Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Order of Operations

I hesitate to write this, because it's going to sound like one of those gahdawful self-help books, an also becuae I'm actually thinking of writing aforementioned self-help book, purely for the money of course (and why give it a way free if I can sell it?). But I decided to let you Be My Guinea Pigs. (Now why don't they ever put that on a candy heart, i ask you.)

Here's the basic premise:

There are two ways to structure your life and make decisions.
1. Figure out what's feasible and choose from the available options, or
2. Figure out what you want and find a way to make it feasible.

Number 1 is perfectly practical and many people do it and it will bring a modicom of success with relative safety and ease. But it's inherently limiting. That method of reasoning will always, in the end, be a cage. It might be a very big cage, and you (as many people are) might be very happy living in your corner of it. But there's a lot more out there beyond the bars.

The second thought process is more risky, but the rewards are far greater. It's harder. It involves exploring and discovering your actual desires, instead of selecting from a few options before you. It's like the difference between going to a restaurant and deciding what to eat based on the menu selections, and taking a few minutes to stop and thinking 'what kind of food do i want to eat,' and then figuring out where to get it or how to cook it.

I have always lived my life by the latter method, but i've only recently become aware that this is what i was doing, and it's different from what i observe a lot of my friends doing. What do you think of all this? Would you find this sort of advice interesting/useful? Do you think other people would? Yes, it would make me a whore to the system. But I'm doing it because I've identified needs (money) and I'm trying to figure out ways of achieving them. Thoughts?


GreatSheElephant said...

hayl yes. But one thing to bear in mind is that some people, me for example, have severe difficulty figuring out what they want.

llewtrah said...

I "cut my cloth according to my means". When I make choices, the decision process goes like this (this is the clothing choice):

Can I afford it? (if no, skip rest of questions)
Do I need it? (if no, skip rest of questions)
Does it fit?
Does it suit me?
Will I actually wear it?

In other words, it's a case of "form, fit, function and funds." For myself, I see no point hankering after things I can't afford or where I need te money for other things (bills, mortgage). Luckily I don't envy those who have all of those things. I have reached the state of being content with what I have and enjoying the pleasures I can afford.

hendrix said...

As far as structuring my life goes, I tend to make important decisions based solely on my gut instinct and with no thought at all to whether it's feasible, practical or sensible - so I suppose that I'd be an option 2, although I don't consciously figure out a way to make it happen once I've decided on something. It works for me, because what I want out of life changes constantly.

As far as the book goes - I wouldn't buy a self-help book (ok obviously if you wrote one I'd buy it) but that doesn't make writing one a bad idea. There is a huge market out there for them. I think the GSE is right as well though - a big difficulty with most people is figuring out what they want in the first place. If you can incorporate strategies for isolating that, then you'll be onto a winner.

Spinsterella said...

No. 2 mainly.

I chose a highly un-vocational uni course, then spent most of my twenties travelling.

I did spend a couple of years following a No. 1 path and I was miserable but secure.

I turned thirty, went a bit mad, and turned back to a no. 2 type path. It's terrifying but I'm deleriously happy.

I generally apply Llewtrah's first 2 rules to everything I buy as well.

Paul said...

If you go with #2 there still is interplay with #1. Reality contact sometimes modifies aspirations as well as expectations.

Timorous Beastie said...

At the risk of sounding like a boring old fart, I think option 2 sets people up to fail. It reminds me of the Seven Secrets of Successful Twats kind of books, where people boast about how rich they are and claim that we too can be rich if we just follow the simple steps they describe (step 1: "Make me even richer by buying my book", step 2: some vacuous soundbite like "Make it happen!"). There's a lot to be said for knowing when to sit back and enjoy what you have instead of constantly wanting more/bigger/better. I think the desire for constant "improvment" is the source of a lot of unhappiness.

GreatSheElephant said...

TB - I think it's a bit of a chicken and egg situation - after all you wouldn't be buying the books in the first place if you weren't unhappy with your lot. I go through phases of buying self help stuff and on the whole find it totally useless, primarily because they all require some form of action whereas I just want someone to wave a wand and make it all better.

Mr Farty said...

Definitely option no. 2 - I bought a self-help book once and it really did help. Yes, of course it required action, opportunities rarely present themselves on a plate. How did I benefit? Better job, better hours, more time with my family, better pay and - most importantly - a bit of respect.

You can certainly write well, so I'd say go for it.

Da Nator said...

I think you can write the book with those two concepts in mind, providing you admit to the reader that you're making what you want - money - feasible by selling them this book!


frobisher said...

You assume that everyone has choices! I think there are enough self-help books - there ususally written my some middle-class, under employed Californians with a fake degrees. Write a novel instead, far more of a challenge

Homer said...

The trouble with option 2 is that you are limited by your imagination. It assumes that you know all there is to know in the world. E.g. your restaurant analogy: if I hadn't been to lots of restaurants to try out their choices, I might assume fish fingers and shepherd's pie were the only foods in the world.

Also despite what women's magazines say, not everyone can (for example) move to Cornwall and open a fudge shop. Our actions are necessarily curtailed by reality, both economic and social.

First Nations said...

truthfully? nah. your two points are spot on. its just that writing a book is a gamble and the return is kinda uncertain.
so that makes me a point one person here.

Homo Escapeons said...

I am always astonished at themountains of crap that actually gets published..who the frick reads those books.
I have a friend from college whose daughter dances with mine who won a huge literary award last year and I am insanely jealous...he is such a down to earth guy you can't help but be happy for him.
You need an angle or gimmick to get through all of the clutter on the shelves..and who isn't an EXPERT on something these days.
Most of my mates fromCollege are workhorse newspaper writers which is a very practical means of making a living and writing but they all seem to want to take the next step and most of them have published a special interest book in their particular area of expertise..which is cool.
So you need to be outrageously funny or simply outrageous but somehow you have to get noticed and you need a good agent or publisher that adores you and believes that mankind cannot possibly exist another second without reading your book.
I say go for it...most people choose the laissez faire route and the path of least resistence..their lives are living them.
What the world really needs is a book on the death of Common Sense.

ZB said...

an also becuae I'm actually thinking of writing aforementioned self-help book, purely for the money of course

Write your PhD. The financial gains of writing a self help book at this point in your life will not balance out the financial hock you'll be in if you don't finish your PhD on time. The time it takes you to do the former, find an agent, get a contract, do the revisions etc will not balance out in the time it takes you to do the latter. Honest.

By pragmatic. PhD first. Doors open after that. Until then, everything else can fuck off.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

phew! where do i begin?

GSE: determining what you want would definately be a part of the process and the book. thanks for the input!

llewtra: same questions here, different order. i start with funds and fit, because those two are the most frequently encountered limiting factors. why does no one in this country make trousers that fit me???

HC: i wouldn't buy a self-help book either. ugh! but it'd write one if i thought i could make a buck. (same reason every other author of a self-help book has written, i suspect.)

Spin: i'll be calling on you to write a testimonial!

Paul: naturally! how do we know what we want until we explore some available options! nothing is EVER black and white. (except michael jackson.)

TB: an interesting rebuttal. i would counter that perceived impossiblity of improvement is the source of great unhappiness. but don't make me start defending my ideas -- i might end up believing them! Impossible is Nothing! Just Do It!

GSE: so a chicken and an egg are lying in bed together, smoking. says the chicken glumly, "well, i guess we answered THAT question."

Farty: Thanks! i may also call upon you to write a testimonial of how my brilliant ideas changed your life. never mind the chronology; that's just details.

da nator!: i'm a whore to the system. i freel admit it.

Frobi: of course a novel is more of a challenge! duh. any twat can sit a keyboard and spout pseudo-inspirational tripe as a self-titled expert. that's why i'm considering it: it's easy and it won't take long. see previous comment.

Homer: an excellent point. i think that would fall into the "how to figure out what you want" category, which would necessarily include some degree of research into available options. it sounds self-contradictory, but it's not i swear!

FN: how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? sorry, i have nothing else to add.

Homo: yeah, mee too. That's why i don't feel too guily about this idea. there's already so much shite out there i don't think i'll be doing much damage by throwing one more twig on the inferno. at least my drivel will be gramatically correct and well-punctuated.

ZB: said the man who wrote 2 novels while working on his PhD. But you're right,and i know that. this isn't something that will happen until i've finished the phd. it's just an idea. not something i'm going to do next week.

ZB said...

3. Four on the Floor, HBM and Wonderland.

But I'm a dick.