Planning ahead and setting goals are good practice. However, if once we do so we become inflexible, we are setting ourselves up for failure. The writing process offers some valuable insight on the subject of planning and goal setting. Making a plan or setting a goal is akin to making an outline for an essay. That outline must then be followed by a shitty first draft, which requires editing. The editing process is an organic process that continues until our ideas are fully fleshed out and our intentions are presented with clarity and purpose.
The true goal of setting goals is to achieve something that’s not yet been attained. An initial idea will more often lead to a desired result if we include in our planning some space for reflection – some space for editing. Progress is not the result of a predetermined goal. Our determination, our firmness of purpose, is what needs to be inflexible – not the plan or the goal.
It doesn’t matter what chapter we’re on, it’s most important to know what type of story we’re in. Although we can’t control much of what happens, we do get to determine the genre of the story of our lives, because we get to choose how we live through what happens.
We learn from failing. In order to fail, we have to embrace the idea of bracing for impact. For that’s what affords us the opportunity to get back up and try again. If we choose to spend our time dodging obstacles or avoiding what we fear, we are really choosing to allow our minds and experiences to be stunted. We’ll grow old and gray while our minds remain adolescent and inexperienced. Avoidance is no fountain of youth, it simply creates mountains of ignorance that obstruct an enlightened view.
Growing up with old video game systems provided lessons that newer gaming with expansive and seemingly endless worlds and environments to explore don’t afford. If we wanted to get to Level 2, we had to first beat Level 1. They had a linear, point A to point B, design that forced players to figure out how to succeed past where they were getting stuck before moving forward. Getting stuck in life is no different. Continue anew until we get through the obstacle. There are no cheat codes to circumvent our own stucks.
To get the gist of something colloquially means to get the basic idea of it. However, gist is defined as “the substance or essence of a speech or text,” or “the real point of an action.” Synonyms include: essence, substance, quintessence, crux, nucleus and marrow. A far cry from having a basic understanding! We tend to feel that knowing a little about a lot of things somehow makes us cultured or well-rounded. But look to experts in any field and the opposite is true; they tend to know a great deal about very specific things.
Experts spend time gaining a deep understanding of the fundamentals through trial and error in form of practice, experimentation, inquiry, study, discipline, passion, curiosity, and/or experience. There’s a lesson here. Before we pride ourselves on our intellectual breadth, let’s first be sure we understand the gist of our intentions.
Dribbling a basketball serves as a wonderful life metaphor. It begins with potential energy converting into kinetic energy when we apply force. That force collides with a surface and Newton’s 3rd law enters: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
When practiced with patience and desire, this fundamental skill becomes part of our muscle memory. In other words: control is in our hands. We use our potential wisely so that it works for us. When standing still, dribbling is fairly effortless once our controlled initial force is applied. The ball returns, and we begin this rhythmic, graceful dance between wrist, floor and the space between.
However, this action gets complicated when we want to move, especially when we encounter obstacles. Therefore, we must learn to accept that spending the required time on the fundamentals is essential, so that when we choose to move, we can do so with the same control we have whilst standing still. We often get caught up being concerned about learning more, consuming as much new information and skill acquisition as possible as a means of taking leaps forward or to be flashy, instead of focusing on the basics. When we approach life in this manner, we rely more on luck than preparation. Practicing the fundamentals teaches us how to pivot with control and grace.
Provisions are “actions of providing or supplying something for use.”
Provisionary means something that’s “tentatively accepted or adopted.”
Visionaries are persons with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.
Visionaries make provisions that are provisionary.
We can play life like a game of chess, thinking several moves ahead. We have the ability to see beyond what’s right in front of us and consider multiple outcomes for the purpose of minimizing losses or maximizing gains. This is preparation.
However, we cannot afford to allow our egos to become tied down or overly attached to good ideas. We will always lose if we see our preparation as either the final outcome or guaranteeing an outcome we desire. Preparation, no matter how well executed, does not guarantee us anything. Look to nature for proof. The most masterful provisionary measures are no match for tidal waves and tornadoes.