Sitting around in a dead-end job, wasting time on videogames and porn, in a relationship that blows, unfit and getting worse by the day, tasting the salty sodium tears.

Going nowhere. It’s said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. As far as I know you can’t get out of a grave. You can get out of a rut. There are two methods. Either you do it yourself or the universe will think up something for you. I’ve found that it’s better to get things moving on your own because the universe has a real fucked up sense of humor.

At the beginning of Pushing Rubber Downhill I was a young man going nowhere fast. I was in a rut and deeply unsatisfied with how my life was progressing. The way I got out was by going through a crisis. I met a girl, I became infatuated, I chased her on my old motorbike across the country to Sydney where she unceremoniously dumped me. Lost in a strange city with no idea what to do. Time to dig deep and discover resources that I didn’t know I had.

Crisis created.

The question is however, did I create the crisis or was it manufactured for me? A part of me would like to say that I created it, but another part of me has to admit that meeting that girl in the way I did, well, it screamed highly unusual. I suspect that the universe had a guiding hand. Let’s call it 50/50 and be done with it.

Think of a simple graph. A line that moves from left to right but is completely flat. Going nowhere. You want the line to go upwards, to show improvement, progression, change. You might think that the line just needs to go up but the truth is different.

To go up you need to go down.

Going down gives you the impetus you need to spring up to a higher level. It is the crisis in your life that creates the circumstances that force you to change. Which is why when you’re in the crisis, when you’re going down, it all feels like it’s going to shit. Because it is.

From the outside looking in the perception will be that not only are you not getting anywhere, you’re going backwards fast. Many of my friends at the time considered me mad for chasing a girl to the other side of the country. So not only do you have to put up with what seems like living in a downward spiral, your social group will helpfully tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

When you’re in your crisis it’s very confusing. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. Nothing ever makes sense when you’re in the middle of doing it. And the worst thing is that you don’t know the end-game. If you knew where this was getting you then you might be able to understand it in the moment. But maybe that’s the point. To really progress you have to break yourself and then put the pieces back together. Knowing where the journey was going would in effect negate the journey.

The trick is to say yes.

When presented with an opportunity or a different option most people play it safe. They say no. Saying no keeps you where you are. It might be an awful existence, but at least you know it. It’s comforting in its familiarity. Saying yes is a risk. Saying yes is a leap into the unknown with no real idea of what the outcome will be. There are no guarantees in life.

My book is about how to say yes. To yourself, to other people, and to opportunities. The first crisis I have is not the only one. I have others and some are worse than chasing a girl and getting dumped in a strange city.

So do you create your crisis or does the universe? Like I said, it’s a little of both. The universe creates it but you have to say yes and go with it. I didn’t have to chase the girl. I could have let her go and gone back to my existence. But here is the great danger.

Sooner or later, if you keep saying no to the helpful crises that get thrown your way, eventually you’ll get a crisis in which you have no say in the matter.

You don’t want to learn a lesson and make a life change by winding up in jail. But like I said, the universe has a twisted sense of humor. So learn to start saying yes.