The Internet is full of financial and life advice, most of which comes packaged in lists of no more than 15 easily digestible wisdom blurbs. Why lists? Based on their popularity (and my own browsing habits), I can only assume it’s because no one can resist the temptation to read a list. Call an article “How to Get Your Life Together, Guaranteed,” and you’ll be lucky to get a few hits. But title your piece “7 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Life in Order” and people won’t be able to click over fast enough.
What’s more compact and efficient than a list of ways to fix your life? I’ll tell you what: A list of lists of ways to fix your life. So in the service of streamlining your list-reading, self-flagellation and potential self-improvement, I present
- 11 things everyone should start doing in their 30s. A mix of completely vacuous (“Start learning from your mistakes”) and entirely obvious (“Start saving money”) advice. Enough items that really should apply to all people at all ages (“Start appreciating your family and friends”) that you start to wonder if the target 30-year-old for this list is also a sociopath.
- The 13 Biggest Money Mistakes People Make. These pretty much all boil down to “Not having enough money,” “Spending too much money,” or both.
- 10 Ways to Be Happier. They worked for this lady. Could they work for you? (Spoiler: probably not, but they’re generic enough that it won’t hurt to try.)
- 9 Success Habits of Wealthy People That Cost Nothing. Nothing but the time you probably don’t have. This list of cherry-picked anecdotal examples suggests that rich people are a bunch of hyper-enlightened, early-rising, to-do-list-making intellectuals. That may well be (though I doubt it), but the author implies causation when all he has is correlation. Case in point: I’m an academic, so everyone I know is an early-rising, to-do-list-making intellectual (and some of them are even hyper-enlightened), and yet none of them are rich.
- 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid in 2016. You thought you were getting advice about the specific financial considerations that this year’s market and political situation will bring. Surprise! These are the same mistakes to avoid in 2015, or 1998, or 2032.
- 5 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People. Successful people read, and care about their health, and get up early–we get it. Number 5, though, is terrible advice: “Successful people live each day as if it were the last.” Do not take this advice. Living each day as if it’s your last is a recipe for nihilism, poor planning and very bad decisions. It’s the opposite of provident.
- 10 Quirky Ways to Save Money. I’m not certain “quirky” is high on my list of desired attributes for money-saving tips. Most of these boil down to, 1) have you heard about these new things called apps? or, 2) can technology help you out here?
So there you have it: the list of lists to beat all lists. Feeling self-actualized, happy and wealthy yet?