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Is Your Life a Flower or a Machine? Organic Life vs. Inorganic Projection
I have a question for you. Do you try to force life into a rigid grid of expectations, or does it flow and grow like a flower in bloom or a vine weaving its way around a trellis?
In my experience, we become miserable when we insist that reality fit into a narrow band of predetermined notions of how things should go. It's better to let your goals, hopes, and ambitions have some space to grow and evolve and bend like the natural world.
Goals Get You Through the Suck Phase. Then, It's A Back and Forth
Have you ever gone surfing or skiing? At first, you completely suck and have to just thrash it out. You have to persist through the suck phase. At this point, trying to get too much feedback from your situation is difficult. You are such a novice and have so little clue that you are just literally keeping your head above water (or snow). So I don't advise worrying too much about pivoting or tweaking or adapting at first. You have to learn some basic technique and keep flailing until you can stand up and flow. However, soon thereafter, you need to start looking at feedback from life. What's actually happening? What's working? What's fun? What seems to unfold effortlessly, and what is an uphill climb all the way (sometimes that's ok, though).
Here's an example from the world of work. Have you ever noticed how often companies in their early stages "pivot" in a new direction? This is likely the very moment when the founders shift from an inorganic grid of expectations to something more fluid--when they are letting feedback from the real world influence and shape what they are trying to accomplish. How many more great companies would exist if more founders in the early days had been willing to shift to an organic back and forth with customers and other stakeholders?
So the best approach is quite subtle. It's a combination of pushing out and trying things. Yes, having goals, ideas, and visions. Then, shifting to an ebb and flow--do do do, then allow feedback and energies from outside to also shape what is happening.
To reiterate, this isn't purely passive. You aren't just letting the wind blow you where it may. You generate goals and desires, but you let them harmonize with life's gusts, energies, and opportunities. The best analogy might be sailing, where you are constantly trimming your sails based on external conditions, yet still working your way in a certain direction.
Create and let something great happen rather than force it. It's not rigid and symmetrical. How far would the sailor get if he insisted that his boat sail exclusively towards one point on the compass without any deviation? When we are fixated with military precision on a very specific outcome, we may become brittle, tight, arrogant, angry, or foolhardy.
Pursuing organic loveliness also tends to be more realistic. You allow life to be messier (like the natural world). It's not such much about lowering your standards as it is not expecting clarity from the start of every venture and expecting everything (and yourself) to fit in a rigid grid and box.
So let your life flower into something great, rather than insisting on abstract perfection.