How to Cheat at Life

As a child when my mom gave me instructions, I would always obey.

Mom: Brandon, go get the shirts off the clothes line.

Me: Okay.

Me: *returning to the house with a load of clothes in my arms*

Mom: Where are the rest of the clothes?!

Me: You only told me to get the shirts!

I was a frustrating child.

My mom didn’t appreciate my attention to detail in her instructions but I see now that it was going to be a pattern for me. Doing the bare minimum I think I can while still getting what I want.

You know who else is lazy? Mother Nature. Take lightning for example. It takes the path of least resistance to get to the closest negatively charged object. It’s not as simple as that though. It actually takes all paths available until it realizes that it’s not on the most efficient path. Then it stops and checks with all the other paths it has taken until it finds the most efficient one. That’s why when you see a lightning strike, you see it branch out with “feelers.”

In order to succeed, you need to put the least amount of effort the produces the greatest results.

Pareto Principle Applied to Life

When I was in college I chose to put in only enough effort to pass my classes. Since my goal was to get my degree, credit were my goal no grades.

Pareto’s Law, also known as the 80/20 rule is the concept that 20% of your effort results in 80% of the output. Putting in 20% of the effort got me a C and 80% more effort got me an A. I felt like putting in 80% more effort was a waste of time. I was right! I have not been asked about my college grades on a single job interview since then.

If I would have really put my laziness to work for me my educational path would have looked something like this:

  1. Drop out of school at 16 years old
  2. Get my GED
  3. Attend Community College – 2 years, 18 years old
  4. Transfer to a University – 2 years, 20 years old

I could have graduated at 20 years old with a college degree. So why doesn’t everybody do this? Most of my colleagues don’t have jobs that line up with their degrees anyway. My Project Management co-worker has a French degree and my Salesman friend has an English degree.

I ran this idea past my girlfriend and she brought up the fact that if you don’t attend a university for four years then you are missing out on the social aspect that it brings. Although I agree that the social aspect of going to a university is valuable, I think you can get the same social experience in two years that you would get in four years.

Other Ways to be Lazy

Jim Rohn says that you should “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself you’ll make a fortune.”

When I think of working on myself I think of things like increasing my self-awareness, empathy, and discipline. These are skills that I can use in all aspects of my life including my job.

Another life cheat that I realized I was doing lately is only concentrating on the most visible tasks at work. For instance, have you ever had multiple tasks to complete at work but you know that there’s no way you can complete all of them? How do you choose what tasks to do? Based on my experience most people choose the task that they feel strongest about. What if you chose the task that your boss feels most strongly about? My boss can help me get what I want. Salary increase, working on the best projects, advocating for me when I’m not present, etc…

Restrictions We Impose on Ourselves

There are many factors that keep us from taking the path of least resistance like social norms. If you were to drop out of school and get your GED at 16 years old you would be viewed as a loser by your parents and friends. Community college isn’t as prestigious as university so if you want that prestige you have to attend a university.

Others are cultural. If you continued to live with your parents after you turned 18, you would be seen as a loser not only by your friends, but by the opposite sex. You’ve probably heard this put down before, “Oh he still lives with his parents?!” It implies that he isn’t independent and ambitious. What if he is just super efficient?!

Cheating at life requires you to not care what other people think. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re not worried about being judged.

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  1. freddy smidlap on March 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    my employer was generously reimbursing my tuition at an expensive liberal arts school in the 90’s. you needed a “c” or better. i got a lot of c’s. i also worked a shift job that was beneath my qualifications for about 12 years in a crappy rust belt city. it paid a lot though and the living here is cheap and there is more prestige in being financially secure now than in a title or address.

    • Brandon on March 19, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      That sounds like smart living Freddy!

  2. Mighty Investor on November 12, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Your approach to hacking college is exactly what I’m going to have my (hypothetical) kids do unless I am worth more than 5 mill by then or they get into an Ivy League that pays for everything and they (we) don’t have to take on debt.

    • Brandon on November 12, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      Ha, I get so much shit when I bring that hack up to people. Most common response is “But what about the college experience.”

      I totally hope you’re worth 5 mill so they can go to one of those Ivy League schools but if not, there’s always a shortcut.

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