A few weeks after my diagnosis, I noticed a change in the appearance of my arms. There was a loss in muscle tone and subtle wrinkles where the skin was previously taught. My initial reaction was, "I need to find an exercise that'll put the muscle tone back in my arms."
Then reality hit me, through some harsh self-talk:
You've got f---ing lung cancer, you fool. Most people die from this stuff. Don't focus on preserving the appearance of your arms when you should be focused on preserving the presence of your life! In a few months, your body may have changed dramatically, and there may be nothing can you do about it!" Yeah, I gave myself a wake-up call.
The point is this: Don't invest your energies into fixing something that's destined to change despite your efforts; Instead, channel your energies into your future state; take the long view.
The Stage 4 Lesson
Channel your time, effort and resources into a project according to the way things are going to be, not the way they are now.
If you're in business, don't develop your product based solely on your customers' needs today, without considering the how today's business environment may be different tomorrow.
Take the long view, and focus your mind, energy, emotions and assets on the way things are going to be; not the way they are now. This is common sense, but like a lot of common sense, it's ignored regularly, and therefore bears repeating.
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky was once asked what one skill on the ice most contributed to his success. He responded by saying that he always tried to skate to where the puck was going to be, not where it has already been. This was his point: you can skate your butt off to where the puck is right now, but by the time you get there, the puck will be someplace else on the ice. Short-sighted intentions burn a lot of energy and generate a lot of frustration. And the frustration then contributes to more negative results and frustration.
As a cancer patient, or anyone who's faced with a major challenge, approach that challenge in a smart way. Understand what the "environmental factors" are, and how those factors are likely to change. Then allocate your efforts and attention in a way that's aligned with the environmental changes.
Another way to look at this: You're on vacation at the beach, and you decide to build a sandcastle; adding to it each day of your 7-day vacation. It's going to take a lot of time, sand and creativity. If you begin building the sandcastle at low tide, and you build it too close to the water, when the tide comes in (as it does every 11 hours), your castle and all your effort will be washed away. In this example, the key environmental factor is the tide.
What're the key environmental factors in your projects?
What are the variables of each of the factors?
How will the variables impact the success of the project?
How should you change your plan, based on the environmental factors?
And how predictable are those factors?