Tomorrow’s Goals

I’m not sure what I’ll want to do tomorrow.

In a very literal sense, I have a pretty good idea of what I will do tomorrow. But you never know what new goal you’ll come up with. What new idea will strike you as worth pursuing. I probably won’t become a dentist tomorrow, but I’m at least open to the remote possibility that by the end of tomorrow I’ll want to become a dentist.

That thought doesn’t worry me. It doesn’t worry me that I might not have a handle on what I want to be when I grow up. It used to, but it doesn’t any more.

I used to have an odd quirk in my teenage years. Even then I wrote a lot, but it was marble notebooks instead of blogging. But when I would first get a new notebook (and boy did I go through them), I had this little ritual I had to do. I’d open the notebook, and I’d write or draw or tape something on every single page. It didn’t matter what. Newspaper clippings I thought were interesting. Comic pages I thought were cool. Bits of poetry or short stories or quotes or jokes. Stupid sketches. But I had to put something on every page, right away. Not in the corner or off to the side, either – usually somewhere near the center of the page. Then the terrible buzzing in my brain would get quiet, and I could use the notebook as normal, filling in the empty space around each page’s initial entry with whatever I decided to write as I went.

Why did I do this? Because I absolutely hated the idea of things being not finished. I loved the look and feel of a new, empty notebook – so full of possibility and opportunity! I also loved the look and feel of a full notebook – pages warped and worn, something on each page jumping out at you as you flipped through, forming the outline of an impression of the person who filled it. But I couldn’t stand the look and feel of a notebook that was some part of each. Some pages filled, others blank; it used to make me shudder. It represented to me this possibility of abandonment; this idea that I might have started something that I wouldn’t finish because of my flaws or failings.

Some part of me is still like that, but it’s quieter now. Blogging helps; unlike a notebook, this blog doesn’t have neat marbled covers marking arbitrary amounts of knowledge that added together equal “done.” Devil take “done.”

This is the endless marble notebook.

I’m making my life like that, too. I’m not done anything. I’m doing things I love doing, that I’m good at, and that in turn bring me further towards more of the same. I’m able to make money and spend that money on other things I care about, like taking care of a family I love. Every day my life changes a little, but I’ve taken a lot of steps to ensure I have a lot of control over most of those changes, so they mostly happen in the direction I want.

All of these things I do – my work, my writing, taking care of my health, my learning goals – they’re all goals in service to being ready. I don’t think I’ll want to become a dentist tomorrow. But I know that if I did, I would be able to. I’d be able to figure out how to proceed and do so. I’m good at planning, and good at executing on plans, because I practice. I’m good at setting daily goals, because I practice. I’m good at not marrying myself to one spot in life, because I practice.

No matter what I want to do tomorrow, I can. Today’s work serves tomorrow’s goals.

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