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Whatever you do, do it deliberately

There’s a huge difference between “trying” and “holding yourself accountable to a result.”

The former is experimental. It evinces a state of mind that’s open to negotiation, compromise, and reconsideration. The process of trying usually culminates with statements like “I tried.”

The latter is committal. It’s expressive of an attitude that’s willing to walk decisively towards a given destination, while burning the bridges that lead backwards. The person who holds herself accountable to a result has deliberately excluded specific options and eliminated certain luxuries in order to ensure that a certain goal is obtained. The process of holding oneself accountable to results usually culminates with statements like “I did it” or “It changed my life forever” or “I accomplished and learned a heck of a lot more than I could have done otherwise.”

Both attitudes work in some cases and both of them fail in others. Neither one is entirely right nor entirely wrong. “Trying” MIGHT not be a very effective way to plan a wedding, for instance, but it may be an optimal state for making friends or discovering new interests.

The important thing is for each of us to consciously think about which state of mind we’re in as we’re making decisions to start creative projects or explore new opportunities.

Sometimes, we may think, speak, and act as if we’re simply trying when we’d be better off holding ourselves accountable to the results that we actually wish to have. I’ve seen many people, including myself, become miserable because of the negative way things turned out, while simultaneously being completely unable to identify what positive result they would have preferred to see. Expectations were clearly present, but they were never consciously reviewed or expressed until much later.

At other times, we may hold ourselves accountable to certain results when trying things out would be more suitable for what we really need. I’ve observed many, including myself, who suffered from unnecessary stress because they were addressing what should have been casual tasks with military-like discipline. The intention, ability, and time to commit were never really there, but the honest and legitimate desire to casually explore was lost in a hurried attempt to meet expectations, avoid embarrassment, or simply “get the ball rolling.”

Today’s two cents?

Don’t determine your disposition on the go. All of your plans and desires don’t need to be taken super seriously, but they are important enough for you to be deliberate, beforehand, about what you want, what your expectations are, and what attitude and approach best fits your true priorities.

Different dispositions not only lead to different emotional experiences, but they also orient us towards different actions and, consequently, different results. We become more or less likely to hit our target depending on how deliberate we are in determining its level of importance to us.

So, do as you please. But whatever you do, do it deliberately.

At least that’s the way I see it.


T.K. Coleman

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