When to Cheat

I made a realization today.

The realization isn’t surprising, shocking, revelatory, or an epiphany. If anything it’s controversial. It’s simply this: cheating makes life easier.

But only under the following conditions:

  1. There are no negative consequences in cheating
  2. All rules are made up or self-inflicted
  3. No one will ever know
  4. No one would even care if they knew
  5. Nothing is really at stake (rewards, money, integrity, eternal salvation...). This is about cheating when cheating isn't really cheating.

For example, I admitted in my last post that I was going to attempt posting every day this month, as I did the previous two years. I also admitted to cheating a little the last two years. The cheating didn’t matter at all. I’m pretty sure I never back-dated anything more than an hour or two. All it did was maintain a status in my head that kept me posting every day.

I didn’t cheat this year. And the result? I’ve missed three days. Had I just cheated the first day I missed I would have felt an obligation to keep posting. Now? Not so much.

So, if you’re on a diet with rules you made up and you screw up and eat donuts all day, cheat and pretend you didn’t mess up. You’ll feel much better the next day and less likely to spend another day eating donuts. You haven’t failed simply because you violated a rule you made up.

Of course, it does no good to cheat every day. “I posted every day!” is a complete lie and is in no way excusable when you wrote 30 posts on the last day of the month and back-dated them all. You may as well write thousands of posts and claim you’ve been blogging since 1980. No one will believe you (especially if you were born after 1980).

What do you think? Am I going to be strapped to a waterboard with sinister* demons pouring water on my head for all eternity? Do you cheat?

* First time I’ve ever used ‘sinister’ in a blog post.



  1. Alex

    When I was 11 my dad told me, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but no matter what happens, always cheat.” then when my mom yelled at him he quickly clarified with a description of cheating that was very similar to yours.

    So I “cheat” all the time.