Can’t Go Wrong

When presented with evidence that they’ve been doing the wrong thing, a shocking number of people keep doing the wrong thing, but harder. As if the problem weren’t direction, but intensity!

One of the biggest reasons for this is that they can’t bring themselves to believe that the wrong thing was the wrong thing, because they have some sort of preconceived, often societally-imposed bias towards it being the right thing.

I knew someone who got an undergraduate degree in a subject that neither tremendously interested her, nor was tremendously marketable. Surprise surprise, she did not find a fulfilling, lucrative job with it. So what did she do? Went back for her Master’s in that subject. When that also didn’t work, she was in the process of applying to grad school before she saw the light!

The wrong thing, but harder.

Here’s why this happens – there is no “wrong thing.” There’s just the right thing to get you goals that you don’t actually have. Getting an undergraduate or higher degree in that subject wasn’t “wrong” in some universal sense. But it didn’t lead her to the goal she actually had, which was a fulfilling and lucrative job doing something she actually liked.

This is what happens when we take “the right things” off the generic shelf of society. Those are tools for specific tasks, not miracle elixirs that will improve every single life they touch.

You can never really fail, you can just move in a direction you don’t really want to go. Whenever you think you’ve hit a failure, something that makes you upset or dissatisfied, reframe it and ask yourself: “This accomplished something. What was it? Is that something I want more of?” Maybe it is – maybe the “failure” is just that you didn’t get enough of what you wanted, which then is a problem of intensity. But if the result of your actions was to get you something you didn’t want at all, then doing more of that thing isn’t the answer.

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