And so far Woz Cap fits
It doesn’t matter how much you think and plan for something, there’s always something that’s going to make the actual experience different than the one you anticipated.
Imagine trying to learn to swim by reading a book. Or try explaining to someone what it feels like to plunge you hand into a tub of warm swirling water. While you know instantly what that sensation feels like, it is nearly impossible to describe with words.
So as much as you think you’ve planned for retirement, sending a child off to college, buying a beach house, or starting a new career, you can have your expectations and your plans, but
“Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson
In the world of finance, people often try to model things algorithm’s. This is because they believe that an algorithm will provide the answers.
The problem with this is that we don’t live in a coin toss world. What I mean by that is that if you toss coins enough times, the number of heads vs tails will arrive at the average of anyone and everyone else that has ever tossed coins.
It doesn’t matter if you begin today, next week, or five years from now. The outcomes will always eventually come out to the average.
We don’t live in that world. Instead, we live in a world in which the decisions made by people today will influence the outcomes of those in the future, whether you know it or not. You have no control of that, and you can’t even influence it the slightest little bit – and as a recovering control enthusiast that was a hard lesson to accept.
This is why I can say without question that our experiences will be different from those that have come before us and those that will follow. So, how do you handle that?
“At some point, everything’s going to go south on you. You’re going to say, ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now you can accept that, or you can get to work.” – Mark Watney, The Martian
Thank goodness I was never stuck on Mars.
What I like about Mark’s quote is that he’s acknowledging that things are not going to go as planned. If you start with that, it can really help with your emotions when things deviate from your plan.
Sean Webb wrote about the Equation of Emotion in his book “Mind Hacking Happiness”. This is a pretty elegant equation.
E/P ∆ P = ER
E/P is your expectation or preference.
P is your perception of what’s happening at this moment.
ER is your emotional response.
The ∆ is just the difference between your expectation or preference vs. your perception of what’s going on, and your emotional response is the result – see, elegant.
So, if after several weeks of watching what I eat and working out diligently I expect that I will have lost weight. When I hop on the scale and find out that I haven’t lost weight (or as much as I would have hoped), I have a negative emotional response.
On the other hand, if I dropped a lot of weight, I might have a positive emotional response.
This equation is important in all areas of life, because like Mark Watney, if you expect that something’s going to go wrong at some point, it won’t have the same impact.
And lest you think that controlling your emotions isn’t important, studies have shown that those with a negative emotional state have an IQ that is 15-20 points lower than when they are in a positive emotional state.
So, being upset makes you less smart, and solving problems is hard enough without having to do it with fewer IQ points.
We are all going to experience things in our lives that we didn’t expect. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that things won’t change or deviate from our plans.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus
Unfortunately, the only constant in life is change, and the only thing that makes you resilient is your ability to adapt to that change.
If you set yourself up in advance for the inevitability of change, you will be prepared to handle whatever life throws at you.