Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

When Life Hands You Lemons… Learn Alchemy

When life hands you lemons (courtesy of Richard X. Thripp)All too often, our circumstances are defined by what other people tell us is realistic or feasible.

The old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” is a perfect example of this paradigm.

What if I don’t like lemons?

What if I’m not in the mood for lemonade?

Too bad, the logic goes, those were the cards you were dealt. You’ll just have to make do with what you have.

Nope. Nuh-uh. Not any more. Not for me.

When life hands me lemons, I’m making orange juice.

In other words, I better learn alchemy, because I have some lemons that need to be turned in to oranges.

Isn’t it about time that we were a little more inventive and creative with our problem-solving? Let’s stop being reactive, and start being proactive.

Very rarely, in any given situation, is there only one way to work through a problem. As Seth Godin wrote in the book Linchpin, “There is no map.”

Most successful people, when they’re honest, are “making it up” as they go along. So, why do you have to play by the rules? Why do you have to conform to someone else’s standards?

Why do you have to make lemonade?

You don’t.

(Now, friends, I’m all for being realistic and persevering through difficult circumstances; all I’m asking you to do is not settle.)

Learn alchemy instead.

Photo credit: Richard X. Thripp

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Dan

    Spoken like a true orange afficianado.

    • Jeff Goins


  • Good word.

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Daniel!

  • Great advice! And when we’re working with the Great Alchemist, He can turn anything into OJ. Including wine. 😉

    Thanks for the link!


    • Jeff Goins

      Hah! Orange wine, eh? Hmmm… 🙂

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  • You know, sometimes its just exhilarating to “spit in the wind” and take a stand for what you want to see happen. Continued success Jeff (and *love* the new design).

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kevin! You’re right. There is something inherently life-giving about taking risks and bootstrapping… at least for those of us who were made to do it.

  • Great advice!

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Dustin! Appreciate you visiting my blog.

  • dad

    find a man who shoots from the hip and Ill show you a man who can do a lot with any thing hes handed…great site and nice layout…also what a great concert we saw …..

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, dad. It was fun. Hopefully, I’ll be writing a review on it soon.

  • I get it… Don’t give up. Don’t settle. Don’t stop at the first sign of difficulty. Use your God-given gifts and creativity.

    • Jeff Goins


  • Alan Robertson

    I like your proactive, make-another-option encouragement. I’m hearing this theme a lot: be bold, be focused, worship, launch, listen. Blessings, my friend.

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Alan. I like how you said it.

  • anne

    Lemons are still belongs to citric family