No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him. – Seneca
What does that mean?
While this quote has a slightly different meaning in the context of the letter to Lucilius, the basic topic was the of the futility of half-measures.
The image of someone swimming to shore from a sinking boat trying to carry all their possessions immediately sprang into my mind. How about you? Is that what you thought of when you read the title?
But the conversation was leaving cleanly the things which are as much burdens as they are gifts. Possessions which bring as much agony as they bring pride. Either keep them or get rid of them. Keeping just a few is still painful.
While not everything is so clear cut, there is usually a clear line between doing something fully, and doing it half-way. And if you are to quit, do so clearly and decisively.
Why is making a decision important?
You don’t go on a date thinking you’ll marry that person if things go well. There are steps and stages in a relationship. But to be indecisive, to dabble, to refuse to decide, after dating for a couple of years, that’s doing it half-way. Decide, one way or the other, and move on with your life.
However, once you make a decision and follow it up with action, half-measures are no longer your problem. If you find yourself hesitating, looking back, or reconsidering, or if you find yourself avoiding putting your decision into action, you haven’t really decided, have you?
To decide means to cut yourself off from all other possibilities. If you are still considering other possible options, you haven’t really decided yet. You may have eliminated a few possibilities, but you still have yet to decide. Without that decision, your mind isn’t clear, and taking action is difficult.
Decisions don’t have to be permanent or far reaching, they just have to be real and concrete. You can decide to try a new restaurant. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever eat anywhere else, it just means you can head straight over to the restaurant and try something. If you can’t decide, you’re not going to eat any time soon, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Some decisions are easy, while others are hard. Some are complex, and others are straight forward. Some require great thought and investigation, others are done on a whim. But in each case, a decision has been made. Sometimes the decision isn’t important to you, so you let someone else decide. But still, the decision has been made.
Not deciding, and there fore not taking decisive action, is a real issue for quite a number of us. I tend to wait until I am certain that I can do something. You can imagine the difficulty I had preparing to start a family. Instead, I try to break such big decisions into smaller chunks and decide my way to the final decision.
When restoring a car, there are a million decisions to be made. If you fret about all of them up front, you will never get anything done. If you break it down to body modifications, interior, drive train and suspension, you can tackle one decision at a time. And not every decision has to be made up front, some can be deferred.
Do you need to know what rims you’re going to put on the car before you start the project? Not really, unless you’re wondering if you’re going to have to modify the wheel-wells or not. Other times, one large decision can help make a bunch of lesser decisions for you. If it’s going to be mostly stock, that answers the wheel question, right?
When do you have trouble deciding? What tends to get you nervous about choosing one path over another? Do you have enough information? Are you worried about someone’s feelings? Is there some concern that both paths have drawbacks, and you’re looking for something better? Are you worried that you will make the wrong decision?
I’ve written about decisions (and making them) before, however for this post, I’d like to consider another way of doing things. What if you decided to simply take the first step, and then revisit the decision? What if you were to decide to start by deciding to do in-depth research on the top two or three options?
Now you have more information. Next, decide to take the first step down the more promising path. Or decide to talk to the person you think you might hurt. When the first small step is done, re-evaluate your decision. Still good? Take another step. Not good? Back up and review your options. Just don’t do half measures because you aren’t sure.
Something to consider next time you’re avoiding a decision by procrastinating: Not deciding is a decision in itself.
From: Twitter, @quotesofseneca
confirmed at : http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/MoralLettersToLucilius/22 search: ‘baggage’
Photo by Impact Hub Global N