so long as we get somewhere (even nowhere)
“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.”
“You are not going nowhere just because you haven’t gotten where you want to go yet.”
So. Direction is one of the most stressful discussion in Life & in business. Where are you going? How are you planning on getting there? And, of course, are you sure that is the right direction?
I never thought I would ever use a Taylor Swift quote let alone use it to make a point. Her quote made me think that “not getting to where you want to be” and “nowhere” can look awfully similar.
But it is not.
Not even close.
The idea of “getting somewhere”, whether in your career, in Life, in personal change, in a relationship, in anything, sometimes seems to dominate our Life. This destination, this ‘thing’ we have envisioned in our mind, becomes sort of a measurement with regard to how we are effectively, or ineffectively, living our life. And in doing so if we are somewhere other than ‘there’ <which may mean we simply just haven’t got there yet>, a lot of people will suggest that means you are nowhere.
That is wrong. Very very <very> wrong.
We spends gobs of time and money trying to answer these questions. If you think about it while it may not sound completely absurd (defining direction insures you are at least not going somewhere completely useless) it can actually look like an incredibly poor investment with a dubious ROI <or what I often call “ROC”: return on choice>.
It can be a stress on your everyday life.
It can be a burden.
It can create an absurdly long list of plans and things to do.
It can also translate into a lot of wasted time (because often where you decide to go isn’t exactly where you end up simply because Life’s terrain dictated a slightly better destination).
I sometimes think this is a reflection of what is wrong in today’s society – this belief if you haven’t achieved something you have achieved nothing.
Most of Life is a reflection of a shitload of journeys and paths and, well, a lot of walking, running, tripping and crawling. Because of that a shitload of people would suggest that most of your life you have been running in place <which sounds silly as I type it> or ‘wandering aimlessly <which also sounds silly as I type it because most times most people are wanting to get to where they want to be> and basically they are suggesting that, uhm, you have expended energy — and got nowhere.
99% of the time those people are just assholes.
Assholes who focus on destinations and not journeys. They only take satisfaction in highlighting specific milestones, objectives and outcomes achieved. They struggle to see the satisfaction in exploration, wandering and the journeys taken to the outcomes.
Look. I am not going to suggest achieving something, specifically, getting to where you want to be is not an admirable and useful objective. Because it is. Getting to where you want to be is aspirational and it implies you want to be better than what you are today. Being better and becoming better is something all of us should embrace.
But I will suggest that simply because you have not got there yet that you have gone nowhere.
In fact, I could argue that simply deciding where you want to be is somewhere.
Yeah. Sometimes just knowing what you want has value in & of itself.
Yeah. In fact, doing something, even something small, is better than nothing and is something other than nowhere.
Anyway. You know what? it’s all exploration even if you don’t care about where you want to go. Why? You end up somewhere.
Here is the bottom line.
I would guess 90% of us are somewhere other than where we want to be. We may see glimpses of it and we may actually have touched it briefly, but most of us are still in the midst of getting there.
<to complete that equation I envision 5% don’t even try having given up and 5% believe they are there>
90% of us are certainly not ‘nowhere.’ We are simply works in progress trying to get somewhere better than who and what we are today. That means suggesting just because you haven’t got to where you wanted to be is ‘nowhere’ would mean that 90% of us are milling about in some wretched space of nothingness … and that is silly. Most of us are pretty happy and fairly content and typically thinking about being better.
There is a lesson here.
While I imagine Ms. Swift doesn’t philosophize on this thought like Umberto Eco, she has certainly embraced her responsibility & empowerment to communicate the right things to hordes of young people. And for that I applaud her. I do so not only because she is impacting young people’s minds in a good smart way, but because there are a boatload of older people who have been gobsmacked into believing if you haven’t got to where you want to be that you are nowhere <and they do not hesitate to tell a shitload of people that>.
Embracing an ‘outcome is the most important’ Life philosophy is a slippery slope.
I would much rather we embrace a “just because you have not got to where you want to be does not necessarily mean you are nowhere” Life philosophy. You can embrace both but if you begin with the latter you are more likely to not only encourage the right behavior in people you will most likely encourage a more positive view of your own Life.
Okay. All this may sound rudderless. But 99% of the time while this discussion sounds, well, directionless, void of objective & absent of any ‘milestones’, it is none of those things. 99% of the time we have a sense of some destination, we just can’t really articulate it. Now. In a world that has an unhealthy relationship with measurement, achievement & “if it is intangible, can you make it tangible”, that ‘not able to articulate’ is a sonuvabitch to try and embrace.
I sometimes think at end of the end of this type of ‘going somewhere, just not sure where’ journey the people who didn’t try to cram all the plans into the time and simply kept walking knowing they would get somewhere will absolutely find themselves some place better than where they started from and most likely end up somewhere good.
I will say Life can truly be a ‘wonderland’ if you don’t over think it. Sometimes the journey is an exploration and as long as you keep exploring the “somewhere” you get to is richer and, in the case of a business or an individual, maybe a stronger place. Maybe Life, and even business to some extent, is a time to wander.
To explore. To just see what you will see. And see what you will find.
Maybe this is time to remember Calvin & Hobbes: “Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere.”
Maybe Alice in Wonderland, Umberto Eco & Taylor Swift and Calvin & Hobbes have the right idea. Nowhere may be a good destination objective.