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Mental Mastery: (No Rating)

Mental Mastery by Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To Be Rich): Summary & Review 

Mental Mastery is a 4-module online course on the psychology of top performers in which Ramit Sethi, the course instructor, teaches how to start and finish every day confident, focused, motivated, and optimistic.

Bullet Summary

  • Module 1: Unstoppable Motivation
  • Module 2: Unshakeable Confidence
  • Module 3: Unwavering Focus
  • Module 4: Unbeatable Optimism

Full Summary

About The Professor: Ramit Sethi is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Over 1,000,000 people read his material to learn how to use psychology and systems to live a Rich Life. That could mean automating your finances, making more money, finding your dream job, starting an online business, or mastering your inner psychology.

Module 1: Unstoppable Motivation

#1: The lie about motivation

“A lot of people think that motivation comes from having solved the great mysteries in life—finding your true purpose...I think that [a] vision is often in the clouds. It’s high level. But, sometimes, our day-to-day motivations are what I call ‘down in the street’.”

In other words, find what excites you—perhaps something that excites you within what you’re unmotivated to do—and then use that as a motivator for right now.

“Before, you were asking yourself, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ ...But, instead, you can just ask yourself, ‘What am I gonna do that’s gonna get me excited right now?’”

This is similar to the recommendation of entrepreneur Peter Voogd, who recommends doing your best to plan out your entire week on Sunday and then creating something exciting to look forward to within that upcoming week.

Yet, this is also the reverse approach of Kevin Dutton (see The Good Psychopath’s Guide). His recommendation is to search and identify the elements of your work that are unexciting. Then, strategize ways to reduce and work through them.

#2: How to get out of your own head

In a nutshell, take more swings.

“Order the cheeseburger. And, if you don’t like it, get the salmon [instead of remaining in your head about which one to order]...most people are so afraid of making mistakes—of striking out—that they don’t do anything at all. But, the best people know that nothing is guaranteed to work. So, instead of trying to hit a home-run every time, they take a lot of swings.”

And, this is the philosophy that inspired Sethi’s book-buying rule:

Ramit's Book-Buying Rule: “If you're ‘thinking about’ buying a book, just buy it. Don't waste 5 secs debating. Even 1 idea makes it worth it.”

To continue on Sethi’s point here, he says, “Instead of worrying about whether or not something will succeed, you gotta accept that some things just won’t work out. That’s fine. You have options. You have a plan ‘b’.”

#3: The secret to hard work

The secret to winning is to enter competitions where your competitors are easy to beat.

That’s why top performers go a little bit harder every day so that their daily “competitions” are easy. 

All of the little pushes forward that they put themselves through accumulate to make competitions that are hard for others easy for them.

So, the secret to hard work is to do what top performers do: push yourself a little bit harder every day.

#4: A “kick in the ass” from Ramit

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what could be done today.” 

And, train yourself to push yourself the same way that you would push someone else if you wanted to bring out their best.

Module 2: Unshakeable Confidence

#1: How to manage your inner critic

The common advice is to silence and quiet down your inner critics. 

Instead, build the skills you need to manage them.

  • Negative self-talk is self-centeredness because, at its core, the inner critic comes from thinking “it’s all about you”.
  • Refocus to an outside, more emotionally-detached perspective. Ramit calls it going “from internal to external”
  • When your inner critic begins to talk, instead of focusing on “me, me, me”, focus on the people who need your help.

One example of how to put this mindset shift to good use is if you’re giving a presentation. Your inner critic could be focusing your attention on all of your insecurities. During the presentation, your head might be filled with negative thoughts. 

So, instead, remind yourself that your presentation is going to change the audience’s lives for the better.

Another way of looking at this is: 

  • “If your friend asked for your help and came to you looking for an answer to a question—and you knew the answer—would your inner critic stop you from helping?” 

Take your inner critic (which is internally focused) and focus on helping someone else (which is externally focused).

#2: How to overcome your fear of failure

The short answer is, “Trust your legs.”

  • “‘Trust your legs’ means that, at this point, you’ve done all of the hard work. You’ve put the time in preparing. Now, it’s time to trust that your work is going to pay off.” 

So, trusting your legs is about focusing on all of the reasons that you’re prepared enough to succeed. And, in the end, trusting that you’re now able to give your all to your pursuit by trusting that prior preparation.

For clarification, this doesn’t mean “trust that you’ll win”. It means, “Trust that you’ve done all of the preparation, training, and growth necessary to do your best to win.”

#3: How to develop natural confidence

One way is to role-play as a confident person or as the confident person you imagine that you want to be. Your confident behavior will influence your attitude (see “congruent attitudes”).

The external will influence the internal.

#4: How to develop confident decision-making

The more you move up and become more successful, the more you have to rely on your intuition because things aren’t always going to be black and white.

  • Not all decisions can be made based on data. Sometimes, it’s best to “trust your gut” (i.e. trust your intuition).
  • Make sure to trust your intuition in the areas where you know your intuition is often accurate. In cases or areas where your intuition is often inaccurate, develop your intuition by practicing using it.

Part 3: Unwavering Focus

#1: Productivity myths

  • “Inbox Zero” isn’t as productive as you might think and could reduce life satisfaction if you prioritize it over other things that matter to you (e.g. "I can’t play with my kids until my inbox has every email taken care of").
  • There is no “one size fits all” approach to productivity. In truth, what works for someone else might not work for you, and vice-versa.
  • Done is better than perfect. And, being efficient is better than being 100% clean. If you can still take action and it works, it’s OK if it’s a little messy (this applies to your work environment, productivity process, and so on).

#1.2: Productivity solution

  • Shift your focus from “productivity” to impact. If it works for you (if you get things done doing it), stick with it.

#2: How to overcome analysis paralysis

Introducing: the “1, 2, 3, ALL-IN” approach.

  1. Make a list of your options. Detail and outline every decision you could possibly make.
  2. Force yourself to narrow it down to three options. (If you’re stuck on this step, ask yourself, “If I were to fast forward six months or 12 months [from now] and write one paragraph about one thing I accomplished, what’s the one [biggest] thing I want to [be able to] say [that I did]?”)
  3. Take action on option one—the first in your list of three.
  4. If option one didn’t work out, move on to option two.
  5. Continue down the list in this fashion until you land on the option that works.

#3: How to fix your social media addiction

  • Make it inconvenient (e.g. delete the app which forces you to use your phone’s less user-friendly internet browser)
  • Set boundaries (e.g. at dinner time, set a rule that phones must be off for one hour and you have to communicate face-to-face for that hour)
  • Go nuclear (e.g. delete and block all social media so it’s completely inaccessible)

Ramit notes that when one waits until they’ve been overcome with an urge from their addiction to make a habit change, they often think less logically in that moment and will repeat their negative habit out of that emotional urge.

So, prepare in advance by making your decisions for habit change when you’re at your best.

#4: How to set boundaries and say “no”

The mindset here is, “Your problem is not my problem.”

And, a way to use this mindset with more positive sentence structure is, “Your problem is your problem and my problem is my problem.”

On this mindset that Ramit recommends, he says, “I don’t do it [hold this mindset] to be mean. I do it to focus on the important problems I care about.”

  • “...most people jump to the conclusion that you have to be rude to say ‘no’. But, there’s nothing rude or selfish about setting boundaries…[be] very polite.” 
  • “This also doesn’t mean you have to say ‘no’ to everything. Maybe you like cooking dinner for your family every night. Or, you want to talk to your friend about their relationship. These aren’t problems, they’re opportunities.”

Another mindset here is, “My time is mine. The world will always want a piece of it, especially the more successful I get. So, (only) I get to decide how I want to spend it.”

#5: How to get back on track when you get distracted 

“In psychology, they actually call this ‘the what the hell effect’. It’s just like when people go on a diet. Things are going great, you slip up, you have one piece of cake, suddenly you go, ‘Well, there goes my diet for the day. So, what the hell, might as well just eat the entire cake, and this pizza, and these cookies...”

The mindset shift that Ramit recommends here is “getting distracted is human nature (it’s normal)”.

“Top performers do not deny that getting distracted is going to happen and then build an overly optimistic plan around ‘no distractions’ (i.e. distractions never happening). They instead accept that they're going to get distracted and they don’t beat themselves up when it happens.” 

One strategy that Ramit recommends for dealing with distractions is to build a buffer into your day.

Ramit: “I make sure that I intentionally leave a couple of hours every Wednesday and Friday so that I can play catch-up when I do fall off track. Not ‘if’, but when because every week it happens. I actually feel so strongly about this that we’ve instituted a company-wide policy of no-meeting Wednesdays so everyone has buffer time to catch up on work and do deep introspective work during the week.”

And, one final strategy for dealing with distractions:

Ramit: “The other thing I do to deal with distractions is I just let it happen. I indulge it sometimes actually.”

So, instead of “pushing through” all of the resistance, sometimes indulge the distraction, and then refocus. 

Ramit equates this to the oak tree that tries to push through the storm and gets uprooted as opposed to the reed that blows in the storm's wind, adapts, and sways with the storm to remain grounded.


A few gems here and there, yet some were more effective in theory than in practice. 

Ultimate Power still holds the top spot for mastering one’s psychology. And, given the price difference between the two products, I can’t help but knock this course down a couple stars for its lack of truly transformative material.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Thank you so much for this, Ali!

I added it to the resources reviews page.

You can search for your name there, and anything you reviewed and wish to amend, just let me know.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
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Cool, got it.

By the way, I prefer to go by "Ali Scarlett" here at TPM (my full name's used there in the resources reviews page).

And, small typo, you can change "(610)" to "(6/10)".

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Small note: I know the (6/10) is an estimate based on this review.

But, if I had to give a rating, it would be closer to (5/10). I personally feel that:

  • It could've been a 6/10 if it mentioned the antifragile ego
  • It could've been a 7/10 or 8/10 if the strategies were more effective when I applied them (perhaps I'll share those experiences in my journal)
  • It could've been a 9/10 or 10/10 if the course was more well-rounded as with Ultimate Power (for a course called "Mental Mastery", it felt too much like it only scratched the surface)
Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you Ali, updated it.

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