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Plan B – The World Doesn’t Need To Know

How many times have we given thought to a list of outcomes we’d love to make real in our lives? It frequently seems a never-ending process, almost against our will. Once an outcome morphs itself into a goal-worthy project, we apply our energy towards its attainment. Most goals people set aren’t met. Either they didn’t have sufficient desire, or if they did, the strategy invoked was ill equipped or mis-applied, the result being equally dissatisfying.

Assuming sufficient desire, and that the strategy itself was faulty, not its application, a new approach is required.

Plan B

This isn’t about what Plan B is or isn’t. It’s about us deciding whether or not to broadcast it to the world. There are some outcomes and/or strategies almost guaranteed to work better, or more bluntly put, work at all, when kept under the radar. It could simply be that you’d rather keep the desired outcome to yourself. Or, it could be the strategy you wish to keep undercover. The reasons don’t matter. You have your own. We all do, right?

A case in point.

In the early 80′s I knew a nice woman who was dangerously over weight. It’d been that way since early childhood. One day it dawned on me I hadn’t seen or heard from her in awhile. I called, but her number had been disconnected. Almost two years later I was dumbfounded, as there she was at a Christmas gathering. She’d lost well over 100 pounds. Nobody except her grandparents had known what she was up to or where she was. (She’d moved to live with them as part of her Plan B.)

We’d been relatively close, so she confided in me. Everyone insisted on making a huge deal of her weight, whether she was gaining or losing. It’d been emotionally debilitating. She’d resolved to lose the weight, but away from pryin’ eyes. Nobody could’ve interrupted her strategic process if they were unaware of its existence.

You can’t argue with success, though some insist on trying.

There are some outcomes, some strategies, for which public knowledge is counterproductive. That judgment is for each of us to make, not anyone else. Whatever the reason, the choice to keep your goal and/or strategy under the radar is your own, and sufficient unto itself. It need not be justified.

Most of the outcomes I’ve chosen to pursue have been designed to remain concealed and anonymous. It’s difficult to run a train off its track if you’re unaware of its existence. On these pages I’ve shared goals for which there could be little or no surprise. Nobody gives a rat’s patootie if an agent announces a sales or listing goal.

On the other hand, making some goals public, even semi-public can either tip your hand, resulting in the reduction of potential results, or worse, roadblock the attainment of the sought after results altogether. Do you really want your competition on the lookout for your new marketing materials? Have a new concept you’re absolutely positive will blow the doors off? Keep it to yourself. Perfect it without distraction from those who would derail your plans. Their intent is completely irrelevant.

Derailed is derailed.

Whether it’s business, personal, or floating on the endless sea of gray found in the middle, I ask myself if there’s any likelihood whatsoever that the goal’s chances for success will be enhanced by making anyone else aware of its existence.

Sometimes our goals are protective or defensive in nature. When your agenda is your own, others can’t sabotage you, whether well meaning or with bad intent. A good friend of mine once decided to set up a team. HIs office offered many solid candidates, but he didn’t wanna risk losing any of his A-List choices due to anyone else beating him to the punch. To this day he’s convinced keeping his goal to himself was crucial to landing the agents he wanted most.

What goal are you contemplating that might be more easily accomplished or attained earlier if you just kept it to yourself? Folks can’t sabotage your efforts when they have no idea there’s an agenda in play.

Food for thought. More goals are created and planned for in the last month of each year than at any other time. What advantages/benefits might be gained if you choose stealth as part of your strategy? Find out how cool it feels to accomplish a goal before anyone even realizes it was on your radar.

The world doesn’t need to know everything you’ve put on your menu — does it?

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  • 13 comments

    13 Comments so far

    1. Jim Klein November 29th, 2010 9:01 pm

      Another great one, Jeff. It’s a big deal, privacy and all—the facts of what we can know about each other, and the judgment of what we ought to do about it. And I surely agree that the best tack is very often, “Keep your mouth shut!”

      Though I’m not certain that telling anyone would’ve changed losing the weight, given sufficient motivation. No matter, because here’s the line that caught me—”Most goals people set aren’t met.”

      Is that right? We know what it means, “There are things we imagine being great that we do nothing to obtain,” but is that really an example of “goals being set and not met”?

      Offhand, I think not. I guess that’s what catches me about the sentence, that it strikes me as nearly oxymoronic or referentless. I’d say the referent set to which it refers (IOW the instances and events to which it points) is, “goals which are deemed by the judging mechanism to be lower in value than the alternative goals that are actually obtained.”

      I mean, that’s what’s always going on, isn’t it? Whatever desire or pleasure we indulge, or long-term goal that we set, we do it by (somehow!) concluding that THIS is the goal we’ll achieve, and not THAT. Taking an extreme, isn’t shooting junk into veins a decision that some (albeit physical) goal is going to be obtained in preference to some other, nay all other, goals? Is there such a thing as an exception to this, whereby a human consciousness, barring coma or convulsions, is doing something other than obtaining the goals and values chosen?

      I guess I can’t see what we do EXCEPT make goals and obtain them! Closely analyzed, is there any action we take that consists of something other than that? We can point to habit and instincts, but even both of those are manifested via conceptualization and volition. IOW even they are a subset of goal setting and attainment. I’m not offering how sensible we are, nor how our decisions come to be; I’m just offering that it might be the case that technically speaking, there’s never been a goal that wasn’t met. Whatever it was, it was something else!

      A goal is that which is created by a conceptual volitional being as an abstract means of physically motivating its body, via a focus on alternatives and the choosing from among them. Obviously we can distinguish between “instantiated goals” and “uninstantiated goals,” which is what you so sensibly write about, but it’s worthwhile to remember that on the assumption any rational goal is achievable, the difference between the two–instantiated and uninstantiated–is exclusively our own individual judgment mechanism and absolutely nothing else.

      Maybe try this…a set goal has never not been met; it’s only been superseded!

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    3. Jeff Brown November 29th, 2010 9:47 pm

      Hey Jim — I think I’m somewhat simpler in approach.

      > Is that right? We know what it means, “There are things we imagine being great that we do nothing to obtain,” but is that really an example of “goals being set and not met”?

      I don’t view imagined goals as goals at all. A set goal is one put down in writing with an equally well thought out plan for achieving it.

      When I said ‘Most goals set are not met’ I was speaking in the literal sense. When a goal is given enough value by the goal setter to be put down in writing, including a detailed written plan, then and ONLY then do I consider it an ‘officially’ set goal.

      The rest, as I’m fond of saying, is but Happy Talk.

    4. Sean Purcell November 30th, 2010 9:49 am

      Another great post Jeff. I agree with your Plan B concept. I am right now working on a goal which I’ve kept private from family and friends. What I find interesting is how often roadblocks and dissuasive advice arise from our friend’s and family’s best intentions. The road to hell and all that.

      Jim – although not where Jeff was going with his post, I understand your point. My question: are we to assume that all people are rationally acting? Most people? All of the time? Most of the time?

      I agree that no matter what we do or have, it is exactly ours… the goal is always being met in that sense. But the goal is often an almost reptilian response (“Pain is Bad”) rather than a rational and comparative analysis. I propose to you that a great many people operate at least some of the time (and some people all of the time) based on a model of fear and inertia rather than splendor and critical analysis.

      The junkie may have subjugated all other goals to the next high, but I would call that high a “goal” only in the broadest (almost meaningless) context.

    5. Jim Klein November 30th, 2010 9:56 am

      >>>I don’t view imagined goals as goals at all.

      We’re saying the same thing, Jeff; I just have a tendency toward verbosity! I’m only pointing out the actuality of the matter, the ontology Greg might say. You can have standards such as writing goals down or formulating a Plan of Action, but those themselves are merely intimating the degree of intention. In the end there’s nothing BUT the intention, and that’s all I was saying.

      Formally, it might be this, “For every action A taken by person P, A was a goal of P. Every goal of P that didn’t become A, was superseded by another goal of P.” Those latter would be what we’re both calling imagined goals of course, irrespective of their written status or even the judgment of another as to their sincerity. Every action we take is the manifestation of (a series of) goals; every action we don’t was overridden by superior goals.

      Rationality is not fooling ourselves about anything. I’d offer this as the reason some people set their goals and achieve them, while others have endless rationalizations about why so many of their imagined goals never come to fruition…inevitably due to factors outside of their control, as if there could be such a thing with regard to one’s own life.

      Many things can happen TO us that we don’t control. And yet not a single thing can happen BY us, that we don’t. The entire class of those, commonly called an adult lifetime, is the set of the instantiated goals of the individual. This is a fact, regardless of what the individual calls the uninstantiated ones, or even whether or not he writes them down.

      It’s rather afield of your main point (which maybe I should heed!), but I conclude it’s something worthwhile that most people would do well to know. So the goal of keeping my yap shut–a wise one indeed–is superseded by my goal of imparting information. That’s all.

    6. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2010 10:00 am

      Hey Sean — Anything I can do to help with your goal, let me know. My lips are sealed.

    7. Jim Klein November 30th, 2010 10:54 am

      >>>I propose to you that a great many people operate at least some of the time (and some people all of the time) based on a model of fear and inertia rather than splendor and critical analysis.

      Indeed…that’s why I’m a proponent of splendor and critical analysis! I guess my point is this…

      >>>The junkie may have subjugated all other goals to the next high, but I would call that high a “goal” only in the broadest (almost meaningless) context.

      But you’ve turned it upside-down with this. You’re RATING the goals, an admirable activity to be sure, and I’m just pointing out that they’re all really the same thing ultimately…a cognitive, judging mind choosing from among alternatives. Splendor makes a ton more sense than junkiedom, but both actors are engaging the same underlying activity. That’s about the extent of my point and until the junkie knows the facts about why that’s a poor decision, there isn’t the slightest chance that anything can change.

      This is all about the is/ought relationship. It is impossible to get to a “proper ought” without an underlying “proper is,” and I just think it’s an important meta-fact to recognize that this is what we’re doing, all the time. You can’t wave aside the junkie’s existence by calling his a “meaningless goal,” since it may be your house into which he breaks, looking for loot.

      His goals are pretty important then, right?

      Stretch that into the political scene, and the problems are much worse. Peace will break out when folks decide they want peace to break out; I figure it can only help pointing out the nature of that mechanism. As far as whether folks are rational or not, clearly they’re not when they’re seeking something other than splendor, and clearly they are when they are.

      But that’s only clear to a minority. Most people are seeking “absence of fear” as you note, or something equally nebulous. That’s what drives them to take what you’ve got…or worse, believing that others taking what you’ve got on their behalf, will somehow serve their highest goals. This is an error, a false-to-fact belief. It’s why they later look around in stupor and wonder why all the wonderful things they imagined, didn’t happen.

      Besides, pointing out errors doesn’t accomplish very much without the underlying belief that errors ought to be avoided. Neither does having irrational goals, like wanting to be stoned all the time or forever hoping to win the lottery or believing that we can forever “rid the world of cannibals by eating them.”

      As long as people falsely believe that the actions of others can somehow achieve their own goals, they are engaging a misidentification, one which causes them to adjust their own goals irrationally and subsequently causing civilization to go down the crapper.

      We will become “civil” when we understand that each and every person is likewise situated and engaging in the same fundamental actions—identifying and judging. The goals, all of ‘em, are the manifestation of this process, and that’s all I’m trying to point out.

      Hey, I never claimed relevance!

    8. Sean Purcell November 30th, 2010 12:36 pm

      Your point is well-taken, from a solipsistic view point (and really, is there any other kind?) As a rational being who is also the only existing being – as far as I know – it makes the most sense to view the actions of others as evident of their goals. Anything else creates irrational inter-relations. Unfortunately, so few people understand this that we are surrounded by the buffoonery of inter-relations based on other than rational solipsism. Thus far, I think we agree.

      When so few understand the philosophy, doesn’t it help to step out of the language? When I discuss with people their “auto-pilot,” the inertia guiding much of their lives, they understand it. If you were to tell most people that the junkie is manifesting his own hierarchy of goals, I don’t think it’s all that understood.

      Yes, when the junkie gets high he is, by definition, satisfying his primary goal. But while true in the most absolute sense, that is not the model of goal setting and rational presence that I would hold up as a paragon.

    9. Jason Lopez November 30th, 2010 6:46 pm

      THX Jeff. This came at a great time and gave me some food for thought!

    10. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2010 7:20 pm

      Hey Jason — Always good to hear from the 619.

    11. Jim Klein November 30th, 2010 11:38 pm

      I’m not so sure about the solipsism part, Sean. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as rational solipsism…though apparently there’s at least one instance!

      >>>When so few understand the philosophy, doesn’t it help to step out of the language? When I discuss with people their “auto-pilot,” the inertia guiding much of their lives, they understand it.

      Well yeah, but I’d say that’s an argument for not stepping out of the language and trying to express that there can be answers besides fear and inertia. The truth, for one. The truth isn’t some ethereal nirvana of any sort of understanding, like say speaking in tongues. It’s a specific type of understanding—knowledge arising of identification.

      Truth is known, and especially communicated, by an immersion in the language, I’d say.

      >>>If you were to tell most people that the junkie is manifesting his own hierarchy of goals, I don’t think it’s all that understood.

      Right, which is why I find it worthwhile to note. If it were widely understood as correct, I’d let it pass!

      And if the junkie could come to understand it, he’d probably be an ex-junkie in about five minutes.

      >>>Yes, when the junkie gets high he is, by definition, satisfying his primary goal. But while true in the most absolute sense, that is not the model of goal setting and rational presence that I would hold up as a paragon.

      Right again, but “model of goal-setting” only gains its meaning on the implicit premise that there’s something to match the goals against. Otherwise any sort of “understanding” is as good as any other sort, fear and inertia included.

      Obviously I’m not arguing for moral relativism, such that the junkie’s goals are as worthy as the businessman’s. Plus, I’m a big fan of rational presence! I just begin at the beginning, and they are indeed goals. The next step would be to look at “worthy” or “valuable” or “beneficial” and figure out what those concepts denote.

      Written or not, instantiated or not, our goals are not external to ourselves. Their existence is exclusively within our minds, and they are the creation of our minds. You might call that solipsism, but to me solipsism would imply that nothing else exists. I’m hardly saying that–just for starters the objects and means of our goals are extant outside of our minds–but I am saying that qua goals, there is no other source nor location of those goals than a single individual mind. This is something Rand had terribly wrong IMO, and much of her philosophy eventually suffered for it…at least once it was in the hands of her trustees. She tried to play it both ways…goals are the product of conceptual abstraction, and goals are inherent in the nature of any living organism. Only the first is correct, and a silly footnote about “non-purposeful goals” didn’t make up for the error. It’s an important point and even obliquely relates to Jeff’s post insofar as people believe there can be goals that are somehow disjoint from the actor creating them. There can’t be, not even when they exist as something written on paper. That’s about the whole of my point, and again I’m not making any grand claim of relevance.

      Goals are conceptual existents, denoting an intention of action. As there is no action we are not able to take (again on the assumption that we devise achievable goals), then the failure of any particular goal to instantiate can rest on only one explanation—some other goal superseded it, in the judgment of the actor.

      Most people pretend that their lives consist of bouncing from one event to the next, and that the goals they set have little to do with how those events run. As I see it, that’s a gross misunderstanding of the nature of their existence…so gross that it was worth hijacking Jeff’s post to point it out. Hell, Jeff may not even know what I’m yammering on about, since it’s so plain to him that individuals set goals and individuals achieve them. Indeed, many of the folks here may not realize that for many, many people in the world, goals are something they can dream about, but only other people can get.

      If the ultimate rational goal is Splendor or Happiness or whatever you wanna call it, then it’s pretty important for people to understand what goals are, and that they have them every waking moment of their lives.

    12. Greg Swann December 1st, 2010 7:20 am

      > As a rational being who is also the only existing being – as far as I know

      I’ll do what Jim didn’t: Why would you presume that entities that, to every evidence, are ontologically identical to you somehow might not be? It is understood that Occam’s Razor is a guess, but it is an amazingly educated, highly reliable guess. What benefit is there to nourishing doubt in a circumstance where drawing the obvious conclusion — that other people are just like you in all but the most trivial existential details — yields so much intellectual profit?

    13. Jim Klein December 1st, 2010 12:56 pm

      I thought about that very point, Greg, aside from the issue of solipsism. When I see the spectaculars that Henry Ford built, to name just one, I am in awe of the amount of production that rests within 7 billion people…all of whom are effectively the same in this regard. Unfathomable.

      These days, I get the same feeling (being in awe of the productive ability we each hold) by looking at (and understanding!) what goes on, on a typical farm. Production takes many forms, of course, but the amount of physical production–and especially the phenomenal efficiencies–created by even single farmers, is truly Splendor on Earth.

      If only I knew then, what I know now…