Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do You Have A "Glaring Story Problem"?

“Indiana Jones plays no role in the outcome of the story. If he weren’t in the film, it would turn out exactly the same… If he weren’t in the movie, the Nazis would still have found the Ark, taken it to the island, opened it up, and all died, just like they did.”

~Amy Farrah Fowler (Big Bang Theory)

I'm a big Indiana Jones fan, and I'm also a huge Big Bang Theory fan.  I think one of the funniest episodes is the one where Amy Farrah Fowler ruins Indiana Jones for Sheldon by pointing out what she described as "a glaring story problem."  Indiana Jones didn't really do anything in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  If Indiana Jones hadn't been in the movie at all, nothing would have changed--the movie would have ended exactly the same way.  It's a crushing realization to Sheldon and his friends.

Now a lot of Indiana Jones fans didn't find that humorous, but I did.  I've come to realize since, there's a lot of people like that in the real world. Sometimes you have to take a step back and really look at what you're doing.  Are you actually contributing anything, or are you just busy all the time?  Are the things you're doing having the desired outcome, or in the end are you just wasting your time and energy needlessly and never getting any closer to your goal?  Like Indiana Jones, we often spend an awful lot of time reacting without thinking.  We go through life chasing after the things we want without a clear plan, and as a result we wind up spending all of our time reacting to the obstacles we find in our way.  And like Indiana Jones, if we do manage to catch up to our goal eventually, we find out it wasn't what we thought it was going to be at all, and that big pay-off we thought we were going to get in the end remains just out of reach.

There's probably no better habit you can get into than making a list of goals, then creating a plan to achieve them, and sitting down periodically to review how it's going and make modifications to the plan as needed.  That's something I've usually been very consistent about, but as this year comes to a close, I realize I've had one of my least productive years in a decade.  There was no book this year.  I did some writing, but nothing memorable or groundbreaking.  I realized I was Indiana Jones.  I spent an exhausting and busy year chasing around in a dozen different directions and accomplished very little in the end.  Because there was no plan, I spent a year reacting instead of acting.

So it's back to the drawing board for me.  So remember.  It's difficult to find a destination without a map, and it's impossible to reach a goal without a plan.

~Todd E. Creason

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