Deciding and following

“The mind is a great servant but a terrible master.”


One tendency I struggle with is how to balance two modes:

  1. Deciding. Planning.

  2. Following. Executing on the plan.

Planning is satisfying. Following is also satisfying. But.

When the plan inevitably goes wrong, what do you do?

For me, rather than jumping back to following as quickly as possible, I re-enter planning. I start thinking:

One’s frequency of reassessment is delicate. Not enough, and you could walk down a foolish path for eons. Too frequent, and you spin around in circles, never making progress on any path.

This might be why goals are useful. A goal is grounded in a particular fantasy, whereas a plan is a means.

A plan falling apart can reveal an arbitrary goal.

One tricky case might be when the plan is the goal. For example, establishing a new process as the goal. For example, I’d like to get all of my queued up ideas for writing done as soon as I can. But really, I want the process of publishing to be smoother and faster. I can invent a goal—e.g., publish everything I’ve sketched out by the end of September—and make a plan. But if the plan falls apart, it may be difficult to conjure up again, because the goal was arbitrary.