“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Lao Tzu
Sounds great Lao but I have a few questions:
What direction should I go, how big a step, where am I going, how many breaks are along the way, do I have to walk the whole thousand miles, what shoes will I wear, how do you pronounce your name?
Too Much Choice
Today is known as the information age.
Where we are blessed/cursed with so much information.
This brings unlimited choices with it.
Having all those choices isn’t necessarily helpful.
It reminds me of Buridan’s ass, a fable about the paradox of free will.
In it a donkey, equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely in the middle of a stack of hay and a pail of water.
Faced with 3 choices, to go to the hay, to go to the water or to stay in the middle, he chose the middle.
The donkey died equally of hunger and thirst.
Choosing the middle is still a choice but it represents nothing.
Everything worth pursuing requires deliberate choice.
Today we are faced with unlimited choices, what can we learn from a donkey’s misfortune to not only survive but to pick something that is worthwhile.
What Do We Explore?
-There are things we can’t know, they are out of our reach.
Existential questions come to mind.
-Then there are things we don’t know yet, they are out of our reach for now.
What will our life look like in 5 years? I don’t know what it looks like now.
They are future based.
-Lastly there’s things we can know but don’t know, these are within our reach.
The first two require acceptance and patience in that order.
The last one requires effort of making a choice and then taking action.
These are things we can explore today, even now.
- How can I get that job I want?
- How do I lose weight?
- How could I start my own business?
- How can I start building this relationship?
- How can I have a better social life outside of work?
Those questions by themselves can be quite daunting.
Breaking these down into smaller steps can be much easier.
Looking to lose weight, do we need to go on a diet, give up drinking, exercise everyday, sleep more, do them all?
This should be easier.
So when our attention is pulled in every direction, faced with so many choices, what do we focus on.
Yes we want more money, freedom, better relationships, to look better, feel better but………
Where do we start?
This is something I have been exploring for quite some time.
Reading books, experimenting and researching what to focus on sent me down a rabbit hole.
I did learn a lot down there but I don’t recommend it to anyone.
It really helped me in what to focus on by applying the principles in it.
The main thing he talks about in the book is around a focusing question:
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
In other words, what can I do now that I feel will have a positive domino effect in this situation.
The ONE Thing Applied:
Recently I needed to revisit this question surrounding my career.
The bigger question:
How do I find the ideal career.
Unlimited choices left me feeling like that donkey, before he died of course.
A better question:
What would I be willing to put time and effort into, which would help people and I would enjoy?
Broken down again:
What mini experiment could I explore today that would put me in a better position to finding my next career?
In that I chose to do a couple of courses, meet a few people and work on a few projects which has left me closer to my goal of finding my next career.
Each choice was deliberately chosen and they were done step by step.
There is a lot I can’t know, some I don’t know yet and some I can know but don’t know yet largely because of fear.
My job now is to figure out which things I don’t know fall into which categories.
Then to choose the one thing from the ‘can know but don’t know’ category which would make everything else easier or unnecessary.
Today the ONE thing was sending an email.
I don’t get to decide whether it creates the domino effect I can just choose something I feel is worth exploring and take the first step.
With that explored I can choose my next step, I am not sure what that looks like but I am moving.
Deliberate step by step.
What’s your ONE Thing?
PS: The best strategy (a cheat) is to get on the donkey, bring him to the food, then the water and then start on your journey of 1000 miles.