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“Climbing up a metal wire ladder in a concrete tunnel” by Simone Acquaroli on Unsplash

Success Hacks: The Folly In Following Shortcuts

Success hacks are everywhere online. Every half baked personal development expert has one for you. But do quick fix success hacks really help you succeed or drop you deeper in the hole?

I received an email the other day that promised me “success hacks”, shortcuts, quick fixes to the realisation of my dreams.

“Ooh, wonderful!” I said. “Finally, the solution I’ve been looking for. God knows I’ve tried so many”.

“Maybe this one will work”.

Or maybe not.

The email was from a website whose material I once found interesting, or perhaps valuable. These days their stuff usually ends up in the spam folder.

And because I’m a little wiser now than I was when I signed up originally, their emails generally stay there.

To be honest, I don’t check my spam folders often, and so they are deleted without me even being aware.

But this one made it through, into my inbox and under my nose.

So I opened it.

Here’s what it said;

In the interest of giving these guys the benefit of the doubt, I went through the sign-up process.

Despite entering my details twice, I didn’t get the “hacks” they promised.


Dedication To The Work

Regardless, the email and the general thrust of the content brought to mind a popular idea that in recent times I have attempted to counter.

This idea, one we are so apt to adopt, says that we can achieve happiness, become fulfilled and find meaning in life through some shortcut, some hack or other.

It says that somehow we can outsmart the momentum of the universal creative force the Taoists call Ziran — that which comes of itself.

The Tao says; when we detach from the need for results to be a particular way, when we become patient and dedicated to the work, the results we want will come.

I have realised in recent times that The Artist’s Manifesto follows this Taoist idea.

The Artist’s Manifesto says; we must create, make and do whatever pleases us first, solely for the sake of it. Ulterior motivations, success hacks and quick fix promises will never get us there.

The “there” I refer to is happiness and fulfilment, and it is, the Tao says, available in the moment of now.

It is the engagement in a process, a process which is only apparent after the work is complete, that brings the happiness and fulfilment we crave.

The pursuit of anything else is a waste of time and life.

Until that is, we realise it. Then the fruitless pursuit shows its value.

The Artist’s Manifesto

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, without the need for applause. Grab your FREE PDF copy.

Unhappiness & Discontent

Now, I understand there is a market for this shit; success hacks, quick fixes and the like.

Everyone wants the solution, and everyone wants it today.

Nobody wants to work for it.

We want to know when and where the big win is coming. We want a secure, predictable future where everything will be bright and shiny.

If you can give us the promise of this better future, and show us a way to get there quick smart, we’ll buy it from you.

We fall for it every time.

We are dissatisfied and unhappy where we are you see, and we’re desperate for someone to show us how to fix it all.

Searching For Happiness

With this in mind, I did a quick Google search on happiness and here’s what I found…

There are 4,400 searches worldwide per month for the search term: “how to find happiness”.

For the search term: “how to be happy” there is an extraordinary 201,000 searches per month.

Ok, so they might not all be unhappy. There may be other reasons for these searches.

But it seems from my ad-hoc 10-minute research, and from surveys like the World Happiness Report 2017, that for most of the population of our planet, happiness is eluding.

And that comes despite material affluence.

In America, the report says, happiness is in decline.

What seems apparent from the little bit of reading I’ve done recently is that circumstances and events, wealth and economic stability are primary influences on happiness.

Our feeling of happiness is based on things outside us and even that being as we would like it, we still are unhappy.

How can we ever be truly happy if we are reliant on events being a particular way or materialistic measures of worth being up to expectation?

Isn’t this what the American dream, peddled by powerful industrialists in the aftermath of the 1930’s depression promised the American people?

Isn’t this what corporations still peddle today the world over?


How’s that working out?

Playing The Fool

With all these people searching for happiness, clicking links to quick-fix solutions and seeking answers from others, I wonder; are we making it all?

I mean, undoubtedly these sugar fix solutions to what are psychological problems in need of something much more substantial, wouldn’t exist if there were not eager fools like you and me willing to lap it up.

Maybe William Blake is correct when he said; “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise”. (Far too heavily used quote by yours truly!).

There is no future you see, none that is off somewhere next week or next year.

The idea of time as concrete, an absolute thing is an illusion.

In coming to terms with this truth we realise that happiness and unhappiness are not definitive, they are arbitrary states of mind and are ultimately immeasurable.

It’s like hot and cold; they are relative.

Stuff, material and financial gain, status and notoriety never get us where we want to be.

The only way we can experience that peace and contentment we crave is to get busy being that, whatever it is, now.

Sure, we might have to work for ten years to become skilled enough to make a living as self-employed, but where’s the problem in that?

What’s the hurry?

None of us are getting out of here alive, so we’d better get busy enjoying our work and being happy.

If your current work or life circumstance is not providing the engagement and fulfilment you need then better you make a change.

But be careful, because if you take your resentment and negativity with you, it’s likely you’ll create the same results all over again.

The Artist’s Manifesto

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, without the need for applause. Grab your FREE PDF copy.

It Starts Now

If life and success hacks are your bag then off you go, more power to you.

I hope you get what you’re after.

However, anyone who pursues solutions to problems via quick-fixes and hacks will sooner or later realise that they solve nothing.

The simple truth of the matter is that they exacerbate our problems.

I realise that all any of us ever wants is to be happy. I wish that for myself too, but I also understand that I’ve got to be that today because tomorrow never gets here.

There’s little point wishing for a better future because this is all we have.

We either make it better now, or we don’t.

We need to accept that the answers to our problems, the happiness and fulfilment we crave, don’t lie somewhere else.

It starts and ends here.

To be engaged entirely in something here and now, purely for the sake of it is where that happiness and fulfilment lie and it can be achieved by simple means.

Merely washing dishes or peeling spuds can be a route to feeling happy if only we could see they are not things we need to escape from.

Washing dishes by hand is a job I get enormous enjoyment from.

In my daily work, I get the same feeling.

When I draw, when I’m writing or even when I’m running I feel the same only higher.

I don’t always get there. Sometimes I have my mind on something else and I’m distracted — it happens to us all.

But I do know, that being focused and engaged in something without distractions is very pleasing.

That’s where it’s at for me.

It wasn’t always that way but these days that’s what I’m after.

I’ve come to know my own standards of work and I know that once I can have the space to work without distractions then the results will be satisfying.

I don’t care much for setting future goals. I’d rather be surprised.

In that place of single-minded focus, nothing is competing for my attention.

I have the blinkers on, I’m in it for the sake of it.

Forget About Success Hacks

Forget about success hacks and shortcuts, they don’t work and never will.

They’ll lead you down the garden path and you know it.

So next time you get a marketing mail from someone pretending to be doing you a favour by letting you in on the greatest secret in the entire universe…

Don’t even read it.

Delete it.

These emails are designed to keep you searching because without you continuing the search they have no business.

Besides, you have it already.

The Artist’s Manifesto

The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, without the need for applause. Grab your FREE PDF copy.

Originally published at on July 22, 2018.

Thanks For Reading

I’m Larry G. Maguire, writer and artist from Dublin, Ireland. I write Sunday Letters weekly for my growing readership - You can join them here.

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Larry G. Maguire

Larry G. Maguire

Work & Org Psychologist writing on the psychology of Work | Slight Perfectionist | Introverted | Humanist Socialist |