The Problem with How
Let’s say you want something. It’s happened to you hasn’t it? A new soccer ball, a sunny day or the Best Cookie in the World. What are you supposed to do next? Sit down with a piece of paper, a pencil and a plan. A plan is just another way of saying that you’re supposed to figure out how to get what you want. Sounds pretty reasonable except there’s just a couple of problems with that approach.
Take the Best Cookie in the World, if you start thinking about how you’re going to get it, you run into problems immediately. Maybe you go ask your dear friend Google. Worst Idea in the World. A million search entries pop up shouting MeMeMEMeMemememememeMEEEEEEE! Everyone thinks they know the recipe for the Best Cookie in the World. How are you supposed to make any sense of this mess? You could try them all one after the other, but new ones will continue to pop up while you are busy in the kitchen.
This is not the only difficulty when it comes to asking “How?” You could also want something that no one else thinks is possible OR that no one knows how to get. Now take that sunny day you’ve been hoping for. If you were to ask Google about that (how do you get a sunny day whenever you want?), you would get a bunch of nonsense, a lot of gobbledygook and some folderol too. That’s one of the other problems with asking “How?” It makes it really easy to get jammed up in other people’s ideas of what is and isn’t possible and to then just give up on the whole dream.
Let’s say you make it past those two hurdles and do come up with a crispy new plan. You’re not done yet! It’s not a home run, dunk or ball in the back of the net. You still have to put this plan into action. Oh yeah! Forgot about that part didn’t you? Or did you think plans were these magical creatures that do all the work for you? If you did, you wouldn’t be the only one. Many a person has been disappointed to find out the end of planning is just the beginning of doing. And let’s face it, most plans are not exactly what you would call a joyride, walk in the park or party. Suppose your to-do list said:
– Eat a popsicle.
– Chill by the pool.
– Do my hair up real nice.
– Pet the cat.
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have too much trouble getting a handle on this particular set of chores. But that’s not what your to-do list says when you’re trying to figure out how to make the money to get the soccer ball of your dreams. No. Your to-do list involves all kinds of money-making tasks that you can’t wait to be done with so you can finally kick your ball around. Why does it have to be so hard?!
And and and… there’s this little niggling doubt in the back of your mind. What if after all that work, somehow, you still don’t get what you want. What if someone refuses to pay you? Or you lose your money on the way to the store? Or… I’m sure you can come up with more interesting and creative disasters. And the thing is that trying to close the gap to what you want with more plans and schemes has this funny way of just making the gap larger in your mind.
So what is a person to do? Just give up? No. Just start asking better questions. Questions like “Why?” I’ve already got you asking “Why?”, don’t I? Good. The answer to that particular one will be coming soon.