Recently I watched a video of Ray Kurzweil’s presentation on TED where he explained the exponential growth of technology. The number of transistors in a chip, for instance, increases exponentially over time. As a result, projects like Human Genome Project took much less time to complete than the initial expectation.
There is a statement in the video that interests me. Kurzweil said that while a single technological event seems chaotic, as a whole those events reveal a clear pattern. In this case, the pattern is exponential growth. It’s similar to phenomenon in physics where the behavior of individual gas molecule is chaotic but the behavior of the gas as a whole is predictable.
I believe a similar thing happens in life. While single events in our life may seem chaotic, those events as a whole reveal clear patterns. Looking for the patterns is a good way for doing life check and making progress in life.
The problem is we often take single events too seriously. We try to figure out what they mean and let them influence our attitudes and decisions. A single negative comment, for instance, could affect our confidence and self worth. But taking such events too seriously won’t do us good since they are more or less chaotic in nature.
What you should do is looking for the patterns in your life. Instead of looking too closely at any single event, try to understand what those events as a whole mean.
So do a life check by looking for your life patterns. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Find your passions
I wrote previously that passions are essential for achieving success. The problem is many people don’t recognize what their passions are. Even for those who recognize their passions, there may be other passions that are still waiting to be found. Nathan Myhrvold, for example, lives his passions in archeology, photography, and many others only after he left Microsoft.
Looking at your life patterns will help you find your passions. Here are two questions that can help you:
- What were the moments that make you excited? What did you do at that time?
- What are the activities that absorb you so much that you no longer realize the passage of time?
While looking at those moments and activities individually may not be meaningful, looking for the patterns across them could be enlightening.
2. Find where you are heading
Looking at how your life has been helps you project how your life will be. A good way to do this is by creating a simple life map. The life map helps you see important events in you life. By looking at them, you can see the big picture of your life. You can then ask yourself:
- What are the things that I have consistently succeeded in?
- Does my career show a pattern? What kind of companies do I work for? What kind of problems do I solve?
Looking at these patterns can help you see how your life might be in the future. You can then prepare yourself better.
3. Identify your chronic problems
You might have weaknesses that drag you down for years without you realizing them. Perhaps you just think of them as small problems that will disappear by themselves. But they could actually be chronic problems that you need to face and solve. This question can help you identify them:
What failures – even if they seem small – have you experienced over and over again?
Doing a life check will help you improve your life. Instead of solving the symptoms, you will solve the root of the problems. Instead of taking whatever opportunity you see, you will have long term plan of how your life will be.
By looking at your life’s predictable big picture instead of chaotic single events you will make progress. Your progress may seem small, but after 10 or 20 years you will be amazed at how far you’ve gone and how much time you’ve saved.
Photo by gailf548