“Under the comb, the tangle and the straight path are the same.” — Heraclitus
This quote from the 500 BCE philosopher is still as important today as it was about 2,517 years ago. Why? What does it even mean? I can already imagine what some people may think — “Things are a lot harder now you know, it wouldn’t make sense for that to still apply.”
The truth is, this quote is more important than ever in our world of information overload. A big problem in society today is that people have a tendency to overthink every single little step of a plan they have to do every little thing throughout their day. Eventually, their daily schedules go from something like “Wake up, go to work, come home, relax, read, eat, and sleep” to something more along the lines of “Wake up at this precise time so that you can eat the right food for your body. Then you need to plan your day out in 15 minute increments. After that you’re going to drive to work, taking this exact course, doing these exact movements, and start working at this precise time…” I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of that day looks. However, there have been times in the past where I’ve actually advised a strict schedule. Recently, I’ve actually written about habits, how to make them, and how to break them. That’s no simple task, because it requires you to rigorously plan out your courses of action. So why would I contradict myself?
The truth is, rigorous planning is amazing. It’s also impressive that we have the capability of doing it — you don’t see any animals writing in a book about what they’re going to do that day. However, the thing that brings rigorous planning from ideal to catastrophic is the fact that people also have the capability to make mistakes. Maybe your plan for the day really is so strict that you already know what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be every 15 minutes. That’s great until you run into traffic on the way to work. One tiny little accident could put you slightly off schedule, and being slightly off schedule can ruin your whole day if you let it.
The number one way to combat life from throwing you off schedule is to create a schedule that’s simple enough that you can switch it around. This way, one little mistake won’t ruin your whole day. It might inconvenience you, yes, but you’ll be able to adapt to your new circumstances, come up with a solution to get you back on track, and move on with your day.
Once people understand that loose and adaptive scheduling allows for screw ups and mistakes, they’ll be able to start making moves towards progress. It’s easier to make a hill when you don’t have to meticulously place each shovel full of dirt in a certain spot. When it comes to progress, it can even be better to make the wrong decision than no decision at all — because at least then you’re getting more experience than the person frozen in one spot because of fear. Taking a step that’s a little to the left of where you’re trying to go is better than taking no steps at all, because things will correct themselves along the way. I think you get the idea now; trial and error is better than nothing. So start taking steps and trying.
What are your thoughts on the subject? How do you plan for your day? Is there anything you do that provides structure to your life as a result of you doing it every day? I’d love to hear what you have to say — your words matter too! Feel free to share this article on social media; someone you know might use the information on it. Stay tuned for future blog posts every Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and try to be the reason someone smiles today 🙂