The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Goals and means: controlling time

The ability to decide on a goal depends on the ability to be clear about that goal. Gaining that clarity is hard work. It doesn’t happen by simply deciding for example that tomorrow we’ll wake up and say “I can do whatever I want today”.

In his post “The Highest Forms of Wealth” Morgan Housel describes how Franklin Roosevelt complained as a five-year-old that his life was dictated by rules. He felt the desire to do whatever he wanted. However, once his mother had given him a day free of structure, Franklin Roosevelt quietly slipped back into his routine.

People want structure and happily take the one that is available to them if they can’t see how to set the structure themselves.

The way we define this structure is by knowing what our goal is. And five-year-old Franklin Roosevelt hadn’t planned for one on his free day.

Structuring the day leads to controlling one’s time.

But to define a structure, a goal is needed. One that can be visualized and that serves a purpose.

There is no necessity to be independent to structure a day on one’s account. And doing “whatever I want” is also a question of perception. It’s based on how much of the task we do feels linked to an obligation.

Once Franklin Roosevelt had experienced how the structure had helped him organize his day and create the benefits he was looking out for at his age he could shift his perception and decide to take up the routine by himself.

His time wasn’t controlled anymore. He was controlling it.

But controlling it wasn’t the goal. It was a means to enjoy his day.

He had learned that “I can do whatever I want today” wasn’t as clear a goal as he had hoped.


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