June 26, 2019
Fear of missed opportunity
In a world of abundance, curiosity is both a blessing and a curse. It opens doors and exposes the entrance to many more. The question of which door to pass through can become debilitating. Curiosity yields opportunities, opportunities breed choices, choices are draining.
I was curious what career paths exist for me that I wasn’t seeing. I left my job last year to find out. While hiking in Peru, I convinced myself that I should create a career around teaching applied questioning. A few months later, I was on to a new topic, the circular economy. Before long I was into biomimicry, which lead to mycology. Then I found no-code app developing and a flashy new design tool to play with.
By hoarding ideas and acting on impulse, we end up on tangents. In geometry, tangents only touch the surface. Living tangentially means never going deep.
The line between opportunity and fantasy is fuzzy. We count ideas as opportunities if we can imagine an outcome in our head. This isn’t a problem until we stop pursuing real opportunities because we imagine more interesting ones to exist.
Closing your mind to possibilities isn’t the answer. Pruning opportunities and pausing before acting might be.
I've learned to better validate opportunities by asking a few questions:
- Will I enjoy doing this 1 year from now? 5 years from now?
- Will this allow me to learn about something I’m curious about?
- Am I observing a real opportunity or acting like a man with a hammer?
There is opportunistic equilibrium. A point where what we can do in the future inspires us rather than keeping us from acting now.
A healthy pool of opportunity is in equilibrium when the number of perceived incoming opportunities equals the number you are willing to let go.
I see opportunities everywhere. I notice problems and fantasize what it would be like to solve them. I’ve kept a running list for the past year. I sit on them, like a bird on eggs, guarding them as valuables.
But they aren’t. They may represent an ounce of opportunity, but they won’t help me go deep in a personally meaningful way.
So, I’m giving them away. Shedding fantasies to leave room as I search for deeper opportunities.