Causality and determinism: or, how to reach your goals… regardless of bad luck

Posted by in Articles, Business and Money Tags: on May 3, 2017 0 comments

Five lessons for learning to reach your goals, ignoring the unexpected.

Chance never helps those who do not help themselves.Sophocles

Causality and determinism or, how to reach your goals… regardless of bad luckCausality means the circumstance in which someone finds him/herself powerless to foresee the occurrence or development of a phenomenon or event. To put it more simply: bad luck.

Determinism is the philosophical doctrine according to which everything that exists or happens (an event), comprised of human knowledge and actions, is determined in caUSal (not caSUal!) ways by an uninterrupted chain of events that have happened before. Basically: cause and effect.

Every time that you choose a goal, you should consider causality and determinism: in the route towards your goal, you should put in place a series of actions to produce determined effects (determinism), and at the same time, you should face up to a series of unexpected events that could accelerate or slow down the true path to your objectives (causality).

Over the years, I have dealt with determinism and causality in the route towards my goals, and I have learned that five fundamental lessons exist for reaching your goals… regardless of luck:

1. Rethink your goals. “I want to win $50 million in the lottery within the next week.” I would say that this goal is rather well-constructed: it is specific ($50 million); it has a deadline (within the next week); and it is positively formulated (I want to win…). In summary, it has everything in good order, but there is just one little problem… it is not a goal! It is missing a fundamental ingredient: your role. When you choose a goal, it is important to define what your role will be in reaching it. What habits do you intend to change or establish to reach your goal? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Chance cannot be the only component in the game; you must take responsibility for your goals.

2. Concentrate on “why” not on “how”. When we choose goals, sometimes it happens that we tend to plan too much, trying to define every single action (the “how”). This approach makes us inflexible, and when we have to confront an unexpected event (causality), we shrug our shoulders and give up, telling ourselves that the goal is impossible. A pilot never chooses his/her route meter by meter, but makes continual adjustments in response to external conditions (wind, storms, delays etc.). When you choose a goal, define an overall plan, but do not take too much time planning every detail; concentrate rather on “why”. Take a piece of paper and make a list of 10 reasons for wanting to reach your goal: if the “why” is strong enough, when you are presented with the unexpected, you will find the “how”.

3. Be determined. On the path to your goals, the unexpected is a certainty. Do not ask yourself if you will meet obstacles; ask yourself if you are determined enough to overcome them. Determination is in fact the tool that enables you to bring causality and determinism closer together. Success is a stochastic event, the higher the number of attempts that we make to reach it, the greater its probability is. Do not let momentary defeats make you give up. As Dicky Fox would say: “Roll with the punches, tomorrow is another day.”

4. Choose your reaction. There is a space between the occurrence of an event and our reaction: you cannot choose if the event happens or not, but you can always choose how you react. Where many see a problem, some notice an opportunity. When you find yourself confronting the unexpected, try to imagine some improbable positive consequences of that event: do not limit your imagination. The first times perhaps nothing will come to your mind, but with time you will surprise yourself with how many opportunities are hiding within an apparent disaster.

5. Rethink your goals. Look at what I have already said! Sometimes it is not enough to choose objectives in a different way; sometimes it is necessary to understand that you need to choose different goals. The line that separates determination and stupidity is very fine. Insisting on continuing defeats, when the train has already left the station, is not determination: it is stupidity.

What role have determinism and causality played in your successes? Have you planned your success or was it just due to luck? Let me know in the comments. Thank you.