How to fail in 2012 (and beyond!)


“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.”

~ Richard Bach

A few days before 2012 officially begins, like many out there, I too found myself making a list of what I’d like to achieve (and how) in the next 365 days. But then I thought about how many times I’ve been in this exact same spot, thinking I have all the right answers, convinced I will do this, that and the other thing, only to end up doing a rinse-and-repeat routine.

Sound familiar? Well, frankly, I’m getting too old for these games. Which is why this time around, I have a new sense of urgency when it comes to my goals. And so, rather than going the traditional route of gathering up excuses and making grandiose plans, I chose a different perspective, and asked a different question when planning for success: What did I do so well in the past to achieve failure?

There is a lot to be said about reverse psychology. And, a proven recipe for failure provides some of the best, most straightforward clues for success.

Our failures are the perfect examples of great success…at failing. We are not really clueless, lacking in resources, determination or opportunities. Quite the opposite. We are very proficient, persistent AND consistent in working towards failure, and we seize every opportunity available. We know exactly how not to get to Rome, which is why we’re so good at driving on the Jersey Turnpike with a map of Hungary. And it works to get us nowhere every time.

(For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my post on self-sabotage: )

So, this is the deal for 2012. In looking at my own issues and recipes for failure, I realized that I may still not know all the right things to do in every situation, but I surely know a lot about all the wrong things to do. And so I figured I would welcome the New Year with list of strategies I know lead to disastrous results…and avoid those.

When I finished writing, I ended up with three lists instead of one. (and that after heavy editing!)

Here they are for your amusement and discomfort:

12 things to do if you want to screw up in various areas of your life

  1. Do not try to learn from your past mistakes. You didn’t make any. You are simply a victim of unfavorable circumstances and the universe hates you.
  2. If in a difficult financial situation, spend more money, particularly on things you do not need. Seek to create more debt, and do not make or stick to some sort of a budget.
  3. When looking for a job or starting a business, do not use every contact available to you, do not ask questions, seek additional training, or give yourself room to grow. Expect instant results, then give up.
  4. Do not plan ahead, consider alternatives or remain flexible in terms of your professional options. Put all your eggs in one basket, and make sure it’s one that’s missing the bottom right off the bat.
  5. Dwell on your failures and continue to do the same things that got you in trouble in the first place.
  6. Do not seek different perspectives or advice on various issues you’re struggling with. You know best and have the complete picture. Be arrogant!
  7. Do not under any circumstances consult an expert in important matters. You are an expert at everything because you know how to use Google and can read. People with years of specialized experience are useless. You have all the answers.
  8. If you have a project in the works, do not set up a schedule or deadlines. Discipline is for losers, you’re much too creative to be restricted. Your project will complete itself. Besides, success lands on those who are lucky, and one day it will be your turn.
  9. If you must set goals, make sure they are the result of an all-or-nothing thinking process.
  10. Do not move forward on anything until you have all the answers, have resolved all your problems, and figured everything out. This is the surest way to stay stuck.
  11. Let guilt and insecurities guide both your decisions and priorities.
  12. If you want to get fit, do not exercise or eat a sensible diet. Blame your metabolism, mother nature and the manufacturers of processed cheese for those extra pounds and flabby bits.

12 things to do if you want to screw up your relationship (eventually your partner will leave, but if they really love you, it might take a while, so be vigilant)

  1. Do not prioritize your intimate relationship. Everything else (and I mean everything else, including recycling thread) comes first.
  2. Treat the special someone in your life with as much indifference as possible. Take them for granted by adopting an “anything goes” attitude and keeping them at a distance.
  3. Ignore or else firmly dismiss your partner’s wishes and needs. If they have any, they’re greedy and needy.
  4. Refuse to take any of your partner’s complaints seriously. Your partner is only out to make you feel bad and create drama. Nip it in the bud.
  5. Avoid meaningful conversations, joint decision-making, sharing concerns, or seeking your partner’s opinion on issues that affect you both. Everyone has their own issues and should keep them to themselves.  Make your significant other feel like he/she has nothing useful to contribute.
  6. Be inconsistent, give mixed messages, avoid showing interest in or making a commitment to a relationship goal, and be sure to forget everything you promised or intended to do. Hey, everyone does it.
  7. Find creative ways to reject and hurt your partner, particularly at times when you know they are most vulnerable, or else when you see them trying to give you love and support.
  8. Be unavailable as often as possible. Be sure to let your partner know you have many important things to worry about, and therefore do not have the time or energy to spare on his/her trivial concerns.
  9. Always complain, criticize or start difficult, heavy conversations when you know for sure your partner is tired, irritable, or feeling unwell. Be insistent especially when asked to please back off.
  10. Only take responsibility for your actions by saying “I take full responsibility”. Do not actually do anything different or constructive.
  11. Insist you need nothing, ask for nothing and have no expectations. Unlike your partner, you are not weak or needy.
  12. Do less and give less every single day. Eventually, your blinking will count as an anniversary gift. Your partner should learn to be grateful.

12 more things to do if you want to screw up life in general

  1. Get angry at everyone and everything, and stay that way. Never forgive, never be flexible or nurture a positive attitude.
  2. Be judgmental and hold everyone else up to standards you yourself do not follow.
  3. Only concern yourself with your own problems, which of course are the only valid ones in existence. Besides, you’re not responsible for anyone else.
  4. Always do as you please irrespective of others. If they don’t like it, that’s their deal. Being flexible and accommodating in always a bad idea, except towards people who have and will take advantage of you.
  5. Model your behaviors after the most selfish and superficial individuals you can find. Try to surround yourself with these people.
  6. Only seek the advice and opinions of people you know will validate your own views and mistakes. These people are your good friends. Anyone who offers a challenge or constructive criticism is an enemy. Avoid them.
  7. Socialize only with people who you know add nothing to your life, either because they’re clueless, or else too busy with their own lives to care about yours. These are the people you need.
  8. Do not give anyone an opportunity to trust you or even worse, rely on you. Such things are a sign of weakness and you do not want to appear weak, encourage weakness, or surround yourself with weak people.
  9. Make sure you are most generous with those who least deserve it, and least generous with those who give you the most. If they want to give, that’s their problem.
  10. Use your past, preferably a traumatic childhood experience, to excuse yourself from being responsible and proactive when it comes to your present and future.
  11. Allow your pride to stand in the way of truly owning your mistakes, of accepting the insights others try to offer, and of admitting that if you get your act together, no challenge is insurmountable.
  12. Do not commit to anything you care about. In fact, reject commitment altogether, because things “just happen” anyway.

Well, I don’t know about you, but even though I am laughing, I’m also squirming in my seat after re-reading this stuff…and I’m the one who wrote it!

Let’s be honest…in order to make real progress in life we have to step out of our comfort zones and get uncomfortable. It’s always good idea to take an honest, humble and humorous look at all the ridiculous things we do that end up costing us time, energy, love, fun, tenderness, closeness, genuine friendships, satisfaction, peace, confidence, and overall, that sense of wellness, connection, accomplishment and joy we all crave and ultimately also need to share.

So, let’s toast to the New Year, may it be one where we not only recognize and embrace our many gifts, but also set out to actually use them towards creating what we know in our hearts we are truly capable of. Cheers!

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