“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

AUTHOR: Mark Manson

AUTHOR: Mark Manson

Does this path give you fulfilment? Will this path take time away from things more precious to you like your hobbies or family? Will you be able to live with yourself if you had to do unquestionable things that you may not agree to? Will you one day look back and wish you had done things differently if you were given the chance to turn back time? These are some hard things to think about when put on the spot but creating this environment of stress actually triggers the truth out of people and you realise that you often put your time, happiness, health and and mental well-being to the side because these are things are taught to be secondary when it comes to a career decision. Wrong, wrong, wrong! These need to come first because in the long-run, these are things that will matter the most.  

To support Chapter 2 “Fitting for a Global Profession” for the Diplomatic Planner we recommend the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by entrepreneur Mark Manson. DISCLAIMER: the author throws around the f-bomb a lot in his book, so you may need to get past the hard language to grasp some of the great advice he shares. 

Happiness in a career. Why does that matter? Every person has a purpose, whether it’s to be the best sibling, a great leader, or to be generous. Unfortunately, such purposes tend to be obscured by the human desire to build careers and make money. We have a multitude of options available to us, yet we feel stressed and unfulfilled because we are trying to do it all. By attempting to do it all, we end up concentrating on all of our different choices and opportunities all at the same time which will lead to little result and total burn-out.  

This book is raw. It is all about self-development that doesn’t focus on avoiding problems or trying to be happy all the time because that isn’t possible. As humans, we need to go through a range of motions to help us build character and live rich experiences. Rather, the book engages us to improve upon problems and learn to accept occasional setbacks and unhappiness and just accept things as it is. By limiting what we do, we will be happier and better people.

The Diplomatic Planner tries to do just that: limit options so that you succeed in becoming the best in a specific area. Limiting options is a good thing when you know what you want to limit yourself to. That doesn’t mean pigeonholing yourself in a career you might one day get tired from, it is focusing on something that you genuinely feel passionate about and growing your trade around something that gives you a higher level of satisfaction than doing a job you took up just to pay the bills or use it as a stepping stone. Only take up the struggles you consider worthwhile and accept that some things will mean pain but welcome that pain.

In his book, Manson asks us to ask ourselves: “For what purpose do I suffer?” Turning suffering into happiness requires focusing on your purpose and values, all of which we explore in the “Diplomatic Planner”. If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life, it is important to uncover your purpose because doing so will help you focus your energy and determine what you should give a fly about.

While much of this might sound very spiritual and lifted from Eastern culture, the questions that Manson forces us to think about are things that we should think about on a daily basis. Let me stress that this book is not about positivity or being carefree. It is more about being strategic with the choices you make for yourself and finding alignment with what you do every day to your overall wellbeing. There is a huge difference. Human beings are flawed and limited. As quoted by the author: “Not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” The ability to prioritise ourselves in a world where we are bombarded by information and competition, and the eventual feeling of inadequacy is terrible for our mental health. It chips away at our confidence and eats into our overall purpose. Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them, which I applaud. Once we embrace our fears, faults and uncertainties, once we stop running, avoiding and confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, honesty, forgiveness, curiosity, responsibility and the perseverance that we seek.

Throughout his book, Manson focuses us to concentrate on these three areas:

1. Ask yourself why you do things - for instance, if you are working hard to earn money, ask yourself why you want to ask money in the first place

2. Question your motives to come closer to discover what your true purpose is - Manson advices that we act and suffer in ways that will advance us and I agree

3. Define which values are bad for you - these are usually things we have no control over like fame which is entirely dependent upon what other people think

The reason why we recommend this book for further reading is because completing a lifelong plan requires you to ask yourself existential questions related to every aspect of your life. It is important that you find values that will help you reach your purpose, but to discover your purpose, you need to be able to look inwardly and see what matters the most to you from how you spend your time to the impact you want to make. The right values can help you work through failures while learning valuable lessons. Which route you take will depend entirely on your purpose and your values. As Manson states: “if you hold the value to ‘do something’, you will be forced to act, even if you’re in pain”. The more we abide the principle of limiting our choices to a select few quality choices, we will experience freedom and feel happiness guided by our actions.  

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Diplomatic Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register