A to B

It’s tempting to go through life believing that we have control over the way things turn out, that we can repeatedly stack the odds in our favor. Sometimes we can. If you train hard, you’re likely to achieve a strong finish time in a race. If you save your earnings, you can afford small indulgences.

But what about the times when an injury forces you to sit out, or an emergency requires you to spend your hard-earned savings in a way other than you intended?

These are simple examples. Life is rarely so linear. Instead, before we get from A to B, we realize that it’s not really B we want, but C. And only if it will lead to D. Or, we become so intent on achieving Z, that we fail to see the promise of X and Y.

And there are times when we might give something our all and still not get it because there are always unknowns. When our eyes are on the prize, it’s natural to discount the influence of outside variables, or ignore their interference.

The degree to which we want something does not correspond to our likelihood of obtaining it. This is a hard truth to swallow. That’s not to deny that the more you want something, the more likely you are to work for it, thereby bringing you closer to the desired outcome. This certainly plays a part. But it doesn’t offer a guarantee.

Our success formulas are only useful when we make room for two outcomes: the one we’re hoping for, and the alternative. Prepare for the former, but don’t fail to acknowledge the latter.

We shouldn’t be afraid of failing to achieve our aspirations: getting a promotion, driving a particular car, finding the right partner, paying off a debt. We should only fear that which tells us to stop trying.

Wanting something badly is a wonderful thing. It drives us, inspires us, challenges us, and asks us to risk giving of ourselves in a unique and vulnerable way. When we don’t get it, it’s simply an invitation to keep trying. Find new ways; expand your options; ask for help; wait.

Sometimes what we want for ourselves is only a fraction of what we’re intended for. And sometimes C comes before B. Don’t mistake disappointment for failure. We’re often closer to reaching our goals than we realize. They’re just not always packaged in the way we imagined.