By now you have likely heard of or read Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and understand the importance of not spending our “ever-dwindling fucks on unfuckworthy things.”
Hopefully, you also read the blog post I wrote in 2016 (before that book was published) about Giving Less Fucks. If somehow that slipped past your sincere dedication to reading my blog, I’ll forgive you, but you should go back and read it.
The thing is, it’s three years later and I still find myself consumed with trying to live up to socially constructed expectations of perfectionism and giving way too many fucks.
While I’ve pruned back the number of things I truly care about in life, I still worry too much about things like failure, looking stupid, going bankrupt, getting fat, being single for life, and losing everything I have worked hard for (which isn’t really that much tbh). I mean, don’t get me wrong, those things are all important and I don’t want to go bankrupt, but this way of relating to life can lead to depression, anxiety, OCD, body dysmorphia, procrastination, social anxiety, performance anxiety, insomnia, and chronic stress.
“Not giving a fuck is not about being indifferent. It just means you’re comfortable with being different. Don’t say fuck it to everything in life, just to the unimportant things.”
However, this post isn’t about me, it’s about how moving away from perfectionist tendencies is the real key to giving less fucks, and the action steps necessary to live your best NFG lifestyle.
1. Change your identity
I’m not talking about your physical identity. If it was that easy I would just change myself into Beyoncé right now and call it a god damn day.
The good news is, there’s a way of relating to life that’s conducive to both achievement AND happiness.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, motivation is driven by identity-based habits.
“Many people begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve. This leads us to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits. With this approach, we start by focusing on who we wish to become,” – James Clear, Atomic Habits.
While it may seem hard to change our identity, it’s actually quite simple. We just need to decide WHO we want to be, and then prove it to ourselves with small wins
Who I want to be: I want to be a risk taker. Someone who gives fewer fucks and goes all in on things.
Small win: Enrol in a mentorship program that costs me money so that I will be all-in and totally invested in this next career move. A small and calculated risk that builds confidence in this new identity.
If I believe I’m a risk taker, I’ll avoid situations that could potentially contradict that belief. If I believe I’m the type of person who says yes to opportunities, I’ll seek out opportunities to prove that to myself over and over again. The belief always takes precedence.
We can shift our behaviours by building new habits and developing confidence in our new identity…an identity that does not GAF.
2. Cultivate confidence
There is this thing called the confidence-competency loop. Similar to the afore-mentioned, success accelerates when we are confident. The reason is simple. Without confidence, we revert to fear, and when we are fearful we don’t take any action. We get tentative, we delay and we procrastinate. When you are able to let go of fear, you take action more quickly and easily.
But how do I become more confident you ask?
We become more competent. As we become more skilled at a task or behaviour, our fear shrinks and our confidence grows. Once again, it’s about setting ourselves up for success with small wins.
For example: If someone asked me to shoot a basketball, I have 1000% confidence because I have literally taken 100,000+ shots, I’m confident because I’m competent. If someone asked me to snatch a heavy barbell, I’m much less confident because I lack competence and practice, so I fear failure and embarrassment.
It becomes MUCH easier to live the NFG lifestyle when we feel confident. So the key is to develop competency in those areas that we wish to give fewer fucks about!
3. Develop self-compassion
It might sound cray cray, but I actually fear that developing self-compassion will cause me to become apathetic and lose motivation. Perfectionism or bust. Self-criticism or complacency.
But this way of thinking is DEAD WRONG. We don’t need perfectionism to be successful and high-achieving. In fact, perfectionism is likely sabotaging our performance. People with self-compassion procrastinate less. They understand that although every action carries the potential of failure, mistakes will not irrevocably damage their human worth.
Think of your inner critic like a coach. While a coach absolutely has expectations for you and desires growth from you, they do not berate you or shame you (hopefully). They acknowledge your mistakes but encourage you to get back in the ring.
In order to truly give less fucks, we must give ourselves permission to be human, to learn from our experiences, and to see failure as an opportunity and greet it with compassion.
One way to practice self-compassion is to reframe our internal dialogue. Rather than beating yourself up, speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a friend in a similar situation. You absolutely would not call them a shitty failure, or a worthless piece of junk who will die alone? So, take the same approach with yourself, step outside of yourself and be that same compassionate person.
4. Drop the ego
To live the NFG lifestyle, it’s imperative to drop the ego.
Ego is perfectionisms ride or die homie. Ego holds us back from giving less fucks because we give into our desire to show off, to win, or to feel superior.
We are not our egos, we are not our jobs, we are not our material possessions, and we are not our achievements. To win is a foolproof method to avoid contact with our true self. The need to win is a never-ending rat race that will never allow us to step aside and reflect on our actions. We cannot win all the time. We must let go the need for recognition. Forget the need to to be right, and life will improve.
“We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul.” – Deepak Chopra
5. Know that you are going to die someday
Thinking about the impermanent nature of our physical being can be liberating. The NFG lifestyle means more YOLO.
The number one regret people have on their deathbed is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Seriously, the number one regret in life is GIVING TOO MANY FUCKS.
Get woke to the moment and permit yourself to be an imperfect human who lives life to the fullest and orders a waffle iron on Amazon prime to make some tasty MF Belgium waffles. Stop waiting to be happy. Eat a god damn waffle!
“If there is no reason to do anything, if life is pointless, then there is also no reason to not do anything. What do you have to lose? You’re going to die anyway, so your fears and embarrassments and failures don’t mean anything. You might as well try,” Mark Manson.
You might be thinking…sweet advice K, but how come you still give so many fucks?
Just like everyone, I’m a work in progress, but with some self-compassion and mindset shifts, hopefully, in another three years, I will be living my best NFG lifestyle.