Sunday, June 8, 2014

Process

I've been thinking about money this morning. Not much of a surprise, really. I tend to reserve Sundays for boring adult shit, and not of the exciting unrated variety. Chores, mostly. Make sure the numbers in my head which represent what I think my finances are doing match the numbers floating about in the luminiferous ether, and if they aren't, I update one or the other until there's some sort of concordance. I also do cleaning, minor repairs, whatever needs to be done. Get every annoyance I can think of which would distract me during my relatively busy work week done so I don't have it wrecking my limited free time.

Boring, yes.

This entry really isn't going to be about personal finance, though. It's more about goal setting and how people (including myself) tend to fuck up.

I tend to get hung up on numbers and specifics pretty easy. It takes x amount in y account to create z result in the future. I need to have component a, component b, component c lined up before end result d happens. I have a tendency to plan my life like it's a line of dominoes and, if any of the dominoes aren't squared away correctly or have screwed up proportions, I tend to think that things won't work out.

Specific goals are easy to envision. They're easy to plan for. They slot into spreadsheets great. I do this in all sorts of things, not just money. Writing, getting caught up on reading. Planning vacations. Projects of all shapes and sizes.

Thing is, it doesn't work. Yes, it pays to have specific goals to shoot for, but the universe is a squibbly jellyfish of a thing that defies any sort of poking. No matter what your plans are, they will come undone. That's life.

If it's not the inherently chaotic nature of things, it's that you really have no idea whether your specific goals are achievable or even what you'll need when you get there. You need goals in the same way a ship's navigator needs a compass, but it's only one small part of the picture. Goals change because life changes--nobody can tell the future. What's more important is process.

And that's where a lot of people fuck up. I'm using the royal plural here because I do it, too, constantly.

You invest too much in the end result without stopping to think about the things you need to do along the way. You want to write a book, but fail because nobody just sits down to write a book. You want to run a marathon because you're too hung up on the notion of running a marathon to realize just how much conditioning it takes to get there. You want to get rich but don't think about all the things that people who do get rich have to do every day to get there. You get the idea.

What's more important is to recognize you have a goal and then make daily habits which support that goal without...and here's the important thing...getting too hung up on the big picture.

One of my favorite books is Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective agency. It was the first in Douglas Adams' other awesome series of novels. Not as famous, or as popular, as the big one, but just as entertaining.

The titular character had a habit when he was stuck for ideas in a case, of just randomly following people who looked like they knew where they were going. Invariably, it would lead him to answers. Not always the ones he was looking for, but answers nonetheless.

It was part of his process, following the universal zen until he came to some sort of revelation and settled the case.

Whenever I try too hard to reach a specific goal, I think about Dirk. Yes, it's stupid. No, you probably don't want to swan your way through life without a set goal, but there's a certain value to the approach. As long as you have daily habits which will get you there, I think just approaching each day as it arises is a good way to go about things. Not stressful. Pick a direction, hold steady and then just let things sort themselves out without getting too sussed about life.

Seems like this week is going to be another short story week.  The novel is going extremely well. I'm right around the middle of Act II, at the tipping point. At this rate I should finish some time this century and then...I'll shelve it and start the next. Such is life.

Update: daily totals for this week's writing challenge...631, 612, 1192, 628, 627, 875, 768. So, decent progress. Not enormously half-assed.

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