The Arc

Let me describe a particular kind of mental trap to you.

You imagine a long arc of events that leads to a specific goal. Then, you miss or fail at an early part of that arc, and so you forever believe you missed your chance at the end goal. You write it off because of the early misstep, never realizing that there may have been a million other ways to reach that goal besides the main arc.

For instance, you might dream of one day becoming a famous director. You imagine the whole journey – start with film school, then onto some prestigious apprenticeships with brilliant filmmakers. You gain credit and reputation in the industry by working on a few projects that win film festival awards and you network with the larger studios. Soon you’re leading your own small projects that are released to critical acclaim. The studios court you for larger projects and before you know it you’re the next Speilberg.

And then… your application to film school gets rejected, so you get a job at the video store in the mall and that’s that.

But if you actually go and look at every person who became a famous filmmaker, many of them didn’t follow that arc at all. And if you were to look at all the people who failed to become famous filmmakers, many of them did follow that arc. Particular paths may have stronger or weaker correlations with successfully getting to the end, but nothing is perfect, nothing is guaranteed. Plan, but plan loosely – and adapt if you have to.

Your dreams are more resilient than you think.

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