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Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

26 June

Do we just continue on cruise control or do we live in line with what we believe to be our purpose?

The last posts have taken us through 15 rules that I believe are important to ensure we’re the protagonist of our own lives. As I wrote in the introduction to this series, I believe that those who read my content have in common that we take a proactive approach to life and view ourselves as the protagonists of our lives.

As a concluding post, I thought I’d explore the consequences of doing the opposite of each of the rules. What would happen if we would be the antagonists of our own lives, rather than the protagonists? What would be the most effective ways of making our lives as awful as possible?

1. Instead of owning it, blame everyone else

No matter what happens, what the root cause is or what the consequences are, you always make sure to blame it on others. This makes you the victim of the situation and allows you to moan and complain while waiting for someone else to take care of it for you.

2. Instead of having a purpose, do what’s expedient

Embrace a nihilistic view of life in which nothing matters and everything is relative. This allows you to take on a hedonistic, self-centered life where you choose whatever feels good in the short term and is expedient. Louis XIV said it perhaps best: “After us, the flood.”

3. Instead of competing intentionally, go after everything

In every situation, engage in competition and do everything you can to show that you’re better than those around you. And when you win, boast loudly and make those who didn’t win feel as bad as possible. Of course, when you don’t win, pretend you weren’t really trying.

4. Instead of questioning everything, believe everything at face value

Whenever anyone tells you why something happened, simply accept the explanation. When you feel a particular way or have a random thought pop up in your head, treat it as the truth as your feelings are infallible.

5. Instead of saying hell yes or no, say yes to everything

Whenever anyone asks you for anything, just accept and do whatever they asked you. Make sure to surround yourself with as many people as possible who ask for things so that you always feel overwhelmed and terrible about the fact that you haven’t gotten around to dealing with some of them.

6. Instead of getting out of your comfort zone, stay smack in the middle

Don’t ever take risks and simply keep doing whatever you’ve been doing for years. Why change what works? It’s much safer to keep doing what you’ve always been doing. When it gets boring and you feel like you’re not growing, promise yourself that in the future, you’ll change things. Kick the can down the road.

7. Instead of changing your mind, lock yourself to your initial position

Once you’ve made up your mind, fight to the death to keep the position you took at first. Believe with your whole heart that because you came to a conclusion perhaps years back, it’s still the right answer and simply ignore any evidence to the contrary.

8. Instead of using data, rely on your feelings

Whatever you’re feeling is the truth and shouldn’t be questioned. Use your outstanding storytelling machine to create justifications whenever there’s a discrepancy between reality and your view of it.

9. Instead of taking care of yourself, let bad habits compound

Accept weight gain as a normal consequence of aging. Don’t exercise as it gets you sweaty, out of breath and uncomfortable. Eat and drink things that you know aren’t good for you, but use them as a crutch to manage life. And whatever you do, don’t sit down and think about who you are and what you want. Take a pill if you feel bad.

10. Instead of studying Stoicism and Buddhism, follow the latest fad

The latest is the greatest, so whatever self-named guru pops up with some esoteric message, simply run after it and emulate whatever they’re doing in the hope it leads to the same outcomes for you. And make sure to fight as many windmills as possible by focusing all your energy on things that you can’t change.

11. Instead of giving back, focus everything on yourself

Whenever successful, claim that it’s because of your abilities. If not, blame others. You got to where you are on your own and therefore everyone else should just do their own thing. Not your job to help them, so why waste time and energy on that?

12. Instead of exploring, stay with what you know

You tried out different things earlier in life and it all sucked majorly. You’ve arrived at the optimal place in life, so it’s now all about enjoying where you are instead of trying to improve. Especially as you’re certain that any new thing you’d try wouldn’t lead to a positive outcome anyway.

13. Instead of being proud of who you see in the mirror, don’t worry about the consequences of your actions

Whenever you’re faced with a challenging problem, simply act in the way that’s most expedient. The end justifies the means, so as long as the goal is good for you, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

14. Instead of not taking yourself too seriously, make it all about you

You’re the only one who actually matters. Anyone who questions any of your statements or opinions is obviously wrong and needs to be smacked down as hard as you can. It feels right, so how can you possibly be wrong?

15. Instead of memento mori, go carpe diem

Don’t bother about the future, how to use your time well or the impact you want to accomplish. Instead, pretend you’re going to live forever and delay everything that’s important but hard until some undefined later.

Every day and every moment, we have a choice to make. Do we live by the principles and rules we set for ourselves and in line with what we believe to be our purpose? Or do we just continue on cruise control and lane keeping and keep doing what we’ve always done and what feels right? The consequence of the latter is of course that you’ll die well before you’re dead, as Scott Stambach so neatly summarized. Instead, be the protagonist of your own life, focus on self-actualization and be all you can be, to quote a US military slogan. Live life to the fullest as, as far as I know, you only get to live it once!