Pursuing vs. ensuing

There are two extremes at how you approach a goal. 

Pursuing: At one end, you are in pursuing mode, chasing the goal directly, stopping at nothing to achieve it—you are going to get it, or you will die trying. You say no to the many inessential items because they are distractions. You do your best to collect information and plan out next steps, practicing second- and third-order thinking. You are full sending it—committed and driving it through.

The drawback with pursuing mode is the level of intensity it requires, and the focus it requires costs you myopia. Life may quickly pass you by, and you might wonder if you were too close-minded to other opportunities. You will need to make difficult personal and professional decisions. You might even realize too late that you missed a great opportunity—maybe even to achieve your goal sooner—because you were hung up on walking the path you had envisioned. Sometimes you trip up because you feel so close to your goal. You may try to control things that are barely in your influence, causing you emotional turmoil.

Ensuing: At the other end, you are in ensuing mode, where you surrender to the present moment, doing nothing to achieve the goal—you will just roll with what’s in front of you, and trust that life will bring you towards the goal. If it doesn’t, you have faith that the goal wasn’t meant to be, and that life will take you to something better. You are open to new options and paths.

The drawback with ensuing mode is it diffuses your energy. Life similarly passes you by, and you may find you have little to show for it because you didn’t commit enough to make something lasting. You don’t exert any control over your life, drifting in the wind, and practice finding satisfaction in whatever life presents you—which may not be to your preference. 

Pushing the dial: The best way to approach these modes is knowing when to adjust in each direction. For starters, the people around you will probably give you a sense of when you need to turn up to pursuing mode, or let go into ensuing mode. A friend might tell you that you need to take a couple of weeks and clear your head—ensuing mode—or that you need to take a big swing with what’s in front of you—pursuing mode. 

Another way to approach it is to try to oscillate between the pursuing mode and ensuing mode, with a sense of controlled sloppiness. Control what you can, accept what you can’t, and try to find a sense of harmony between both.

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