Monday, March 19, 2012

Bucket Lists, Policy, and Functions - Part 3 (of 3)

Functions vs Lists

When I first started thinking about goal-setting, intentional living, and creating a life based on values, I made long lists of everything I wanted to do and accomplish. Some of the items on my list were descriptions of big projects with many sets of sub-lists. Others were simple straight-forward tasks. For my first 10-year plan, I worked on a values statement, and then tried to model out what I wanted my life to look like and how I planned to get there. This required a lot of work trying to visualize, as specifically as I could, what I wanted from the outcomes.

To-do lists are fine for daily time management. They can guide us through the steps of a project; they help us to remember what needs to be done; they provide a framework for prioritizing one’s day; they provide positive reinforcement every time we complete a task and cross something off of our list. This is all great. On the other hand, trying to create a to-do list that will get you through the next 25 years, is arguably absurd. Unless, like Mozart with his symphonies, you are able see your life unfold moment by moment, in advance, it’s likely to be a Sisyphean task.

For my 25-year plan, I have decided to take a different approach...

Creating a Function

A function, in algebra or computer programming, is a set of pre-determined modifiers (operators) that convert an input into an output. In other words, a value (in this case, patterned or rigid responses to a situation) enters the function, is modified by the modifiers (in this case, perspectives or decisions or goals) and then comes out as a “new and improved” value (in this case, a more flexible response. One that is in keeping in line with how I am choosing to live my life.)

A function is normally defined as f (name of function) followed by a new line for each modifier/operator, usually enclosed in { }.

It goes like this…

f (my life)  {

        {Do not eat sugar before lunchtime};

        {Approach every person thoughtfully with care and compassion};

        {Minimize negative impacts of the environment};

        {Model the attitudes of Hope, Confidence and Enthusiasm};


This is my attempt to set direction to my life without creating a list for each interaction. To try to naturally direct energy and outflow without having to note each step along the way. To try to get my mind around what I want my life to look like and to create a closer connection between my core intention and my operating reality.

For example, I did not create a list that say’s: eat brocoli, say “good morning”, recycle, smile. Instead, I am telling myself to process information about my life and the world around me each moment in a way unique to that moment, and, as I encounter a situation, any situation, respond to it in accordance with these “core commitments”

Lists are rigid. Functions are flexible. I have no way of knowing what is going to happen later on today, let alone in 25 years. Having a function in place helps me to provide shape to my life without having to try to predict the destination of the universe.

From the Zone...


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