Focus on what we can do each day

Happy New Year!

I started out my morning putting a beef roast in the slow cooker with onions, carrots and celery. I’ll add potatoes when it’s closer to being done, so dinner’s cooking. And I’ve been thinking a lot about trite sayings that circulate online as if they’re the wisdom of the ages. Yesterday some video popped up in my YouTube feed about “focus on systems, not goals” and after I watched that one, several more videos spouting that same theme popped up. Then there have been the videos a few days ago about “hope is not a strategy” and I’ve seen several of those videos flitting by on my YouTube feed. It’s almost like how if you ever watch one “TED Talks” video on a subject, for the next few days, your YT feed will be filled with videos on that subject.

Whether people are aware of this, or not, this is how algorithms are designed to gauge your viewing habits and feed you more of the content that held your attention. It’s social media platforms designing rabbit holes for you to go down. The more alarmist content you consume, social media algorithms (and perhaps even the Feds) will find ways to pull you further down those rabbit holes. It’s also easy to assume that because you are seeing this particular viewpoint a lot, that it’s the mainstream view, when in reality it’s a view that was packaged to hold your attention.

For me, I kind of think this Bible verse sums up life, in general, and figuring what time you’re in can help you weather life’s storms.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 from the King James version:

” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” https://www.bible.com/bible/1/ECC.3.1-8.KJV

That kind of covered it for me, but in the secular world here’s how I look at “strategy” and “hope” and “goals vs. systems.” First, “hope” is crucial, because without hope we wouldn’t get off our butts and be motivated to have goals or come up with a plan (strategy), so hope is a critical factor in survival and even with getting things done, in my opinion. You can parcel that out into words like attitude or grit or determination, but a belief that you are going to work hard to survive and work to overcome adversity is critical.

The ideas I heard recently about focusing on systems not goals left me shaking my head too, because I believe in comprehensive strategic planning. Simply put, that means you have to set goals (ends) – period. Then we get to the “systems” and that’s the nitty-gritty for achieving goals – the ways and means of how you’re going to set about achieving your goals. All three components are vital for success, I think and all these trite word games that people come up with, as if they’re reinventing the wheel, just complicate matters. A comprehensive plan would include a tiered level of goals, ways and means to achieve those goals and some timelines for the various moving parts. Into all this comes dealing with adversity and failure, which are going to happen, even with the best laid plans. Here again that attitude factor comes into play as being critical. Some people quit after one try, while others will keep trying, reassess their “ways and means” and try again and again, until they succeed.

Setting up “systems” and getting some systems functioning in basic survival usually revolves around food, water, shelter, staying warm/cool, sanitation needs, and those sort of things. To live more comfortably, most of us rely on all sorts of systems in our home that we don’t think much about, like having a heating/cooling system installed in our home or building a home with a solid foundation, insulation and a reliable roof, having electricity and running water. Likewise, most of us rely on all sorts of complex global systems for the goods we routinely consume or use in our lives.

Rather than get caught up in the “sayings” floating around the internet or the partisan political flame-throwing and endless rabbit holes, I’m working toward assessing my own life and home and trying to figure out ways to simplify things. Since I’ve always liked repurposing and finding ways to reuse things, that’s going to be more of a focus this year than buying so much more stuff. In my kitchen, I want to start using the gadgets I already have more, rather than buying new ones. For instance, using my slow cookers more (I have three different size slow cookers – yes, ridiculous, I know). I want to find more ways to use my Instant Pot and dehydrator. The list goes on, because I have a lot of kitchen gadgets and small appliances.

Beyond all the goals vs. systems or hope vs. strategy stuff, mostly I want to work on functioning better alone, because March will be two years since my husband passed away and some days are still very hard. When I saw these YouTube topics about “focus on systems, not goals” and “hope is not a strategy,” I thought about my husband and what he would make of these ideas. I feel confident in saying he would have said something along the lines of “F” that bs. and let’s just get some s-h-i-t done around here. He had no patience for theoretical debates and he very much set goals – big and small ones and then he worked his butt off to make them happen. He had no interest in social media – ever, even before he became ill, but then again he never had any patience for a lot of small talk. He wanted to get things done. His can-do attitude reined in a lot of my daydreaming type big ideas and theorizing and wasting time on stuff that isn’t going to get a single constructive thing done today or in my life.

I’ve wasted a lot of time following politics, the news, the online “conversations” and frankly, I think my husband was right – focus on what we can do each day.

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Filed under Food for Thought, General Interest

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