Purposeful Wandering

“Ultimately–but not initially, or even much before he got to where he was going–Boone was able to establish a clear destination and a route that worked to get him there. Boone thus had a strategy of purposeful wandering, and it is true that he was not exactly lost; rather, he was working at finding himself where he wanted to be. So wandering with a purpose is an important aspect of strategic planning, in which thinking, acting, and learning clearly matter the most.” – my strategic planning textbook, strangely enough


I know that I was supposed to be thinking about organizational and strategic planning, but instead I thought about planning my life. Thinking, acting, and learning clearly matter the most. I want to work at finding myself where I want to be. 

Strategic planning places a focus on collaborative decision making and on focusing on goals and visions before smaller details. In strategic planning, teams create a vision for where they want their organization to be in amount of years. This vision is often broad and can lead to many different goals and strategies. Next, strategic goals are created. Then, and only then, are strategies developed to reach these goals. I know i’m supposed to be thinking about how I can apply all of this to my professional life, but really I just keep picturing the strategic planning team I have assembled in my mind, made up of a multitude of Mackenzie’s. I am working on defining where I want to go and who I want to be over the next five years (and beyond). And until I decide this, it is never going to get any easier to decide on the appropriate strategies to getting there.

Up until this point, I have been fantastic at only making choices that delay making choices, or that ultimately open up more choices. A lot of my choices have made themselves or haven’t been made at all. I have avoided doing the thing I am worst at, which is being definite and being intentional.

I waver. I am diplomatic. I weigh my options. I make pro-con lists. I consider the influences of others, and the impact of myself. I think and I think and I think until the choice has already played itself out or it is too late to make it. And so far, this has worked. However, as things start to become more narrow and more specialized and choices start to have longer lasting and more permanent implications, it may be time to rethink my strategies.

Ultimately, life is for becoming who you want to be. But, sometimes, deciding who you want to be makes it really hard to figure out how to get there. I don’t want to have to decide; I want to be all of the versions that I can envision and I want to be versions that I haven’t yet dreamed of. Eventually, opportunities are going to present themselves and I am going to have to choose either to pursue them or not to. And although this is the basic structure of decision making, that “either/or” feels impossible to me.

This is a post and a moment of “I don’t knows”. It feels like I’m going to be asked to make choices that I’m not going to be able to avoid or ignore. I am afraid of choosing wrong. I am afraid of letting cobwebs grow in the doorway that I don’t decide to take. I am afraid of not becoming the person that I want to be because I became a person that was easier to see and easier to understand instead.

I don’t want to give up on the person that I could be in favor of one that I already know. I don’t want reading a book I know I like to stop me from learning from a new one. I don’t want to give in to the logic inside my head.

At the end of every semester when things start to get busy and I start to feel as though there is no way I will ever complete everything, I remember all of the times I felt that before. I remember the papers that I didn’t think I would finish and the grades that I didn’t think I would earn. I remember finishing them, and earning them. With this, I always feel newly able to take on the assignments ahead of me. I guess this doesn’t have to be so different.

It feels as though there are choices ahead that I will never be able to make and that I will never be able to figure out what I really want. But, I once felt that same way about going to college. About choosing a major. About whether I should study abroad. About what to do after graduating. About going to grad school. I didn’t think I would, but somehow, I knew what to do when the time came to do it. And I guess this next step is just about trusting myself to continue to know. I’ve done it before, so what’s to stop me from doing it again? The choices might be new, but I’m still here.

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