Strategy can sometimes be a real chore. Sure, you want fulfillment, in your career and in your life, but where is it written that the fare to get to your destination must be paid in that mundane, diligent currency? All that thinking and planning; all that time spent identifying assets, challenges, risks, and objectives; all that work setting a clearly defined goal and then laboriously mapping out a set of achievable milestones that lead to that goal. What a drag!
If method is driving you to madness, take heart! There are other ways to try to realize your dreams! The next time that forethought, judgment, and perseverance seem, frankly, a bit overhyped, try one of these alternative methods of blazing your own personal trail through life:
The Random Walk: This is the method that most of us start off with, and it’s still one of the most popular! Stop trying to make things happen and just let them happen. Take whatever work comes your way – until at some point you arbitrarily decide that it’s time to try something else! You’ll soak up experiences like a ravenously curious toddler, albeit one who must feed, clothe, and house himself. The Random Walk works particularly well if you have no life or career goals – if they don’t exist, who’s to say you’re not getting closer to them every day?! But be careful – people sometimes ruin a perfectly good Random Walk by inadvertently forming goals based on their Random experiences – and, once you’ve got your own goals, you may find yourself with a compulsion to use Strategy instead.
Peer Pressure: One way to avoid that particular trap is to prevent yourself altogether from forming your own goals. Peer Pressure is a great way to do that. When you let yourself take a job, or go to a graduate school, or move to a certain city, just because the people you know are doing the same thing – or tell you that they think such courses of action would be perfect for you – then you eliminate much of the stress and danger of Strategizing, because all you need to do is what other people tell you. “Peer Pressure” is, in fact, a misnomer, because the pressure to do what someone else wants you to do can come from so many more sources than just your peers. Parents can be great sources of pressure and conformity! Or, if you don’t personally know someone willing to tell you what to do, you can seek professional help. There are volumes upon volumes of books in libraries and bookstores promising perfect career paths, written by people far more self-assured than you. Just latch on to one that shares some of your irrelevant secondary qualities (“Hey! This Wall Street stockbroker says he likes apples and has a turtle named Neo – just like me!”) and you’ll be able to put pressure on yourself to adopt his goals as your own.
The Law of Attraction: This mysterious ancient wisdom has seen a resurgence of interest in the past decade, as jaded Americans weary of Strategy, Effort, and Disappointment have turned to the more comforting tactic known in other cultures as “wishful thinking”. To grasp the subtle complexity of The Law of Attraction, start with the perfectly valid observation that an earnest belief in one’s ability to achieve a specific goal is necessary to actually achieving it. Now, take out the word “necessary” and replace it with the word “sufficient”! That’s the magic of The Law Of Attraction! Now, belief is all you need to achieve. Just send your good thoughts out there into the universe, which, like a karmic wifi, will receive your signals and send them back to you tenfold, like pop-up ads of destiny!
P&P (Procrastination and Panic): Finally, one of my personal favorites, which I relied on all through college. This one’s a natural when you believe you have goals, but you are not really invested in them. Without the burden of that slavish devotion to a real ambition, it’s easy to shrug off the ungainly demands that Strategy would otherwise make on your time. Freed of the need for attention and concern, you will be able to enjoy frequent extended periods of blissful ignorance, or at least ignorant bliss, punctuated only occasionally by impending deadlines and madly efficient bursts of activity. The great thing about P&P is that it works equally well in your work life (with its frequent meetings with superiors, project deadlines, etc.) and in your personal life (with its monthly bills, yearly tax filings, birthdays and anniversaries, etc.). If you want to avoid the rigors and the constant progress and fulfillment associated with using Strategy to manage your life, P&P may appeal to you. In fact, you may already be using it!
These are just a few of the most common alternatives to the weighty requirements of sensible thought and planning — but humans are only limited by their imagination! You may have come up with your own method — feel free to share! We all might learn something.