Ndifreke Ekott

Thoughts, stories, ideas and programming

06 Jul 2020

Is everyday living a series of learning from the past, living by approximation and making compromises?

I was on my morning run, and usually, I have my headphones on and turn on my activity tracker. I have been doing this for months now ever since I started aiming to drop my weight. For someone who isn’t good at running nor enjoys it, the start was really tough. Like all good intentions, I started out by reading opinion blogs on the number of calories you needed to burn each day to lose x number of kilos within 30 days.

I tried following the recommended regiment, including diet, and it didn’t work out. I gave up halfway. Some days, I am mentally tired from work, commute and the usual things that happen in everyday living to hit the gym and fry those fats. With each disappointment, I lost the motivation and considered the outcome that I may never achieve that weight loss goal.

Something changed, later on, I decided to adjust my goals. Rather than focus on the specific weight target, I focused more on routine. Rather than think I need to burn 1500 calories, I made my goal running around the park 3 times. I then added repetition to the mix - I should do this run at least three times a week. The goals were achievable, and on some good weeks when I am on a high, I went to the park 5 days a week and even had to tell myself to slow down.

In the last couple of months, I lost 20kg. It didn’t happen in 30 days but over 6 months. There were times I didn’t feel like going to the park each day, but worst case scenario I took a long walk and clocked 5km at least. I was compensating for the lack of motivation to run by at going on a long walk instead.

Let’s switch back to the things we learned as kids and how we actually face reality as adults. I was an okay maths and physics student. If you ever paid attention while in school, you would recognise the age-old formula

where v(t) is velocity in respect to time t, dx​ is distance and dt is change change in time. To cover a distance within a period, you had to increase your velocity travel.

The formula is most accurate on the premise that everything around you is constant and unchanging and the present condition on which this travel is happening remains unchanged. If only life were as simple and consistent as the Velocity formula.

Life happens. A phrase we all know too well. You may start on a journey taking into consideration the present climate, which is what any person would do. As you travel, there may be roadblocks you may have to go around, detours happen. As a result, your time frame may adjust considerably or marginally depending on circumstance. You may need to defer a goal due to more pressing matters than need attention, your frame of mind may also need adjustment or rest in some cases.

Most of the biggest disappointments we feel within ourselves is when we have many goals set in stone, and we fail to achieve them. We sometimes may do everything in our power to get to those goals but still, feel like we lost so much as such the glory we once sort didn’t feel too satisfying. Missing out on relationships, happy moments, opportunities to relax, re-energise all because we have a finite timeframe. These are the little pressures that build up and eventually lead to burn out.

Space Launches are one of the most precise exercises currently undertaken by humans in our present galaxy. Even the adventures of space are fraught with uncertainty, compromises, recalibration and all sorts. So the good scientists know when to defer a launch when to break a goal into smaller chunks and possibly achieve the complete vision within 10 to 20 years as opposed to one full blast off. And don’t forget how many times changes in weather has affected the Launch window.

So what am I saying? Live can’t be lived only on precision. It is good to be precise, and if you can get those goals, go for it but take into consideration other factors. And everyone has had to sacrifice something to excel in life. We never have it all, and even when we eventually attain all we hoped for, it happens over some time.

One of the lessons currently apply is one by Eric Schmidt from the book How Google Works and it had something to do with Ships and travelling. I describe my current interpretation in my own understanding below.

Live life like a Ship. A Ship adjusts its sail according to the wind. A Ship may not always travel in a straight line. Still, it will generally go in an approximate direction to its destination. Sometimes the winds and waves are so high that you may have to dock in an unplanned shore. Don’t be discouraged but explore this new shore, they may be lessons to learn, or this may be an opportunity to cool down and not set on the grand goal for a time while living life.

In conclusion, I feel a healthy mixture of precision, approximation, and compensation are the ingredients for a balanced life.

A climb to the top of a mountain begins at the base. A few pauses to rest or take a look around at the scenery makes the expedition worthwhile. - Ndifreke Ekott 2020