Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big


Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert. In this book, he talks about trying different money-making schemes and his job history, his battle with losing his ability to speak for a multiyear stretch, and other tangential things. It’s a bit meandering but the nuggets hidden throughout are worth the effort–and the rest is either informative or interesting, which always helps.

Here’s my biggest takeaway:

“To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach that goal–if you reach it at all–feeling as if you were short of your goal…Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out.”

I have always loved goals. And I’ve often been frustrated by them. But listen to what else he says about systems:

“Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system.”

I’m ready for some systems, hence the daily blogging. I’m working toward creating systems for the most important things that I don’t get to as much as I should: prayer, Bible study, exercise. I want better systems for homeschooling and cooking so that I can spend more time teaching my kids non-academic lessons and have more time for my own personal pursuits.

I want to hack my way to more time with less effort just like I learned to hack grocery shopping to get more bang for our (limited) buck.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard goes something like this: If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.…Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it. And to pursue it effectively, they need a system. Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer what you’re willing to pay.”

What will be the price to get more out of my days? Planning ahead and putting my phone down and then simply doing what needs to be done….once the system is set up, anyway.

He uses a really helpful metaphor: humans are moist robots. As a Christian, I recognize that’s not actually the case, but when it comes to day-to-day choices and preferences, the image is helpful. If I put in junky food, I’m going to get junky feelings. If I get enough sleep, there will be more energy in my tank.

Not bad takeaways for a random library grab. 25 notecards saved for later.

What about you? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!

Published by MK Jorgenson

Thinking, writing, and talking about Christian stewardship in all of its facets.

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