How to Balance Ambition With the Desire For A Quiet Life

Todd Brison
Personal Growth
Published in
3 min readFeb 17, 2017


I’m going to break the number one rule of Internet tease writing by telling you my answer on the third line.

Here’s the way to balance ambition with a desire for a quiet life:

Do what fills your soul first.

Now, here’s why that is hard:

The message told on the Internet — be everywhere, get in front of people, show your face on every social media — is not one size fits all. We only see that message a lot because it comes from people who want to be everywhere, get in front of people, and show their face on every social media.

When I look back on my favorite days, I am in my office, writing, talking to nobody for large chunks of the day.

None of those things feel like work. Right now it’s just after 8:00 A.M. I have been up and thinking and writing since 5:30.

Talking to nobody is probably selfish, but I don’t care. I need the solitude.

The non-quiet stuff — the interviews, the marketing, the promotion, the podcasts — I see and feel the value very deeply. I know they are necessary.

But they do not fill my soul.

Success can become a cage just as quickly as failure. The difference? The success cage is harder to escape. You can fail 100,000 times in obscurity. You can succeed once and wake up to a new reality.

I hated routines for the longest time. They felt like cages. But as my ambitions grew, so too did my need for space and silence.

Until my emotional cup is full, I don’t do anything which feels like work. Here’s what that looks like these days:


Notice I didn’t say “every weekday.” When I quit sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday, here’s what happened:

  • I was much happier
  • Life felt much less rushed
  • I slept better than I had in my entire life
  • Monday was no longer a reset button

Every day.

(See also: Want to Be Successful? Stop Treating Weekends Like Mini Vacations)


This was my least favorite chore for the longest time.

“But I need that time to read and write! I need to do pushups! I need to make progress at the crack of dawn!”

Francis doesn’t care about any of that.

He cares about the most ordinary things — birds, squirrels, smells. Every fiber of his being cries- “Oh look at that! The sun rose again! Isn’t this exciting?”



Yes, it’s a pain to take 20 minutes and drive for fresh coffee.

Yes, it would be cheaper in bulk.

Yes, sometimes it’s below freezing.

Yes, I think it’s silly she gets iced coffee in February.

No, I don’t always feel like it.

Yes, it does remind me who I’m building a life for in the first place.


This might be my biggest non-negotiable when it comes to the creative process.

Every morning, I power up my computer, grab my own coffee, open Evernote, turn off the monitor, and then write for 7–15 minutes.

The blank monitor is key. Why would I need to see what I’m writing anyway? I know what I am trying to say. In this moment, I surgically remove The Bad Brain from my art and write.

Unfortunately, The Bad Brain will be back tomorrow. I have to kill it every day.

But that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

Find More Quiet

Like I said, I have to kill The Bad Brain every day. For that, I need a dedicated ritual, and SILENCE.

My personal practice to find both of these in a crazy world is something called “Microjournaling”

Check it out right here.

— TB