Monday, July 16, 2007

Of Ends and Means

Last month, I celebrated having more "good" days than "bad" days.  Indeed, it was the first month I could remember in which I'd done so.  And the good days just kept on coming, till it seemed like they would never end.

But then I had a "bad" day today, the first one this month.

It seems I ran afoul of my own good intentions once again. I started pushing myself, instead of letting myself be pulled. I started thinking about all the things I "should" do, instead of thinking of them done.

As I started to think about everything that needed doing, all I could see was mountains of work piling up around me in every direction, and I wanted out.

In my blind panic, I forgot the basics: when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Thinking about what you "have to do" doesn't help -- only thinking about it being done will help.

When you envision what you "have to" do, this seems to your mind like a threat. If the threat is small, you may easily deal with it. But as the "threats" grow more numerous, your brain panics, and seeks escape as the only logical option.

However, thinking of a result is different. It's not a dozen threats, it's a single opportunity for reward. It's clear and actionable. It's motivating. Best of all, it opens up your intuition and creativity to see the shortest path between you and the result.

Think of it this way: what makes life difficult is confusing ends and means. When you think about the means, your life and work seem never to end. When you think about the ends, on the other hand, you will know what your life and work means.

So, if you are thinking that something you want is too difficult, too time-consuming, not possible, or in some other way closed off to you, think again.  Literally!  But when you think again, think about the thing you want, not what you're going to have to do to get it.