Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Visioning, Planning, and One Orange at a Time

I’ve found the there are two tricks to visioning our individual lives. The first is basing the vision on an internal scorecard rather than other people’s expectations. The second trick is to vision at the time scale of years (at least 5), rather than months or quarters. 

I’ve also found that there are two tricks to planning. First, the plan has to have clear, simple outcomes (that actually matter). The second trick is to plan at the time scale of a season, because the changing conditions of human life don’t often stick to a calendar. 

But even after adhering to these principles, I still find myself being stressed on a day to day basis.

Theres a concept in dance, during rehearsal time, called “full out.” Basically, when you are rehearsing you have to dance at your fullest, with as much energy as you would have during a performance. You practice how you play.

Dancing full out at rehearsal takes a lot of motivation. It’s hard work, and you don’t have the energy of the audience to draw from. It’s easier to rehearse lazily. 

But it actually feels good to rehearse full out. It feels purposeful and satisfying, much like how a runner might feel after pushing hard on a training run. Rehearsing full out is also the fastest way to get better.

There are times when the minute I’m living in is in an awkward purgatory that’s neither rest, work, reflection, nor leisure. Those purposeless minutes without being “full out” in any direction are when anxiety washes over me against my will.

Visioning and planning are very important. But life is lived in minutes at a time. And it’s stressful when those minutes are unmanaged, because you feel them being wasted as they pass. Each minute is like an orange, rotting unless we squeeze every last bit of juice from them. 

For a long time, I tried to live life day by day or week by week, which is overwhelming because that’s like trying to juice 1440 oranges at a time. Truly living at the time scale of weeks or days is impossible, or at a minimum grueling. It’s too much to focus on at once, we can only manage smaller bites.

What I realized today is that when I am stressed, it’s normally because I’m not focusing on the minute I’m in, and living it full out. Rather, I’m focused on upcoming minutes I have no control over.

What I intend to do now, when I feel the anxiety of purposeless minutes running me over a washboard is to take a second and think about what I want to do with the few minutes I have in my hand. And do my best to squeeze as much juice from those minutes as I can.