How to Deselect: Life Hacking 101

Mar 3, 2016

We are all familir with the art of time management of workflows, making lists, etc. We are also familiar with the click-bait of popular topics known under the umbrella term that is life-hacking. But instead of adding, growth hacking and optimizing your way — what about the art of saying no?

If our most limited resource is time, not opportunity, then to learn how to deselect things, habits, self-defeating ideas and even people from our life is therefore the key to success.

Sucess not in any financial sense, but in the sense of living according to our authentic self and self-actualizing in a way that isn’t totally ego-centric and individualistic.

This is a bit like reverse-psychology, it’s an exercise in experiential reinforcement.

Here is the fine art of deselecting life that makes room for new life.

1- Identity what you are not getting enough of?

It is sleep, is it money, perhaps it is social support or even love. Now, remove those things which are barriers to it.

Example: I don’t get enough sleep because I take on too much work, so by working less and spending more time at the gym, I’m able to not only sleep more, but better. Ironically, this will improve my productivity at work.

2- Identify Personal Character Defects

Now I might be very attached to my character defects, but I still need to learn how to balance them a bit to mitigate the damage to my colleagues, my partner and the key people in my life.

Example: I’m too nice, I know this to be true. I’m a total pushover and try to please everybody. I have to train myself to be an ass-hole sometimes, to have a thick skin, to learn how to say no, to get from others what I want. Instead of being altruistic, helpful and sensitive, I need to also to be able to manipulate & exploit in order to win.

So then when I need a trump card, I pull out being “nice” and you know what, I’m good at it! Because, that’s all I used to be good at.

3- Cultivate Planned Dissonance

Going against our natural flow and crossing our boundaries can be useful. Do your MBTI test and define your general personality. Then, do activities that are totally opposite to your comfort zone. Challenging yourself intentionally can be a valuable learning experience.

Example: I’m an INFJ, I have my head in the clouds. So by forcing myself to try things and activities with totally different personalities that require me to be concretely involved in my senses and spontaneous, I am seriously challenged. But this is good for me. Experience is the best teacher.

4- Start a Stop Doing List

Remember that list you used to make with awesome stuff like meditating, going to the gym, going to special countries, learning new languages, books you wanted to read. What happened to that list? To make time for doing that stuff, now that we are grown up and have responsibility, we have to make a different kind of list.

Example: We all have habits we’d prefer we didn’t do. I spend too much time on social media, on video games, on video on demand marathons of Korean romantic comedies and well, that thing some people call procrastination. By making a list of the things I want to stop doing, I’ll take baby steps to reduce my consumption of zero-gain activities.

5- Start a Feeling Map of the People in your Life

This is the one you were waiting for, deselecting people who draw our energy and bring us down is one of the oldest tricks in the book. By it’s very necessary and is a normal part of aging. Deselecting people who no longer match our values, our lifestyle, our ambitions, our self-growth is absolutely THE essential step to this. Deselecting people is exercising our freewill. Let this sink in, because for some folk, this isn’t entirely intuitive.

Deselecting people is exercising our freewill.

People think time is the resource that’s perceived to be the greatest lack, it’s not.

Quality people can be the most powerful catalyst to living authentically, more than anything else perhaps. So it’s in our best interest to get this down pact.

I charge you with the following task. Make a list of the emotions people in your life typically allow you to experience. Is it a wide range? Is it more expansive than contracting? Is it complex, enriching and reading? This is an easy test anyone can make with anybody they know.

Example: Maybe I have outgrown an old friend or gone a separate way in terms of how my values have evolved over the years with my romantic partner. This is okay, and sometimes quite natural and organic. By not engaging with that friend and breaking up with that romantic partner, I am freeing myself for the universe to send me people more aligned with my new stage of the journey.


  • Notice that this is a subjective as well as an objective exercise, with intrinsic and external consequences.
  • This is the un-learning life-hackers love to tell us about.
  • This is disruptive, and is about habit breaking and reconditioning ourselves cognitively or moreover, a pursuit of lifestyle management optimization (LMO).
  • This is in my own psyche and in relation with my environment. This is a choice, to create space.
  • This is a choice, to optimize my time that is shared & limited on this planet.
  • This relates to how I experience reality and altering my frames of reference to enhance my self-growth as a human being and all that it encompasses.
  • This is the conviction that to align my experience, activities and intention with my inner most core values is one of the keys to living a fulfilling existence for, however many years I am granted.

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