Current vs. ideal state

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 20, 2019, 10:30 PM | comments: 0

Almost a year ago, I wrote that scaling is always the problem. I had recently started a job where I had to scale, along with the business, and the team and process that I had in my charge. That continues to be part of the challenge, but I've also come to realize that problem solving is better approached by figuring out the ideal state and working backward from there. Concentrating too much on current state makes it harder to even see the ideal state.

Let's say you have to build a wooden box. You have some of the wood to frame it, but not enough to cover the sides, and you have some screws and a screwdriver, but no drill. Looking at it from a current state point of view, you have a number of constraints that make it difficult for you to finish the box. That's demotivating, for sure, but it also makes it harder to see what the box could be. You aren't thinking about hinges for a lid, or a knob, or even paint. There are elements you don't have on hand, so the ideal is further away. But if you could step away, and think, "What do I really want a box to be?" it leads you somewhere better. In this case it probably leads you to go to the hardware store and get what you need.

I think I instinctively knew this, but don't always apply it where I should. When I knew I wanted to live in a better climate, and get to a certain place professionally, I looked at the ideal and figured out what the interim steps should be. The plan changes and bends as you discover new information, but forward momentum comes easy when you know what that ideal looks like. (For the record, the locale was easy, and the career goals have evolved, but I'm headed in the right direction.)

I've defined the ideal and worked backward from it on all kinds of important things. I did it in terms of my relationship goals, professional goals, financial goals, really all the big life things, and those are all works in progress. There are day to day things that it works for as well.

So yeah, don't let current state get in the way of where something could be.


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