A Possible Way to Achieve All Your Goals: Capturing and Delivering Value at the Margin – Version 1.0 (alpha draft)

(This is super-intense and doesn’t take privilege into account, and life is hard, and everyone is fighting their private, terrible battles, and maybe this only works in first-world and zeroth-world countries, and maybe sometimes only rarely then. But “lots” of people do stuff like this, cf. lifestyle businesses and beyond. This is an insanely huge topic, and here is the first, meditationstuff spin on it.)

(Alpha draft: This is still terse and cryptic.)


Below I’ll be using extremely individualistic and agenty language. But, I want to first acknowledge the other side of this: Part of what you value probably includes fulfilling some of your duties, responsibilities, obligations, commitments, promises, etc., to some of the people, organizations, and institutions in your life. Integrating “agency” and “communion,” such that acts for the self and acts for others are in harmony, self and other in the same breath, the same stroke, is something that has no skill ceiling. There is no limit to how good you can get at that. And so we begin.


Consider what you

a) value [0]

as differentiated from

b) desires, urges, impulses, hopes, wishes, dreams, fantasies, goals,

additionally as opposed to

c) could-not-give-less-fucks and kill-it-with-fire.

Categories (a) and (b) tightly interact, e.g. desires probably have value more often than not, but the differences matter [1, 2]. You can consider what you value explicitly, e.g. with freewriting, and you should also devote or steal intermittent series of mind moments for implicitly exploring value and valuing amidst work and play. Continue to refine your understanding of value, forever; there is no skill ceiling for the understanding of value and for understanding what is valuable to you yourself.

(If exploring value is terrifying, agonizing, soul-rending, blank emptiness, etc., consider working with tools such as Focusing, IFS, Coherence Therapy, etc. [3])

Values! What is love, power, sex, intimacy, service, compassion, beauty, communion, connection, friendship, dignity, benevolence, adventure, competence, mastery, excitement, charity, mutuality, mutual self-determination, tolerance, compassion… on your own terms, in your own words, fuck everyone and everything else, motherfuckers?



Live your values, motherfucker; destroy everything in your path in the service of your values [4].



You will encounter obstacles. You will need to create and acquire things to overcome these obstacles (thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, habits, writing, artifacts, copyrights, systems, knowledge, knowhow, relationships, money, hilarity, capital).



Capture that value that you created in STEP THREE and deliver it, at marginal cost, for a fee [5].

For example, you get good at writing complete things, relatively clearly. And, as clearly as you can, in the time you have, you write up how you solved the thing you solved, in STEP THREE, in a slightly more general way, so that it’s useful to more people than just you. And then you figure out how to get it to people who actually want it, and you figure out how to get something back for doing it.

Or, you fucking love programming video games, and you manage to extract software libraries from your games, and you figure out to license those libraries.

Or, you write your brains out because you love it. And you figure out how to get paid for some of it.

Ok. I get it.

The stuff I’m describing above is brutal. No one might care about your self-help stuff. Or, if you do mind-numbing programming for the man, you don’t have anything left at the end of the day to do the programming you actually enjoy or that gets you what you want. And you can only write for yourself so much after a day of technical writing about process widgets.

The key here is the word “marginal.” Marginal means a little bit extra. You go just a little bit beyond.

In this case, you go just a little bit beyond aiming directly at your values, to capture some of that value for other people.

You were going to do the thing anyway, the actual thing that got your closer to what you want. You had to. Because you’re going after what you want. And then you do just a little bit more.

That is, you solve some problem, and overcome some obstacle, or you make just a little progress, and then here’s this little thing you learned or this little tool you sketched. And you try to capture some of the value of that at marginal cost, like write it up. Just a little bit more work.

And, at first, of course, it’s NOT just a little bit more work:

You DON’T “just” write something up, because writing is too slow (for you), or you have no idea how to generalize what you did into something more people would want, or you don’t have a distribution system like a blog that gets at least a little traffic from real people, or you don’t know how to market your little software tool, or cleaning up the software tool and sticking it on the web and supporting it would take infinite effort, or you do slap it all together, and it’s just shit, and you wasted all this time, and nobody cares.

So be strategic, make little bets [6], incrementally advance the possible and plan ahead as best you can. Be fucking smart. This is your fucking life and you’re probably going to die so figure out how to figure out your figuring out so you can figure out your shit at the maximal edge of your strategic intelligence.



Because here’s what starts to happen. These little (or big) things you’re attempting to create and deliver, they’re lit within with the afterglow of your deepest cares and concerns. What you’re trying to share, rough around the edges–at the very center, the very seed of it, is a really real solution to a really real problem, however narrow. It’s not bullshit. And the more you strike at the heart of your concerns, the heart of your values, what you really actually, truly, deeply want, eventually in the same breath, eventually by the same stroke, creating these solutions from your struggles, these solutions take on the shape of what you actually did in a purer, more general, more accessible, more externally valuable form. People will put up with a huge amount of rough-around-the-edges crap if it actually, really, truly strikes at solving a real problem [7]. And it did for you. And, at marginal cost to you, you’re trying to expand the breadth and span of your solution so that it solves more than just your problems.

And it takes many attempts and you have to be fucking smart about it, but it starts to happen.

I’m not just talking about self-help stuff, here. You solve more and more of your personal stuff, and you start to gaze more and more out upon the world, because the path to what you want is now more out there than in here. And the field of your abilities expands and expands, always orbiting the target of aiming precisely at what you most want, on your own terms, in your own words. And you achieve things, and because you achieve things, you become hungrier for ever more bigger and beautifuller [sic] things. What do you want? All of it. The moon, the stars, world peace, that epic sexual fantasy.

And here’s what happens, now, out in the world, the domain of service and business and politics and whatever, the shape of your values, out upon the world–

You see, what used to be a marginal cost, this challenging extra work to capture and deliver value, through practice, it asymptotically approaches effortless, easy, painless–especially when you’re getting everything else you want and need at the same time. You see, you can get so good that bang stuff out with half your brain because you have bigger fish to fry, and it’s good enough to get the job done because you’re just that good. People want it, people seek it out, seek you out, people pay money for it. Because you’re world-fucking-class at this thing that you’re not necessarily super into, or maybe you are, but, in any case, it’s so quick and painless and it helps people; it just makes everything better, it makes the world turn more smoothly, in accordance with your values, and that feels good.

There is no skill limit to maximizing captured and delivered value while minimizing marginal cost. You can get better at this forever; the skill ceiling is at infinity, for less and less marginal cost to you, for greater and greater value to other people. There is no earthly limit as to how good you can get at this.

And the more value you create and deliver, to people who actually want it, the more you are renumerated without hardship to those who renumerate you, if you’re smart about it, and you can give away more and more for free because you care, if you’re into that sort of thing (and I hope you are).


STEP SIX (actually concurrent with all the others)

And, you get better and better at predicting what tools you’re going to need to create for yourself and when you’re going to need to create them: days out, weeks out, months out, years out. And, you get better and better at discerning what people want and need. And, you work to shape your value capturing–remember, at the margin of what you’re after for yourself, on your terms–in collaboration with other people, to give them what they want and to get what you want from them. And now you have allies.

And, the better you pick and coordinate with your allies, the more you can reduce the friction between what you want and what your allies want, such that the overlap between what you wanted to do anyway and how you can help your allies overlaps more and more. (No skill ceiling on this.)

And the overlap might never be perfect, but then everybody’s just doing this relatively painless, marginal, edge stuff that’s no problem for them and aiming at interrelated things overall, and of course lots of your values need other people (service, intimacy, connection, mutuality, group sex, megaprojects), and everyone’s enacting and expressing and fulfilling their values with and through each other.



  1. Know your values and know what’s gently fucking stupid (to you, you arrogant fuckface).
  2. Go after precisely what you want, all at once.
  3. Get stuck. Get unstuck.
  4. Put in a little extra effort to capture the essence of getting unstuck, and figure out how to get something back for doing that.
  5. At first it’s not just a little extra effort. So you practice until it is.
  6. You learn to predict what value you’ll capture and who will want it and what you’ll get back. And now you have allies.




[0] or what’s important to you, or what’s of (ultimate) concern

[1] “Discipline is remembering what you want.” http://deep.design/design-like-an-astronaut/

[2] The first few pages of this paper make it seem like it won’t be useful at all. And the whole paper is written in an older, challenging style. But, it powerfully and systematically explores the distinctions and interrelationships between value and desire.

Watson, Gary. “Free agency.” The Journal of Philosophy (1975): 205-220.


[3] https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/?s=focusing+IFS+coherence+therapy

[4] Alternatively, live Your Life as Art. (The book is… ok. The message is great.) Your Life as Art by Robert Fritz. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-Art-Robert-Fritz/dp/0972553606/

[5] http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/12/how-to-make-lots-of-money-during-a-recession/

[6] Sims, Peter. Little bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries. Simon and Schuster, 2013.


[7] http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2011/02/completion-vs-perfection/


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