Follow these simple guidelines for an ordinary, dull, and monotonous life:
- Believe everything people tell you (especially those you agree with).
- Try your hardest not to stand out.
- Stay close to home or within a 20 mile radius (preferably less).
- Get a job for the money, not for the meaning it brings to you and others.
- Do something because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
- Surround yourself with ordinary people who never challenge your thinking.
- Denounce any responsibility for any problem you have.
- Go to college for the status symbol, not because you actually want to learn.
- Finish college in 4 years, maybe 5 (or 7). No big deal, government loans are paying for it!
- Buy into the belief that college is the best investment you can make in yourself.
- Spend your college years drinking, smoking, partying, and stressing over your GPA.
- Follow the plan, take courses you hate, wither away your curiosity and excitement to learn.
- Spend your senior year at the career center, hoping that one of those big NYC firms will accept you into their high-paid (and crowded) cubicle farm. (Or D.C., if getting coffee for arrogant politicians is your idea of a fulfilling life.)
- Your resume is your golden ticket to success.
- Spend the most capable 40 years of your life grinding at ordinary jobs you hate.
- Spend the most capable 40 hours of your week grinding at ordinary jobs you hate.
- Spend 32 of those 40 hours a week pretending to be busy.
- Spend the other 8 doing meaningless paper-shuffling or attending useless meetings.
- Learn quickly to do the bare minimum, and redirect blame for anything. It’s okay, you are not responsible for what happens in your company.
- Take credit when things go well. You get good at all of the things you never failed at.
- Become adept in office politics. Form pacts with like-minded people and engage in a cold war of passive aggression against Pam from three cubicles away.
- Base all your judgments on personality, not principle.
- Instead of focusing on large, intangible problems that can move the company forward, focus on the tangible, useless work that everyone notices, instead.
One day, you’ll have an office with windows. You’ll get that 3% standard of living raise. It’ll all be worth it.
- Your credit card is your bank account.
- Your college loans are out of control, so what’s the harm in the biggest mortgage you can find?
- Since the real measures of success and peace of mind are not working out, focus more on status symbols. TVs, furniture, cars, jewelry. It’s all financed by the bank. And you’ll impress all your friends.
- Complain about gas prices while you head to Starbucks for your $6 latte.
- Who needs sound financial planning? The government will bail you out when things get tough.
- Your miserable ordinary job is your only source of income. Panic when Covid-19 (or any black swan) ruins that fool-proof plan of yours.
- Never question authority. Only those who have never stepped out of line are the ones who have achieved success.
- Believe in, and actively defend the way things used to be. Even though back then, you were still defending the way things used to be.
- Support a political leader, regardless of principles. You’re a team player until the end.
- Believe that everything your favorite leader does and says is true, without question.
- Ask for permission to go take a phone call, or to go to the bathroom.
- Try anything to get on the good side of authority. Ride their coattails to greatness!
- You go with the flow, whether it’s dictated by established authority, or by the vocal minority (which you believe is the majority, from the perspective of your news channel of choice.)
- Wait until you have enough vacation time. When you have permission, (and when Pam from three cubicles away is back from her vacation) go to the safest English-speaking resort on an island.
- If you’re brave, go somewhere like Mexico, but stay within the confines of the resort.
- If people there don’t understand English like they should, just speak louder. That will make them understand.
- While there, look for the nearest Burger King when you get hungry.
- When you return, complain that it went too quick.
- Don’t forget to talk about what a wonderful cultural experience it was.
- Never travel alone in a country deemed too “foreign.”
Relax, You’re Safe!
Being ordinary is safe. It’s easy. It’s firmly within your comfort zone. It is the status quo. No one questions you because you fit in. Be careful never to step out of line, or else you’ll be subjected to the opinions of others. Follow this cheat sheet, and you will be assured a relatively stress-free life, filled with soul-crushing debt, meaningless work, and the customary quarter-life and mid-life existential crises.
Oh, never mind. You don’t use cheat sheets.