This article started off as an email that Kingshuk Mukherjee wrote for my Unmistakable Creative newsletter. Multiple people asked for it in an article, so here it is in expanded form. - Srini
What follows are my 5 immutable rules for a terrible, no good, deeply unfulfilling 2019. Follow these rules and I guarantee you misery. Here's to your misfortune.
1. Keep yourself distracted.
The goal is not long term success, but short term comfort through avoidance. To this end, make sure your phone & computer are set up to always grab your attention. Read online news regularly.
Have push notifications activated so you can import cherry-picked disasters from far away places directly into your head. Concern yourself with the affairs of people who don't know you exist, especially those the media puts in front of you.
Have your shows and social media going while getting work done. Ignore the data that says the vast majority of people can't multitask- you're definitely an exception 🙂
Carry a screen with you at all times. The bed, bathroom, work, dates...and bury your head into it at the slightest hint of boredom or awkwardness. This creates a habit of avoiding any potential discomfort and is incredibly effective for killing any chance of personal & professional growth.
Having this mindless, reactive consumption as a default mode guarantees you won't ever contemplate where you're headed in life, and will keep you from ever creating anything meaningful.
You can't create if your constantly consuming, after all. Perfect for stagnating!
2. Prioritize everyone & everything else.
The first part of this is to make sure you prioritize everyone else's plans for your time. Having time for your self is overrated. Use your best hours for other people's projects and obligations. Tackle other people's emergencies and "urgent" tasks over what's important. Say yes to everything you're offered. Don't forget to binge on shows and social- those take priority. Your own projects and desires can wait. After all, you've got decades of time to burn. Probably.
Ok, part 2- Make sure you prioritize everyone else's opinions and thoughts over your own. Your mental real-estate should be sold to the lowest bidder. Parrot and re-quote everything you see and read. Wear the brands and follow the trends. But under no circumstances are you to entertain your own opinions and ideas. Definitely second guess yourself for having ideas that don't fit the narrative. Don't come to your own conclusions. Let them decide for you.
3. Have many projects but don't commit to any of them.
In the rare event you find some regular free time, have many creative projects. Write, paint, run, lift weights, take photographs, start a business. But don't commit or follow through on any of them.
Stick around long enough to spend weeks researching gear & spend a small fortune on it, but make it easy to quit as soon as things get a little difficult, inconvenient, confusing, or boring. Remember to stay distracted (rule 1) so it's easy to watch a show or hop on your phone instead of working on a project. Repeat the cycle on a new hobby.
You'll know you're doing this correctly if you accumulate a ton of gear over the years, but marginal skillsets to go with your stuff. That's exactly what you want.
4. Set ambitious goals with no timelines or consequences
It's nice to think about the finish line that you'll reach "someday." It's comfortable to dream about and feels great without having to lift a finger! And it's easy to defer- you can always say you'll start later because there's no timeline.
Because it feels so good with no effort, I recommend you stay in this dreaming phase. Here are some examples of how to do this. Always say-
"I'm starting a business" instead of working on it to the point of running the business.
"I'm thinking about writing a new book" instead of writing every day.
"I'm going to run a 5k" instead of signing up for a 5k and publicly posting it on social. That would be difficult to back out of and potentially involves running- let's avoid that.
Another good tactic for indefinitely deferring action is to research endlessly. Read all the books, watch all the YouTube videos, take all the courses, read the blogs. Take a ton of notes.
Do everything except work on the task at hand. Remember, you only move closer to your goals if you work towards them daily. We don't want that.
All we care about is feeling safe & comfortable now in the short term, while feeling good about our intentions. This is not about committing to anything or holding yourself accountable. Which brings us to...
5. Nothing is your responsibility, nothing is your fault.
Poor, poor you. Life has dealt you a bad hand and other people have it way easier than you. Of course they can start businesses and run marathons. They don't know what it's like to be you. It's not your fault. You are 100% the victim here, and you are definitely more oppressed than them.
Shift all blame to others and shun all responsibility. Do not hold yourself accountable and avoid scrutiny by vilifying those who have it better than you. It's their fault you feel this way. It's their fault you're in this situation.
For a while at least, this line of thinking will help you justify your situation in your head without ever needing to do anything.
That's it. Follow those 5 rules and you're guaranteed a miserable 2019. To recap:
- Keep yourself distracted.
- Prioritize everyone & everything else.
- Have many projects, but don't commit to any of them.
- Set ambitious goals with no timelines or consequences.
- Nothing is your responsibility, nothing is your fault.
Good luck 🙂
Ok. Let's talk.
The first version of this (originally an email for Srinivas Rao's company, Unmistakable Creative) was going to be the 5 laws for nailing resolutions. It was positive, tactical and told you what you should do based on all the latest research.
As I read the finished draft, I came away thinking it was formulaic garbage. It would have been lost in the noise with every other "win the new year" article. It's easy to publish that shit-it's safe, requires no thought, and meets expectations.
In an attempt to avoid contributing to the noise, I flipped the email on its head and drew attention to what lurks in the shadows of those optimistic articles. Instead of focus, I championed distraction. Instead of accountability and taking ownership, I advised to shift blame and shirk responsibility.
I felt uncomfortable writing this one because the 5 rules come from personal experience. The 5 rules are an acknowledgement of that filthy, greasy, petty, egotistical, lazy, animal side I try to keep stuffed down in the recesses of my psyche- far from where it can interfere with my plans for the future.
If you felt anger or unease reading any part of the 5 rules, you recognized that animal in yourself as well.
Good. Follow that discomfort.
Understand: When it comes to personal goals, you don't get credit for intentions- only your actions. That gap between intention and action is where your feelings and emotions wait to ambush you. The 5 rules are there to prevent you from ruthlessly executing on the shit that you know needs doing.
"It's cold outside."
"I'll do it later."
"I'll just watch one episode."
"It's ok to skip a day."
"I want to be better."
It's a crapshoot- we never know which emotions and feelings are going to come out to play. But you'll always find them between your best intentions and the action you take. There are occasions when it's easy to do the right thing. But more often than not, you fall victim to one of the 5 rules under the influence of how you felt in the moment.
Your character, self-esteem, and integrity are forged in the moments where you do what needs doing especially when you don't feel like it.
Your resolutions & goals will vary. This mental game never changes.
For the coming year & beyond, I wish you the courage and discipline to do what you know needs doing- especially when you don't feel like it.
The expanded version of this article was originally published on Kingshuk's site here.