"Wisdom consists not so much in knowing what to do in the ultimate as knowing what to do next." ~ Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president
Today I met with an old friend from college that I haven't seen in 11 years. She and I worked on a theatre production together at Penn, and she has a new theatre project that she wanted to get my advice on. At one point in our conversation she said she just felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of getting the project off the ground. As much as she believes in the idea, the shear amount of work that it takes will be intense, regardless of whether it is a runaway hit, a flop, or somewhere in-between. She is afraid of the outcome of her efforts before she's even begun.
Like all of us with ideas that get our blood pumping, we get ahead of ourselves. We haven't even put a proposal on paper, and already we are off and running making contingency plans for every challenge and triumph imaginable. Long-term planning is important; to paralyze ourselves with fear in the short-run makes all of our worrying inconsequential. If we can't even get started, our long-term contingency plans don't make a bit of difference.
A crystal ball would be a handy tool to have in our back pocket, particularly if we could play out different scenarios before making choices. Unfortunately, no one has invented one of those yet, and so we're left with only our gut, experience, and conscience to help us make decisions. While we might do our best chess playing game, anticipating how the world around us will change, it never goes exactly according to plan. There's always some surprise we didn't account for. And if you're doing A just to get to B, then my experience has demonstrated that surely C, D, and E will show up to throw a wrench in the works.
The best we can do is to just do what's next. Keep a lofty goal as your guide, and remember that there are many routes to it. Don't shut down your ability to move forward by standing at the fork in the road and burying your head in your hands. Self-imposed grief, and the indecision that comes along with it, doesn't serve anyone well. And your dreams are too important. You have too much to offer this world. There is no time for indecision. The only choice you need to make right now is the next one. Leave the future where it belongs, out ahead of you.
The image above can be found at: http://toughsledding.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/fork.jpg