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The Rule Of Suck

For your consideration I’m going to discuss what I’ve just now tentatively decided to call, The Rule Of Suck.

It’s not a complicated rule. But it’s an important one nonetheless. The Rule Of Suck says . . .

You must be willing to suck at some things to succeed at others.

The concept isn’t entirely new, and probably the most common iteration of it peppering the literature of personal development puts it this way: “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

While certainly true, that oldschool version doesn’t account for the struggle we so often face when trying to choose the most enticing anythings from the glorious smorgasbord of everything.

The Rule Of Suck does.

It also gives us permission to temporarily neglect some goals so that we can more fully invest in others.

For example, while I have a goal to write five blog posts a week for I’ve chosen to suck at that goal for now. I only have so many words in me each day, and I also have a goal to finish writing a book (on goals, of course). The book, I decided, takes priority.

Before The Rule Of Suck gave me permission to do this I would probably have tried to achieve both writing goals at once. I’d probably have quickly burnt out, failing to finish either. And I’d probably have felt like a failure as a result.

How To Suck At Your Goals

The good thing about sucking at a goal is that it’s super easy. All you need to do is to decide to suck at a goal, then proceed suck to at it.

The key is to suck at the goal deliberately by refusing to invest much if any effort into achieving it. To willfully neglect it, at least for the time being.

The hardest part of the rule isn’t sucking, it’s choosing which goals to suck at. For that follow these steps . . .

Step 1: Identify Your Most Important Goals

You probably already have an idea about some of the big goals you want to accomplish.

Write them down.

Typically big goals are those that are about your life trajectory, are deeply important to you, or will take a months or years to finish.

Big goals almost always have steps–subgoals–to them. They are the ones that you think about all the time, that excite you, and maybe even scare you. They also big because they promise to have the biggest impact on your life.

The Rule Of Suck can probably apply to lesser goals too (I’ve never tried). But it is for big goals that the Rule exists.

Step 2: Estimate The Time Needed For Each Goal

Below each of the goals you’ve listed estimate the time investment that will be required for success. This can vary wildly depending on the goal.

If it’s something that will require a specific length of time in weeks, months, or years, note that. The main thing to focus on, though, is how much time it will take every week. Because that’s the primary frame by which we think about our time, and experience our time.

You don’t have to be precise about how much time the goals will require each week. Just give it your best estimate.

Step 3: Check Your Calendar

With the time estimates you just made in mind, take a look at your calendar. How much free time do you have each week to devote to goals?

Don’t bullshit yourself when estimating your available time, either. Your calendar may show that you have a good eight hours of time available after work throughout the week, but are you really going to be able to spend all those hours on your goals?

Very probably not.

You have other responsibilities. Your a long day of work has sapped the lion’s share of your energy. Sometimes all we have left in us is an hour or two before we simply have veg out to trash TV.

In fact, I advise erring on the side of deliberately under-estimating your available goal time so if you end up with more, it’s all goal gravy.

Step 4: Wrestle And Decide

With the previous step it may have become immediately obvious that you simply don’t have enough time available to achieve all of your goals. At least right now (More on that in a minute). So now it’s time to wrestle with your options, and the decide on where you want to invest your focus.

To help with this ask yourself questions like . . .

Is this goal in alignment with who I am today and who I want to be tomorrow? (If not, cross it off the list. It’s okay to outgrow goals. Let ’em go.)

Can I finish one of these goals much sooner than another? Would make more sense to tackle that first?

Is there a way I can combine any of these goals? (Example: Drawing Goal + Writing Goal = Whaddabout Making A Comic Book?) 

Which goal, once completed, will take me further towards creating my ideal life? 

Am I actually ready to tackle this goal at this point in my life?

Would I really do the work on that goal?

Which goal excites me most?

What goal bores me most?

What’s my gut tell me?

These are just examples. The point is to reflect a bit and get some clarity so you can make the most informed and least sucky decision possible for what goals to focus on.

How Many Goals Can You Not-Suck At?

Everyone differs, and so too our goals, but I recommend limiting yourself to two are three big goals at a time. Depending on the nature of your goals and the time you have available, a fourth can sometimes be crammed in there too.

But you should be prepared to suck at any goals beyond that.


When you’ve chosen the big goal or goals to focus on it’s time to make a mental commitment to sucking at ALL the other goals that are NOT on the list. You will not allow these goals to tempt you away from your chosen focus.

And trust me, they will try.

I also recommend committing yourself to sticking to your big goals and sucking at your suck goals for no less than one month (unless one of your big goals can be accomplished in less time than that).

That said . . .

It IS okay to drop Big Goals if you have more than one and become overwhelmed. But only so long as you stick with at least one big goal for one month. Just resist the temptation to go back to your Suck list and change all of your Big Goals. Decision demands follow-through, so stick with it for at least thirty days. At that point, if you’re priorities really have changed, you can feel free to shift gears.

So there you have it. The Rule Of Suck and how to use it.

Final Thoughts On Sucking

My first final thought on The Rule Of Suck: Remember that choosing to suck at a goal doesn’t mean you are giving up on that goal forever. To everything there is a season, including your goals. By choosing to suck at some of them you’re simply acknowledging that, given all you want and need to do in life, the time isn’t right for that goal. YET.

My second final thought is that by consciously, selectively owning your suck this way you actually end up sucking at far fewer of your goals than you otherwise would. When you try to do too much you dissipate your energy and undermine your effectiveness in everything. If you tackle half a dozen big goals at once, maybe you won’t totally suck at them. But you probably won’t wildly succeed at any of them either.

My third final thought is that The Rule Of Suck is sometimes like Spock. His logic is impeccable, which can be frustrating because you can’t argue with it. When your un-tamed human emotions make you want to take on five Klingon Birds Of Prey, he raises an eyebrow and informs you that the odds of success are precisely 3,460,723 to 1. And you better listen.

My final final thought on The Rule Of Suck is that I should be applauded for making it this far without a single blowjob reference. But I made a decision to suck at blowjob references for this post, and then committed myself to sticking with that decision until the very, very end.


Was it good for you?

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