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Failing Made Easy

by Silvia Hartmann & Contributors

Inspired by the recent post "7 Steps to effective hating", I remembered a party game that one day, developed quite naturally and had all of us in total hysterics at the time. It doesn't actually have 7 steps (sorry) but as many as you decide it should have and you can have them in any order.  

First of all, you pick something you kow lots about how to fail at. Indepth personal experience is of the essence here - can't be done in any other way.  

You then remember exactly what needs to be done in order to fail as successfully as you did and write it down in bullet point format (you can arrange it later). Each bullet point then becomes a chapter in the book.  

Start with what you know the most about to get the hang of it but don't stop there. We have many more resources than we would believe at first!  

Indeed, you can think of this as the first book in an entire series that will make you rich, universally beloved, incredibly popular and a sex toy for many fine and beautiful people in the end and force you to write the final title in the series, entitled, "How To Fail At Failing", after which you must retire.  

Here are two examples.  

"How To Fail At Plastering Successfully"  

1. Completely ignore the "water to plaster" ratio advised on the pack. Make up your own consistency.  

2. Don't stir too much else it gets too smooth.  

3. Make sure you overload your trowel to your best ability. The more you slap on, the quicker you're done.  

4. Keep altering the pressure as you smooth it down. Dancing whilst doing this helps with this.  

5. Always start at the top. That way, it all slithers down much better!  

6. Put the heating on and open all the windows.  

7. Sit back and admire your handiwork!  

"How To Fail at Making A Good Living As A Personal Coach".  

1. Don't answer the phone. If you have an answerphone, make sure it's off putting and rarely if ever checked.  

2. Make sure you write any potential client's names and contact details on small scraps of paper that you lose religiously.  

3. *Never* get back to people who enquire about your services.  

4. Under NO circumstances, advertise.  

5. Especially NOT in any places where business could be achieved or clients might hang out.  

6. If you can't avoid it, only advertise in any one place ONCE and never again in order to avoid building up any form of customer recognition or corporate identity.  

7. Charge ridiculously low prices, or even better, just give taster sessions for free that a) either entirely put the potential client off or b) solve their problems on the spot so they have no further need for you.  

8. Occupy your time trying your hands at a great variety of "get rich quick" schemes that will help you avoid thinking of anything or doing anything other than your core business.  

9. Either don't have a database for past and existing clients at all, but if you do, make sure it isn't up to date, in entire disarray and completely useless.  

10. If you have a website, make sure it is a) always under construction, b) always out of date, c) unfindable, d) un-navigatable. Also helps if it looks as though Aunt Mary knitted it in her back yard after church on Sunday.  

11. Don't have a mailing list, either postal or e-based. If you do, make sure you don't use it - ever! This is best achieved by following the good advice in No. 9.  

12. Don't produce a distributable catalogue of your products and services. It's a lot of work, costs money you don't have and can only lead to further disappointment. If you already have one, make sure it follows the guidelines from No. 10. This also applies to stationary and business cards.  

13. Keep away from all networking. If it is unavoidable, make sure you ONLY think in terms of "me me me". Make sure to forget to honour any arrangements with any others; also make sure you DON'T contribute a thing to any individual or networking group, even by accident.  

14. Make sure you don't commit yourself to your business. This is best done by retaining a sense of disappointment and failure at all times and spending much time per day sharing this over coffee, red wine and joints with fellow sufferers. If there are no fellow sufferers in you local area, you can find support groups on the Internet or turn to watching daytime TV "for research purposes".  

That's two examples how to help others fail as successfully at something as we have managed to achieve.  

It isn't easy, it takes perseverance and there's always many an excellently effective strategy to be modelled.  

So, if there's something you have a lot of experience in failing at, I think it's time you picked up your responsibility to your fellow man and woman and write it down, get it published, get it out there. That way, they get there much quicker and the human race becomes far more efficient all over.  

Think of the children!  

Topics that are particularly needed are: How To Fail Successfully At Weightloss & Fitness; How To Fail At Relationships; How To Fail At Having Any Relationships In The First Place; How To Fail At (Insert any particular work or business, they're all ideosyncratic!); How To Fail At Raising Happy Relaxed Self Motivated Children, and many, many more.  

We have so much experience, I do feel it's time we shared this with the world.  



Silvia Hartmann  

From: Chrissy H Love it, it's brilliant. I shall get everyone playing it next week when I am on holiday - good travel game!!

Topics that are particularly needed are:  

How To Fail Successfully At Weightloss & Fitness  


1. Always eat everything your children leave on their plates.  

2. Make sure you eat out at least 3 times a week, preferably Indian or Chinese.  

3. Don't buy any "low fat" products and certainly none bearing the Weight Watchers label.  

4. Always rush out to buy numerous bars of chocolate after watching a chocolate advert on TV.  

5. Don't hang around with anyone thin so you won't feel the urge to diet.  

6. Always eat a large bowl of cereal in the bath.  

7. Go to the gym daily but spend all the time in the jacuzzi or juice bar.  

8. Throw away those trainers.  

9. If you feel the need to exercise confine it to your eyelids.  

L and W  


From: Gregory Rasputin

Great topic by the way.  

Ok here's how to fail at relationships:  

#1 golden rule that's guaranteed to erase every relationship is: don't even solve your fights, let them sit inside each partner, and eat away at them. Do this in a hope that if you just leave the problem alone it'll solve itself.  

2. this is important too, compliment the person excessively, make sure that they're not nearly as attached to u as you are, and then shower them with love. Remember, the less they do for you, the more u should do for them.  

3. once u managed to actually get the relationship going for about half a year or so, and it's going well, don't worry there's still a chance to fuck it up: constantly mention all the partners you've had before, as to add value to yourself in their eyes.  

4. when you're wrong don't ever admit it.  

5. when you're right, let them have their way.  

Hi Gregory,  

Those are good!  

They've inspired me to write down ....  

"How to successfully fail at having any relationships to fail at in the first place."  

1. Keep your social circle confined to a few people you already know and who are safe in all ways. Never step beyond this - there's no point and will only lead to wasting your time and much disappointment.  

2. Create a template in your head of "the perfect partner". Make it big and make it bright. Compare anyone who has slipped thru No.1 by accident ruthlessly with this template and discard if *anything whatsoever* isn't *exactly* as the template. You deserve only the best.  

3. Stay away from any kind of human gathering that could have likeminded folk amongst them. Friendship and mutual interest is the first step on the road to relationship hell. You can, however, attend bars but make sure they're suitably sordid and you are solidly off your head.  

4. If you have to chat up people, only chat up those you don't like and have no interest in whatsoever.  

5. Following on from No. 4, if you have to date people, either only date those you can't stand or confine yourself to the services of professional providers in the field.  

6. Shop, bank and generally move about *only* AFTER the sun has gone down. Wear black leather and shades and preferably a hat.  

7. However and to be on the safe side, stay away from all the places where the *other* people in black leather, shades and hats hang out - especially after dark.  

8. Make a rule that you will only trust people with any kind of conversation, validation, attention and intimacy if they are of the same sex as you are. If you are gay, of course the reverse applies.  

9. Should anyone show any interest in spite of all the above, on the first possible occasion tell them about your propensity for serial killing, black satanic rites and the drinking of the blood. Should this fail to have the required effect, quickly switch into a story of how that used to be the case but then you found Jesus. Remember to be really, really intense about it!  

10. If you have followed all the above, you should be reasonably safe. However, prolonged loneliness can build up internal pressure and mistakes can occur as a result. Be sure to have your basement bedsit well stacked with entertainment, that your pc and your xxx subsciptions are up to date, your wide screen tv, video and DVD is supplied with the required material on a regular basis by mail order and you have also books and magazines at hand to help with both your intellectual as well as physiological needs.  

This helpful advice was dispensed by:  

Rev. S. Hartmann  

How To Fail At Losing Weight

From: wspyzbth  

How to fail at losing weight:  

1. Remember this is going to be very hard. Give yourself a clear goal. Decide exactly how much weight you have to lose, and by what date. Circle that date on the calendar. Start your diet right away. Don't make excuses out of anything else that's going on in your life at present. Just get on with it.  

2. Track your progress. Weigh yourself before you start, and every single day without fail. Make a graph of the results and study it carefully.  

3. Many people mistakenly try to do exercise as well, while dieting. It's much easier (and safer for your joints) not to exercise at all until you're down to a healthy weight. If you exercise, it slows your weight loss, because you gain muscle tissue, which is bulky and heavy. Don't do that. Focus your attention on your eating.  

4. With a little careful planning, dieting need not disrupt your lifestyle at all. You can still do all the things you used to do. And you can still eat the things you're accustomed to – just buy (or make) low fat versions of them. There are lots of helpful special diet foods in the supermarket, and also diet pills that can help you. (Call me now!)  

5. This is all about willpower. You'll have to try really hard to stick to your diet. But remember, it isn't for ever. You'll get through it. And the faster you get to that target weight, the better, so you don't have to keep all this up for so long.  

6. Get your friends and family to support you by pointing out if they see you eating anything you shouldn't. Have a little competition with yourself to see how far you can go through the day before you have anything solid to eat.  

7. If you fail (i.e. you eat something you shouldn't), don't feel too bad. Failure is only to be expected. You can always try again some other time. Oh and by the way, you really ought to quit smoking too!  


(P.s. for anyone who has just joined this thread, please note that this is advice on how to FAIL.)  

From: eljwc "To completely fail to learn to play the electric guitar" Okay, this sounds like fun. Let me have a go at this one: "To completely fail to learn to play the electric guitar"  

1. Completely idolize a particular player and consider their skill to be so far beyond your capabilities that you will never, ever get there. Decide this BEFORE you buy your first guitar. Spend a lot of time listening to your idol and keep reinforcing to yourself how superbly wonderful he is and how you could never be like that.  

2. Never, ever apply your previous musical knowledge to guitar. Never learn the notes on the fretboard, never extrapolate scales, never play by ear. Eighth-grade level classical instrument? Musical theory up the wazoo? Sight reading like a champ? Forget it all! After all, the guitar is a new and mysterious beast that deserves unique treatment and you will never, ever play like your IDOL (see above). Regard phrases like, 'Phrygian mode' with mystical awe, despite the fact that you knew what it was in a classical context. As far as you are concerned, learning to play the electric guitar is NOTHING like that pesky classical education you fought so hard for, so forget it ever happened.  

3. Never play a piece, only 'try' to play. Remember the words of Master Adoy, "there is no 'do', there is only 'try' ". TRY to finger a scale with weak, inexperienced fingers. TRY to fumble out the sound of a major scale. TRY to bear the pain of ripped skin, and cramping hands from excessive barre-chords. LAMENT that you feel like a SPASMOID DWEEB because when TRYING to play a scale, inversion or arpeggio, your hand feels like a daddy-long-legs spider that had too many spider-shandies down at the old Dew Fly Inn.  

4. Only practice for an hour a day. Forget your earlier practice regimen of at least three hours a day - after all, you are in it to fail it, right? Resist the temptation to play for more. If you can manage, try to take three month breaks between practice sessions. When you get back to the guitar and find that you are still in the desired state of being 'utter crap', tell yourself constantly that 'god, you sound horrible. You'll never sound like Mr Guitar Wizard!' Do this until you feel at least a twinge of badness each time you look at the guitar.  

5. When you practice, make sure that you only practice one thing, or if you do more than one, do it haphazardly and badly. Never apply any sense of elegance or economy of motion to your so-called practice, no matter how much of that you had in your classical background. Carry a strong mental impression of how your IDOL sounds, so that when you TRY to play, you can automatically start to compare yourself unfavourably with him. Denigrate your shoddy picking skills. Curse your picking hand for not palm muting strings, so that they all ring out in gratuitous disharmony as you TRY to stumble through a lick that is way too difficult for your pitiful level of skill.  

6. Constantly compare yourself with your musical genius friend who picked up the guitar and was widdling like Van Halen in just over a year and a bit. Ignore the fact that he was extremely motivated, dedicated and practiced for several hours a day with balletic precision. Seek to add that sense of 'falling behind' to the badness you already feel when you look at your well-underplayed axe. Constantly make excuses like, 'I can't play like that because HE has perfect pitch and I have an ear of wood! He's so gifted! I am a flummoxed piece of worn carpet!' Ignore that your motivation for classical music was at least equal to, if not greater than his motivation to play guitar. Ignore all the compliments that your teachers and fellow musicians gave you regarding your understanding and love of baroque music. Forget all of that, it's not important any more.  

7. Disregard your knowledge of accelerated learning techniques, belief shifting techniques, and modeling. Completely fail to apply Borrowed Genius or Deep Trance Identification with your IDOL, no matter how many videos of him you have. In fact, every time you watch a video, under no circumstances are you to pick out his technique, his physiology, or his note choices, but just watch him in amazement and say to yourself in a mix of amazement and depression, ' he is soooo good, I'll never get to be like that. He's so talented and I'm just a bedroom try-hard.' Aim to give your internal voice just that right amount of despondency.  

8. If the thought of applying your knowledge to ease your guitar-playing learning-curve ever comes to mind, think of how it 'might' be done, draw up a plan, but promptly put it away in a drawer and do NOT, under any circumstances, actually follow it through. Better yet, write the plan only in your head so that there is no written record of what sort of trance processes and practice regimens you could use. That way you'll forget it more easily, which will greatly help your goal, which is:  

"To completely fail to learn to play the electric guitar"  

You can do it! Thousands of bedroom try-hards have done it, so can you!!!  

Go for it!!!!  


How To Fail At Playing The Accoustic Guitar From StarFields  

Oh Elroy, thank you! Very helpful! That'll save me *hours* when I get to that.  

I have some tips about "How to fail at learning to play the accoustic guitar to any form of performance standard", perhaps we can put them together?  

1. Don't seek out a teacher but buy a cheap book. This way, you'll get it wrong right from the start and build usefully ingrained bad habits that will be impossible to challenge, morph or change into any kind of fluent action, position, etc. later on.  

2. Don't listen to anyone or seek any advice about buying your first guitar and don't spend any money on it, not a cent more than absolutely necessary. Best buy one in a garage sale. A beginner's accoustic guitar must have enough space between the fretboard and the strings to push a cucumber thru, else it's for wimps.  

3. Once you have mastered fingering "cheat versions" of about three chords, stop learning new ones. After all, Bob Dylan made a fortune and he didn't know any more than that either.  

4. Realise immediately that bar chords were not invented for accoustic guitars and just give up there and then. This will save you years of futile misery!  

5. Should you be driven to follow tab sheets but they involve bar chords, buy a capo instead. No-one will notice the difference.  

6. Keep telling yourself as your f***king around aimlessly with your three chords repeatedly that you're only playing for yourself, so it doesn't matter anyway.  

7. Don't *ever* buy new strings. A load of muck and rust dulls the sound and makes it less likely for you to become really aware of how awfully out of tune the thing is and how badly you're still playing "Jolene" after 18 years of playing it every other night.  

8. When asked to perform for friends or at parties, create a panic attack on the spot and refuse stoutly. Always remember the creed: "You're only playing for yourself, so it doesn't matter anyway."  

There we have it.  

Ah LOL, this is getting a bit too educational for my liking ...  


Silvia "Yes you CAN play Space Oddity without a single bar chord" Hartmann

How To Fail At Writing  

From: Zed Lopez  

1. Understand that you can only possibly write with your mind is relaxed and untroubled by other concerns. So if there's anything else at all you 'should' be doing, do it instead. For failure bonus points, just thrash and worry about what you should be doing instead of actually doing anything -- that way you can endlessly reuse the exact same things!  

2. You know it's impossible to make a living writing, so have a day job you hate that leaves you mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. After work, you'll be in no shape to write, so have some ice cream and watch TV. You deserve it.  

3. Invent endless constraints regarding under what circumstances you could get writing done. You need your own office. A special desk. A special pen. Absolute quiet. A certain computer. Spend more time complaining about the lack of these circumstances than actually writing.  

4. You'll be able to get plenty of writing done when you're independently wealthy and have lots of free time. Just wait till then.  

5. There are thousands of writing books. Better read them all before you start. One of them has got to have the secret. (Be sure to skip all the exercises.)  

6. Let's face it, you don't know enough to be a writer. You've never even read [insert famous literary work here]. Better get to it, or no one will take you seriously.  

7. Surround yourself with people who are jealous of your time, disrespect your writing and undermine you at every turn. If possible, marry one and have kids.  

8. If you actually fail at all of the above, and actually sit down to write, make sure each word, each sentence is perfect before you move on -- compare it to your favorite writers' published works (you don't think people with talent have to rewrite, do you?) and attack it with all the viciousness of your cruelest and bitterest teachers.  

9. Give up as soon as it seems hard or you feel uninspired. After all, if it were real art, it would flow smoothly and be easy.  

10. Whatever you do, don't finish anything. Just keep starting new fragments. (Any ideas prior to your latest suck anyway.) Or endlessly torture your existing manuscripts until you drain them of any vitality they might once have had.  

11. If you do finish something, immediately share it with someone who can be counted on to tear it apart, tell you you're wasting your time, and imply you're an idiot for ever imagining you could write. Believe this person -- s/he wouldn't say it if it weren't true.  

12. Be sure you never actually submit your work for publication. Take the decision out of the editors' hands: reject it for them.  

13. If a story gets rejected, don't send it anywhere else -- obviously it was no good. In all likelihood, you aren't either: be sure not to pass up the opportunity to consider giving it all up.  

14. If, in an extreme case of failing at the above, you've actually published something, know that it was just a fluke. _Never ever_ believe in yourself.  

15. And generally take miserable care of your body, your relationships, your finances and everything in your life. Avoid anything that would make you happy -- artists have to suffer.  

Repeat as necessary.  



© Silvia Hartmann/Contributors 2002

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