One of the most valuable things I ever learned was this: The smallest details can fundamentally change what something is.
The best example is with food. Adding curry to your stew immediately makes the diner think about Indian spices, even if all the other ingredients suggest it’s beef bourguignon. The same goes for designing a webpage or arranging furniture in your room.
Each decision matters.
But most of our decisions are made without articulating what we are trying to accomplish with the decision. They are gut reactions to our environment. However, there is no such thing as a neutral decision; every decision accomplishes something — the question is, what?
To be honest, I used to think success was a lot more about skill and luck, and a lot less about thought and discipline. But I’ve learned that this isn’t how a mission is accomplished. Define the goal, make decisions to reach the goal.
Except, in life, I liked to be surprised by the outcome. I like the poetic improvisation in this way of life, and sometimes I wonder if a more rigid articulation of goals prevents the serendipity that occur otherwise. In fact, as much as I’d love to define a goal and go all-out on that goal, I still feel an insatiable urge to explore the world around me, which could also be described as “being distracted.” But I secretly hope that one that that mission will be clearly defined, and that this is a phase. And I secretly hope that all the exploration will yield interesting artifacts after I get back on the path. But what if I never make it back to the path? What if the mission is never defined? What if this is just a lazy excuse to loaf around? Frankly, it very well might be.