“What can I do?” vs. “What must be done?”

An endurance athlete’s most prized skill is the ability to commit

I no longer value maximising my optionality

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What can I do? For me, and I imagine for most, it is a question that often invokes notion of grandeur, ambition, and joyfulness. Whatever the objective may be – starting a new endeavour or wanting to be a better friend / colleague / relative – I always look forward to thinking about the ways I can be of value to myself, and those around me. Thinking and brainstorming about it gives me a pseudo-dopamine hit that I can ride for a good long while.

What must be done? When push comes to shove, I am forced to think in this way. When I have no time to waste, and scarce resources to spare, priorities becomes a necessity and I do my best to channel my inner automaton. This is decidedly and unequivocally less fun to labour on, but I cannot deny the fruits of approaching endeavours in this morning. It is far more effective yet loathsome to think in this way.

My default is to think with the former, while I know that I need to normalise the latter. It is remarkable to think that a large chunk of the variance whether an endeavour reaches a successful outcome or not hinges on phrasing and wordplay. Yet, the more and more that I reflect back on things, the more I am convinced that I owe a lot of the success I had (in whatever way that is defined) to forcing myself to think of what must be done. ****Thinking in terms of what I can do doesn’t necessarily lead to bad outcomes, but it certainly has led to a significantly lower rate of success.

What then can we take away from this? What can I do is great for stirring up the imagination, to get the creative juices flowing. Once ideas are mixing in the big brain of ours, we need to convert it into action and that’s where thinking of what must be done becomes useful.

P.S. Even as I write this now, it seems so blindingly obvious … and yet sometimes it is so difficult to diagnose.

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