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Plan to Stop Sucking and Kick Ass

My goodness, I’ve achieved balance! Yes, I write about how impossible that is, but I have arrived, and the funny thing— it’s not enough!

I’m sick of being pretty darn good at a lot of things and not great at anything. My life is a mile wide and an inch deep. I want to live more than a balanced life; I want to live an unmistakably remarkable life. I feel very self-conscious about these ambitions; I mean we’re supposed to chill and be content, man. Like, let your ego go, be one with The Universe, ride the wave, don’t force it, baby.

The thing is this:

I think I can make an unmistakably remarkable life and also contentedly merge with The Everything— now and then.

So to be definitive, here is what I mean by an unmistakably remarkable life:

Complete Autonomy. I have enough clout in the world, enough cash in the bank, enough skill in my quiver, and a healthy mind and body to decide for myself, what’s next.

Passionate Community. I’m consistently connected to people whose actions line up with their beliefs— vital, loving, people who are working hard to make the world more beautiful and peaceful.

High Impact. The work I do affects a lot of people for the better. I’m recognized as one of the leaders in the larger passionate community.

Oneness with The Universe, Man. No kidding, and I don’t want to be afraid of dying either.

As mentioned, my problem is focus. I’m quite good at focusing and finding Flow, setting priorities each day, and making each week count, but I’m not focusing my attention long term, and that’s what a remarkable life requires. So, I designed a method I call the Kicking Ass Plan for the Year. Below is a video showing my process for creating my own Kicking Ass Plan for the Year and below it is the final version of my plan. But first, I offer you the basic questions to ask yourself when creating yours. They evolved from this ancient zen kōan.

To kick ass, one must also not kick ass.

Based on this guiding principle, I developed a hierarchy, a schema for prioritizating your roles and goals. The questions to answer are brutally simple.

In what 1 role and goal will you kick ass?

In which 3 roles and goals will you only get very good?

And in which of the rest of your roles and goles will you either stop sucking, stop sweating, or stop all together?

The video


This video shows how I shaped my Kicking Ass Plan for the Year. I shot it in one take and then sent it to a few friends to see if I was the right amount of crazy. I also sent it to Chris Brogan whom I just met. He watched it, liked it, then tweeted it to 210,000 followers. A couple hundred of them saw it, and a dozen or so gave me such encouraging feedback, I thought, maybe I’m on to something.

My Kicking Ass Plan for the Year


Here it is. My plan boiled down to one big ass goal, 3 large ones, and a bunch of stuff to stop doing. I put it here for a couple reasons. First, so you can see the results of the process demonstrated in the video. If you find it useful, please let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll run a workshop to try it out live. I’ll also make it one of the 10 Attention Management Tools I’ll finish this year (see Kick Ass below). And don’t forget to sign up for updates.

The other reason I splay it out for all to see is to scare me into an awesome feeling of accountability.

Kick Ass

As a Producer before I die, I want to connect 1,000,000 people to doing something that matters, and this year I will produce 10 valuable Attention Management Tools to help them do it.

To kick ass on this one goal I’ll focus half of my time in the next 12 months on the little goals that will get me there. Kicking ass is more about learning to kick ass than the actual ass that gets kicked. I’m going to go at this as though, if not this year, then soon enough after, I will be better at turning ideas into real tools that people use than anyone I know. That’s kicking ass.

Get Very Good

As a Connector, I’ll engage 10,000 readers to signup for Pilot Fire updates. (I have 114 now. Ouch.)

As a Stoker, I will exercise every day. I need to keep this body fueled up if I’m going to kick ass.

As a Singer, I will finally get decent at singing through my bridge. It probably means I’ll do a concert or two mid-2013. Everyone here is invited.

That’s it!
That’s all I’m going to try hard to do.
The rest is about stopping.

Stop Sucking

Stopping sucking refers to the things I do poorly enough that they get in the way of kicking ass. Most of them just need better systemization and many can be automated. Here are a few things I need to do very soon so I can free up my brain, body, and the flow of money:

As a Millionaire (I like that role better than Financial Manager),

  • Get my monthly money review back in gear.
  • Setup a better system for tracking and billing students.
  • Setup my new bank accounts with autopay.
  • Get everyone notified about my new address.
  • Get back my savings chops.
  • Get my health plan figured out and automate claims.
As a Pilot,
  • Get back to Inbox (0) every time I look at it.
As a Connector,
  • Learn how to not suck at Twitter.
As a Homemaker,
  • Get that smell out of my closet and put in some good shelves.
  • Chuck most of my files.
  • Get my grocery habits back in shape.
As a Divorcee,
  • Finalize my divorce. We’re all done basically; we just need to file.

Stop Sweating

In past years, I set ambitious goals so I can be my best in every role. Well, I’ve worked very hard to get good enough in all of these. If I want to kick ass as a Producer, I gotta stop sweating my roles as Teacher, Friend, Lover, Gardener, Artist, Father, Breadwinner, Millionaire, Speaker, Writer, Cook, Designer, Homemaker, Brother, Double Divorcee, Meditator, Tennis Player, Son.

That doesn’t mean I will ignore my daughter and my mother. It just means no ambitions goals like in past years, in fact, very few goals at all! Let ‘m ride, no sweat.

Stop

Finally, there are some things I love to do and just have to stop doing. I’m going on faith that giving them up will set me free to kick ass.

As a Homemaker, I must stop doing home improvement projects. I just moved into a place that needs some work but I’m going to wrap up the projects I’ve started by the end of July, and wait at least year before I do anything else.

As a Breadwinner, I’m on the fence about tuning down design clients for the next 3 months. I make most of my money as a UX designer but it takes a lot of time, about 20 hours a week. I’ve never advertised, and I’ve always had enough money to get by. I’ll consult my financial advisors on this one.

As a Self-Soother, I’m going to cut out all TV, movies, and porn (unless I’m sharing them with someone). I’m hoping to find other ways to manage the visits from loneliness, anxiety, and rejection. Maybe exercising every day will help.

As a Singer, I just quit my choir, the Conspiracy of Beards. Giving up one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in is a huge act of faith. When I get more tenor skills, I’ll probably join again.

As a Man, I just quit the men’s group I started 18 years ago. I’m still loved and still love— just not with regular meetings.

As a Lover, I am going to stop chasing girls. I really really love to chase girls, especially sexy old broads and hard-assed bitches and slippery young thangs and MILFs and genius nerdy sex pots and sweet curvy tender love kittens and jock chicks that’ll run me ragged up a dusty trail and leave me panting writhing in the dirt alone with my palpating heart only to return with a few drops of water and a kick at the bottom of my shoe to say ‘you coming or what?’ Oh, and artist babes that are too busy making stuff. I love to chase them, too.

It’s not like I’m a drooling, grunting Tasmanian Devil. The truth is that I carry a wound from a recent failed marriage, and the sweetness of intimate conversation, cuddling, and hot sex helps heal my soul. It’s a little like a drug though, and my pursuits have consumed way too much of my attention. Plus, I put my heart into it, and the heartbreak part just hurts, ya know?

So, I’m not giving up on women, but I’m not going to chase them any more. Here’s the rule: I won’t ask any women out for a whole year. I quit the internet dating sites last week, and after a couple dates I’ve already committed to, no more initiating plans for this man. If they want me, they’ll have to have to ask me. (Wish me friggin’ luck on that one.)

My friend Ken generously offered to join me on this goal. He’s gay.

Oh, and I’m giving up my lessons on topping.

As an Active Citizen, Friend, Teacher, Brother, Man in the World, I will not offer help to anyone. I do this all the time. And when I get a “sure, why not?” I dig in and give. No more. You want my help, you gotta ask.

The Makings of Remarkable?


I don’t know if this will satisfy my ambitions. In a year I’ll let you know how it’s going and if I want to do it again. In about ten years, you let me know if I got there. In the meantime, let me know in the comments:

Am I the right amount of crazy?

Find out what happened!
Stopped Sucking. Now Kicking Ass? Part 2
7 Surprising Answers: Did David Delp Kick Ass?


NOTE: I credit my 50-minute conversation at the 2012 World Domination Summit with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists) and Cal Newport with giving me the motivation and the model to pare down and kick ass.

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Leave a comment24 comments on "Plan to Stop Sucking and Kick Ass"

  1. Dang, dude, you are on (pilot)fire there! I can definitely see your passion to make some big changes and narrow your focus to what really matters. I’ve often said that in life, if you work really hard, you can be great at one thing and a good amateur at a few more.

  2. Not asking girls out? It’s going to be fun keeping you honest on this one!

    I applaud your efforts here, though. I don’t think I have nearly as many roles as you do… and still I find it difficult to set one priority.

    -Stu

  3. plan it! superstar !

  4. David! You are a superpilot! You are lit up and on fire! I especially notice an underlying theme of moving away from the needs of others and their vision, to stoking your own needs and visions! Very powerful as well as inspiring!

  5. You’ve inspired me! I’ve just recently started a business venture and I want it to be really successful. I need to better organize myself and focus my energies on a few things instead of everything at the same time.

    I’m ready to travel this journey with you. Lets do it, Dave. Lets Kick Ass!!!!

  6. Thank you everyone. This feels so right for me. Your encouragement is so appreciated! Let me know if this process seems like something you’d like to try. A couple of my students are doing it, and it’s very challenging.

  7. Wow! David, there’s so much here that I can’t dig in deep, tonight. But I’m grateful that I met you at World Domination Summit this year.

    Like you, I share a dream of living a remarkable, passionate life.

    Thanks so much for this inspiration (and kick in the pants- holy moly!)
    Will be back, I hope, with better commentary :)

  8. Great stuff! I wish you way more than luck. I know you’re going to kick ass.

  9. This really struck a chord with me “I’m sick of being pretty darn good at a lot of things and not great at anything. My life is a mile wide and an inch deep.” I think this is a problem that many freelancers, entrepreneurs and work-at-home parents have. Then can do so many different things, there are many distractions from DOING something every day towards a long term goal.

  10. Wow! Your video is awesome…such sincerity! You describe beautifully relatively complex content while still showing your personality, confidence, vulnerability and excitement.

    This year is going to be amazing, and I look forward to reading about (and learning from) your experiences.

  11. Reading this made me send it to a bunch of other people to get them reading. I can feel a ton of raw emotion and passion behind this and I’m glad you’re doing this. It’s inspiring. You now have a permanent home in my RSS feed. I’m glad Ryan Nicodemus tweeted this post.

  12. Awesome jump into the deep end of the accountability pool!

  13. Hey David, I’ve been mulling over your video (which was so awesome to see and hear you!) and I’ve got a thought rumbling around that I want to get out. It’s around the goals to be great and have an impact. There is something uncomfortable to me in the vagueness with which I experience these from you. I mean, Hitler was great at something and he made a big impact. So….what kind of impact do you want to make? Do I welcome your bigger impact? Who is doing the measuring and what is the gauge that “great” and “impact” are measured with? It hit me as very ego-validation craving, yet I know that’s not where you are. Something more is definitely going on in you, and it’s powerful, and yet you’re only giving us the surface of it.
    And, thank you for the opportunity for me to experience my own discomfort with accepting greatness, as I’m sure that has a lot to add to my perspective here!
    Thanks for stepping into the center ring, ripping your clothes off, and let us all experience you!! YUMMY

    • Colleen,

      Thank you so much for expressing your discomfort— along with your support. I think the ego-centric vibe of this post makes me uncomfortable, too, and in the video I don’t say much about what I hope becoming great at something will do for me.

      First, my big goal is to have a remarkable life, which above is defined as being a leader in a community of people working hard to make the world more beautiful and peaceful. Developing the skills to contribute at that level is key to my personal mission and beliefs.

      Then, there is the meta level of getting great at anything. I believe mastering anything difficult can apply to almost anything else in life that is difficult. I just hope the specific skills I foster are also valuable and lead me where I want to go.

      And finally, yes, you will welcome my impact if you believe making the world more beautiful and peaceful is a good thing. Clothes on and off, it will be a yummy ride.

  14. Yow. I truly admire the courage it took for you to not only do this but to do it publicly. That takes some major vagina. I was going to say balls but I said vagina. I think you are on the right track in terms of what you chose to jettison. Self soothing is not inherently bad but there are healthier ways. I really relate to this posting because I have the same problem – too many different things, spread too thin. I think you should keep art in there somehow though – it doesn’t matter what kind (singing, painting, whatever) but keep it in there somehow, just to do, not to worry about doing well. Perhaps art can be your healthy self soothing. Oh, and I’d love to find out if you would consider sending me your unwanted UI work, if you’re comfortable with that. Heh. I think you are doing the right thing by simplifying and focusing. Doing so is smart and good. And know you’re already great, so be happy!

    • Catherine, Thank you! I was recently banned from a “men’s” support forum for dads going through divorce because I strongly suggested there was a better way to deal with an ex-wife than to dominate her with the shock and awe of someone prepared for serious battle. I was accused of having a vagina. I should have suggested I have “major vagina.” BTW, I’m not giving up new UX clients yet. I need the money right now. Thanks for the offer if I decide to go that way.

      • Oy vey. Then that is one men’s group not worthy of you. I think that particular men’s group might benefit from being infiltrated by some major vagina. Thanks also for keeping me in mind re: UX.

  15. David,

    This kicks ass. I’m so excited for you and glad I met you during the year that you will kick even more ass this year.

    Thank you for your candor and willingness to open up to go big.

    Your fan,

    Cynthia

    p.s. I love your writing.

  16. This sounds like the right plan for you, but all at once? – I wonder if you’re trying to make too many HUGE changes all at the same time and if that won’t backfire – it has been my experience that small changes stick – huge changes boomerang/ricochete/bounce back – what say you?

    • Are you kidding? Small steps are where it’s at. This scares the shit out of me! Glibness aside, I totally agree with you, but I’m riding a long six months of giant changes. See here: http://pilotfire.com/are-you-facing-big-change/
      And this feels like the challenge I need right now. I may fail, but I won’t regret trying. It feels good so far. Please keep in touch and let me know how I’m doing.

  17. You need the violet flame. You need to clear your past life karmas in order to galvanize your future. Only through forgiveness and mercy towards yourself, others and Life itself can you accelerate.

    You also should read the work of a biologist named Ray Peat who writes about nutrition and hormonal topics. You should also start tracking your morning temperature. Make sure in addition to the roles you’ve mastered, you are also healthy. If you have a low temperature you will be less effective and will age badly. A higher metabolism and higher body temperature= better. You might read Matt Stone’s 180 blog for more info.

    You can’t kick ass if your body is cold:
    http://www.mall-net.com/mcs/coldbody.html

  18. Yes, you are the right amount of crazy, David! I’m so glad that you linked to this article from your comment on mine about getting somewhat insane with a Continuous Creation Challenge.

    I don’t believe I’m at a point in life where I can undertake a year-long challenge like this one. Especially with kid #2 arriving sometime in September. But I’d love to check out one of your Attention Management Tools if it’s related to ending the suckiness and starting the kick assingness.

    Also, is there a “lite” version of this challenge to yourself (and everyone else) for people like me who can’t commit to a year-long effort or on as grand a scale as you are (awesomely) going to rock it?

    • I’m with ya, Joel. I can’t wait to hear about your process.

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