June 6th, 2008

Good Advice

I’m normally one for keeping a clean text messaging inbox – once I read it, it’s gone. There’s a lot of reasons for it, but one is that I can’t create folders on my phone for some stupid reason, so I don’t have a good way to store them. So normally when I go to my inbox, it’s got the one or two messages I haven’t read yet, or else it’s empty.

A while back, though, I got a text message from a friend of mine that I’ve kept in the inbox ever since. It was meant as some tongue-in-cheek advice, but, funnily enough, it struck me in its simplicity:

“Don’t screw it up!”

I think right there in that little sentence, you get every self-help book ever boiled down into one manageable phrase. The idea of having all this good stuff around and in your life is something easily forgotten and sometimes we get anxious about all of it. To that, my friend says, “Don’t screw it up!”

  • A new friendship just getting off the ground? “Don’t screw it up!”
  • A new pet? “Don’t screw it up!”
  • A new job? “Don’t screw it up!”
  • Remodeling your home? “Don’t screw it up!”
  • Giving a speech in front of a convention? “Don’t screw it up!”
  • Redoing the effects in films loved by milions? “Don’t screw it up!” (Sorry we didn’t get this to George Lucas sooner, folks)
  • Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow with a sonic screwdriver? “Don’t screw it up!” (Dr. Who only)
  • Really, most situations in life: “Don’t screw it up!”

There’s a laid-back quality to the advice that appeals to me – rather than working hard at making something right, work at not making something wrong.

I’m sure this won’t appeal to anyone else like it has appealed to me, but I thought I’d share it for that .001% out there that thinks like me.

Leaving a comment on this entry? “Don’t screw it up!”

5 Comments on “Good Advice”

  1. Meags says:

    I keep all my old texts.. but mine are sorted into "threads" like gmail.

  2. Brian Arnold says:

    I really think you should be careful with that piece of advice. I think it's solid for some things, but applying it too much will simply make you paranoid and fearful.

    I disagree that most situations in life will have that. "Don't screw it up" implies "Don't take any risks" to me, and if one never takes risks, well, life would be boring. I'm not saying go drive like a crazy fool or anything, but be willing to try something different, etc.

    Don't screw it up, sure, but don't live in fear of screwing it up either.

  3. Sizzledowski says:

    I never thought to save texts until recently.

    If you're looking for minimalistic, "don't screw it up" is a good motto, but at the same time, Brian has a good point — don't let it make you view everything in pessimism.

  4. Greg says:

    On the other hand, there are some of us that live just to "screw it up" and see what happens…

    I wonder about those people.

  5. Steven says:

    I agree with Brian too. The fear-based perspective from which this mantra is spoken outweighs the message I think it is trying to convey.

    Shouldn't we focus on giving our absolute best effort to everything we do rather than doing just enough so that it doesn't get "screwed up?"

    "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self discipline."

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