The Battle for the Middle

Your life is all about changes. Sometimes you’re trying to make them. Sometimes you’re trying to prevent them. Sometimes you’re trying to direct them. But life, by its very nature, is centered in one way or another around our interaction with changes.

In the short term, we tend to do a lot of trying to prevent changes. Most people on average don’t want super-dynamic changes every single day of their lives. They want their regular days to be pretty predictable. So they try to prevent changes – injuries, fires, being let go from their job, etc.

In the long-term, however, we’re generally the driver of change. Emergencies and unexpected changes are by nature immediate – very few unexpected changes happen on a 10-year timeline. So most of the things that will be different about your life in ten years are the result of actions you choose to take.

So the conflict between your short-term actions and your long-term actions can really be thought of as a conflict between your reactionary behavior and your proactive behavior.

You can’t ever eliminate all reactionary behavior because sometimes things catch on fire. Sometimes a car hits yours. Sometimes you lose your job or a family member gets sick or any number of chaotic things life throws at you.

But the goal, the real goal, is to change the middle term. To take the line that exists between areas where you’re forced to be reactive and areas where you’re free to be proactive and and to push it ever closer to into King Reactive’s kingdom, taking more and more territory away and giving it to Queen Proactive.

Cherish the small wins here. It’s easy to face a situation where you’re forced to be reactive, something you couldn’t have planned for, and then throw up your hands in frustration at the fact that the world is inherently chaotic and all your plans are for naught. But don’t let that happen. Remember that you can’t ever eliminate chaos, but that’s not the goal. The goal is incremental steps towards proactive behavior.

That often means more work. It means that you have to plan and save and build shields and contingencies while you’re still putting out fires and dodging bullets. But every iota of order you pluck from the future solves a problem tomorrow before it happens. At first, it’s war. But you can win it.

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