fulfilling prophecy in reverse? Or could it be a strange form of seduction- pull away and others follow?

I’m curious- anyone else notice this phenomenon? Have a theories as to why it happens? Give some examples in the comments!


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  1. Sande
    May 8, 2013

    I feel like this is a case of ‘I want X, so I’m going to spend all my time thinking how I don’t have X.’ Its about what dialogue your inner thoughts take–either that you can never seem to get X though you want it really badly, or confidence that you have it or imagining you already have it. When I read the book The Secret it introduced me to the the notion that which direction our thoughts go–what we are actually repeating to ourselves in our minds–when we really want something has all the difference in whether we really get it. Maybe you had a lot of inner confidence about Squirrel Wipe that no matter what you’d probably sell a decent amount of copies. Whereas with Barefoot Running maybe your inner thoughts were of panic, why hasn’t it taken off, enough people weren’t buying it, etc.

  2. Jan
    May 2, 2013

    I applied for my dream job in January but they never called me. By March I had given up all hope and moved on – hurt but resigned. Great big “meh.” Then, in April, they called me. I interviewed. I got the job. Turns out they just moved slow. Yes. I believe meh is the key to happiness.

  3. StaceyLynn
    May 2, 2013

    When I’m working and I really really really need the income – not a tip to be found within 50 miles. when I’m good and not panicked about some bill that must be paid – they can’t throw money at me fast enough. Seems like the more I worry, the more I have to worry about. Things have a way or working out when I just relax and give up on the stress.