I need not
I want not
I care not
I am not

Sounds super stupid doesn’t it?

Like some kind of wannabe Zen master you’d find on Twitter, telling people Ego is the Enemy and to Be in Your Power.

It’s sort of out of character for me but I don’t always make the rules around here. Sometimes things pop into my head and they work. I’m a radical pragmatist, so if an outlook or idea works, I use it without worrying too much about its truth value in all cases.

Of course I need stuff, want stuff, care about stuff, and exist. But, crazy or not, this sequence of phrases has been a wonderful mindset the last week, and I’m taking in to 2020.

Let me back up.

On New Year’s Day 2019 I went for a walk. A phrase popped into my head.

Stay above the fray.

I adopted it for 2019 and returned to it often. Turned out to be timely and very useful. There were a lot of fruitless frays last year. I avoided the worst of them.

But 2019 still totally kicked my ass. Hardest year of my life. I won’t get into reasons (I’ll probably spend more time on it in my weekly newsletter for the low low price of $5 a month if you act now! I’ll throw in a squeegee and fridge magnet if you’re one of the first five callers. Just kidding. But you can subscribe if you want more stuff on startup struggles).

So last week, feeling beat down from the year, this new mantra just popped into my head. I said it out loud. Each phrase one at a time, slowly, my eyes closed, and really meaning it. I mean really meaning it. That’s how worn out I felt. I really got to the point where I could say, “I need not. I want not. I care not. I am not.” And actually feel the total detachment those words convey.

What the hell is, “I am not” even supposed to mean?

I don’t know. But I know that the stress vanished and I felt physically lighter. My shoulders relaxed. It was a like a mission was accomplished and I could let go. I wondered if I was going to die or something, because I had essentially made my peace with a total cessation of striving. Not like me.

Spoiler: I didn’t die.

So here I am in 2020. I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I’m not kidding. I can’t attribute it to anything that makes much sense on the surface, especially considering nearly all of 2019 was so damn hard. But I’m having a blast and feeling free. I’m not stressed, despite trying to build a second startup that is far from success so far.

I’m just here needing not, wanting not, caring not, and….being not?

Whatever. It works.