The Power of Anti-Goals

How to design your perfect day and actually enjoy your time at work by fixating on what you hate.

Too many people, while wealthy and successful, have miserable lives. Calendars packed. On planes all the time. Marriage in shambles. Not enough time with their kids. 4 hours of sleep per night.

To figure out how to make your days consistently more enjoyable, you can use a little trick called "Inversion": problems are often best solved when they are reversed. It‘s easier to think about what you don’t want than what you do.

Here‘s an example of the worst possible day:

  • Full of long meetings

  • A packed calendar

  • Dealing with people you don’t like or trust

  • Owing people things/not being in control/obligations

  • Having to be at the office

  • Tired

Working backwards from there, you can create a set of Anti-Goals:

  • Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all)

  • No more than 2 hours of scheduled time per day

  • No business or obligations with people you don’t like

  • No favors from people who could need something from you (ensure the rule of reciprocity doesn’t kick in)

  • Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where you can come and go as you please with nobody to bother you

  • Video conference or pay for people to come to visit you

  • Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed

Of course, you still have the odd unavoidable crappy day, but these simple Anti-Goals will make your life immeasurably better.