While I normally write for people who are interested in improving their lives, I’m aware that many are committed to the opposite path. These people deliberately decline steps that would lead to measurable improvements. They prefer that everything goes wrong — for as long as possible.
Sometimes they screw up and accidentally do something right. They’re usually able to sabotage these unwanted successes in short order, but they like it best when they can prevent these positive experiences from ever happening in the first place.
If you count yourself among this under-acknowledged and under-appreciated group, here are some suggestions for how you can do a better job of staving off success and ensuring absolute failure till you die.
Notice the paths that happy and successful people take, and avoid those paths. Favor the popular paths since those will help you achieve average results at best, and average results should safely prevent undesirable feelings of fulfillment. The best roads are those that leave you feeling like you’re walking in circles till you’re too tired to walk anymore and must retire. Roads that are flat or which slope downhill are often good choices, and they tend to satisfy the popularity requirement as well. Avoid any paths that lead over hills or near mountains; the elevated views are disturbing. Head towards terrain you dislike since it’s easier to hate your life when you hate your surroundings. If you can manage to get lost as well, that’s wonderful.
Take stock of which habits are creating the best results for you, and abandon them. Replace them with habits that ensure no forward progress. Even better are habits that cause backsliding. Watch lots of TV. Eat fast food. Avoid exercising. Make Facebooking the highlight of your day.
It’s important to live in a place that emanates a going-nowhere vibe. Look for spots that attract people with average or below average incomes, and favor surroundings that are so ugly, even Shakespeare would succumb to writer’s block. Live with people who will encourage you to take paths you clearly don’t want; living with your parents for as long as possible can be very helpful here.
Never take action when you can justify delay. Stay on the sidelines for as long as you can, and avoid the field for as long as possible. Be non-punctual. Eventually the opportunities will pass. There’s less pressure in showing up late since no one will expect much of you. If you act too soon, you’re risking success.
People are notoriously nosy, and sooner or later they’ll inquire about your plans. There’s an unfair assumption that everyone should be looking to improve their lives, so you’ll need to get good at deflecting their queries with false responses. When they eventually take note of your seeming lack of forward progress, put the blame on external factors such as the economy, how unfair your boss is, how unreasonable your ex was, etc. If you tell people the truth, they may try to motivate you to make some changes, and you definitely don’t want that.
Get up late if you feel best as an early riser, and drag yourself out of bed early if you feel best sleeping in late. Throughout the day, strive to do the opposite of whatever makes you feel happy and productive. Most people find it helpful to get a job doing work they dislike. This ensures that even if they manage to enjoy a nice morning and/or evening, the hours spent at work will drag the whole day down, ensuring an unpleasant overall experience.
String several wrong days in a row, and you can create a very mediocre week — perhaps even a downright bad week if you work at it. It’s important not to do anything genuinely restorative on the weekend — burn up the time with laziness, inactivity, and pointless entertainment as much as possible. You want to head into Monday morning feeling disempowered from the get-go. If you can manage to maintain feelings of stress, depression, or boredom throughout the whole week, you’re golden. Once you’re locked into such a pattern, don’t do anything to upset it.
Learn from other people’s failures, and copy them. Use methods that have proven ineffective in the past, ensuring that you’ll get similar lousy results. Look to your own past as well. Notice what has never worked for you, and keep doing it. If it didn’t work back then, it will continue not working today.
Don’t be too creative or try to innovate. Copy someone else’s technique if you can. Fitting in with the crowd is safer than standing out as a distinct individual. It’s easier to stave off success if you favor the popular techniques of the masses — don’t do anything too fancy. Style is too close to success.
Make sure the key ingredients you’re putting into your life don’t mix well together. Get a job that doesn’t pay enough to cover your expenses, so you can’t make ends meet. Get a relationship partner who can’t get along with your friends. Stock your kitchen with foods that keep you feeling slightly sick much of the time. Keep yourself off balance.
Disempower yourself by blaming your problems on your DNA. Let your genes serve as the ultimate limitation. Ignore the truth that your thoughts largely determine how your genes express themselves.
It’s hard to avoid setting goals altogether because part of your brain will want to fill this void. Keep this spot filled with analog pseudo-goals that will attach to your goal receptors and effectively block real goals from accidentally falling into place. These have been proven to work well: make more money, get a relationship, find a job, etc. The lack of specificity makes procrastination go down easier.
If you ever do get sucked into working on a goal, take the most circuitous route you can. Instead of starting a real business that provides value and makes money, keep yourself occupied with pointless busywork like fussing over the design of your logo and business cards. Switch projects frequently so that nothing ever ships. Create the illusion of progress without causing anything quantifiable to occur.
Create flawed plans to reach your goals, plans that any reasonably intelligent person would be able to poke full of holes. Be sure that at least one crucial step requires a horcrux.
Avoid becoming too good at anything. Skill is a recipe for success, so keep yourself as unskilled as possible. Avoid books, audio programs, seminars, and educated people. Your education ended a long time ago; don’t try to resurrect it. Let your unskilled hands fall further behind with each passing year.
Use a perspective that disempowers you. Rule out the angles that would make your problems look too easily solvable. If you blow problems out of proportion, it’s easier to stay stuck. If a problem looks too solvable, you might be tempted to actually solve it, and that’s only going to speed you along the path of success — bad idea!
Set goals that others expect you to achieve, even if you don’t really care about them. Surely everyone else is right, and you’re wrong, so get with the program and pretend you like it.
Ask questions that cannot possibly provide you with helpful answers, such as Why can I never get ahead? Why are people always mean to me? Why am I such a ‘fraidy cat all the time?
Now take those lame questions, and try to answer them anyway. Be as disempowering as you can. I can never get ahead because I’m stupid. People are mean to me because I’m a loser. I’m a ‘fraidy cat because I have no social skills, so I know I’ll embarrass myself as soon as I open my mouth.
March to the beat of someone else’s drum, never your own. The best advice for you to follow is that which comes from people who seem to care about you but who are too incompetent to know what they’re talking about. Seek health advice from overweight smokers. Consider money advice from people who can barely pay their own bills. Relatives are often great choices for this.
Hang out with disenchanted losers regularly, elevating them to buddy status. Better yet, swear loyalty to them as your peer group. If anyone shows the slightest hint of ambition or brilliance, accuse them of being crazy, and either numb them with sufficient quantities of alcohol, or boot them out of your tribe. Openly welcome new members who demonstrate their adeptness at sarcasm and who wield a video game collection that rivals your own.
Keep your vibe intentionally out of sync with happiness, success, and fulfillment. Visualize failure whenever you get a chance. When you feel pissed off, amplify it into rage. When you feel sad, feed the sadness into a mopey numbness that you can drag out for weeks. Worry a lot. Know that things are always going downhill for you.
Determine that you’ve consumed a sufficient number of venti lattes that your dormant psychic abilities must have finally awakened. Interpret every incoming text message as a sign that you’re on the right path, even though the only people who seem to care that you exist are just as lost as you are. Interpret the seeming lack of forward progress in any quantifiable areas of your life as spiritual growth. Inner growth is always invisible.
Be a hapless couch potato for 28 out of every 30 days who thinks that getting up at 7am is the height of ambition. Then follow it with a 48-hour mania spree where you tell everyone you can about an inspired idea you’re never going to implement. Blow your wad with excited talk once a month; then return to the cozy comfort of inaction.
You know you’re on track to misery when you listen to the overall song of your life, and all you can perceive is discordant noise where everything sounds like it’s out of tune. If something starts working, and you begin to hear something resembling music, then figure out what’s creating those nasty harmonies, and break it.
Wrong Too Long
If you’re already applying most of the above, then you shouldn’t have to worry about success, happiness, and fulfillment infecting your dreary existence. You can relax and coast to the coffin from here. Keep it up!
Incidentally, this post was inspired by the song “Wrong” by Depeche Mode. Watch the video on YouTube.