How to fail at anything, Step 1: Change the rules

To be honest, when I was young my ultimate goal in school was not to fail. While my friends shot for A’s, I shot for no F’s.

You see I hated school. I hated walking to school, being in school and walking home from school. It was not, in any way, my favorite time of life, and through it all I became very comfortable with failure.

Now college was a different story. I loved my university life, and excelled. I loved going to school, being on campus, taking classes, learning new things, making friends and even loved the long walk home. It was one of my favorite times of life.

One reason for this dramatic reversal was found in my purpose of being. Throughout my early education I was forced to go to school. My goal was basically pass my classes and suffer through it all. While in University my purpose was to make friends, learn as much as I could, and eventually graduate so I could get the job I wanted.

Like most of us, I eventually made it through my youth somewhat unscathed. However I do believe that my particular experience makes me more aware of what it takes to succeed and/or fail.

So, for the next few articles, let’s reverse the usual write-up about success, and look at how to fail at anything

How to Fail at Anything, Step 1: Change the RulesHow to Fail at Anything, Step 1: Change the Rules


Imagine doing an activity, or playing a game, where the rules keep changing. For example, when playing the game of Monopoly you get $200.00 every time you pass Go. In Soccer you get 1 point for each goal, no matter how the ball enters the net. When the police pull you over for speeding, running a red light and chugging out a bottle of vodka you know you’re in big trouble.

Clear and easy to understand rules not only make activities safe and stable, but also make things easier to accomplish.

When we set a goal, or try to reach an objective, it’s fine to make adjustments along the way. However, when we start changing the rules, things will ultimately fall apart.

For example – We start out with our new diet plan and set 3 ground rules.
1. No eating sweets on weekdays.
2. No eating after eight at night.
3. No white starchy foods.

Then after we begin, we decide rule 3 is too restrictive because we love donuts. So we change the rule to allow donuts on the weekends.
Then we are invited to go out Friday night and decide Friday is not really a weekday, but part of the weekend.
Then we decide that potatoes are vegetables and not really a part of the white starchy food group. This, of course, makes French fries now allowable for our diet.

Over time it becomes easier to justify any changes to the rules. Eventually our human nature kicks in and we decide that the rules were just too demanding and it wasn’t worth it anyway.

Some of us will even come with a new plan, only to repeat the process all over again with new rules, new exceptions, new changes and new failures.

As you can see, it’s easy to start making small rule changes along the way, which ultimately sabotage any chance we have of reaching our dreams or goals.

How to Fail at Anything, Step 1: Change the Rules

The moral of the story, if you want to fail, start changing the rules when life gets tough. However if you want to find success in any endeavor, set your goal, make a plan, set your rules and press through until you find the success you are shooting for.

Check out part 2 here