We’ve established the reasoning and basic premise of ‘plan carving as water’, but how does it work? I think one of the best resources on this thinking is cartoonist Scott Adams (Dilbert – http://blog.dilbert.com/) who raves about the benefits of thinking in systems rather than goals(http://blog.dilbert.com/post/102964992706/goals-vs-systems), but I still have a tendency to think of goals. I like them, but appreciate their complete meaningless-ness.
For example, I have a near OCD-level habit of checking and updating my personal budget. I don’t strictly stick to it, but I’m constantly updating it and leveraging it to find ways to move finances, shift goals, better plan for myself, and think of things in different ways. Having this really benefits me since I’ve started as I’ve become more aware of my ridiculous spending habits and understand where my savings are actually used the most effectively; I’ve managed to crawl out of a debt that metaphorically crippled me into a literal depression, afforded a new (relatively) expensive apartment at a good price, started a savings plan, started a second master’s program and am paying it all with cash, bought a car and figured out the most effective way to pay for it and what I needed from it in return, and many, many, many more examples. A budget wasn’t necessary for me to do any of things, but I was comforted with its insights.
Yet I agree with Scott and recommend his book. Despite it’s simplicity it’s a fun read and you may learn something from it–if you don’t then you at least have an extra book to fill your shelf, one you’ve read and not let gather dust. The system works, the goals rarely ever do. The problem with goals is that they are simply targets, or ideal pictures of a landscape you hope to find; when the supports move and the targets change, the landscape is unreachable and your goal is unwinnable.
In terms of water: you’re in a stream flowing to the ocean with the goal being the image you have of ocean itself. When there’s a shift in the landscape, say a riverbed or an unexpected dam, that image of the ocean must change to remain realistic. The reason it must change is that the landscape itself has changed. A dam would give the entry way a much lower point of entry or a riverbed would case the entryway to be much faster in speed. It’s a slight shift in the picture but it’s still a shift. Planning is difficult and time only makes it more so. The longer the time between plan and fruition the harder it is to predict the result.
Plans must move like water and adjust and tweak itself to perfection. Broadly speaking: time is the flow of water and you only get to where you’re going by following where it moves. Unless it pushes you further away, in which case you need to put your foot down and go against the tide. Part 3 coming soon.