The Navigation Paradox

I really don’t know a lot about the different types of paradoxes. I do think they are really interesting, and I try to read on the various paradoxes when I have the chance. But what I want to try is to relate the Navigation Paradox to the process of setting and attaining goals. It may sound unusual, but please keep reading to further understand my meaning.

The conceptualization of the Navigation Paradox implies that with increased precision of navigation (for a ship), there is an increased risk in colliding with an obstacle. Therefore, the more precise you are in your navigation (i.e. less room for deviation), the more opportunities there are for a collision.

I think this directly applicable to an individual’s pursuit to attain what they desire in life. My comparison may infer a negative connotation – i.e. that precisely defining what you covet in life may make it too difficult to obtain; however, employing the opposite would also imply difficulties in achieving your goals. Furthermore, I am not advocating for that. My real point is that many people too precisely define what they want from life – whether it’s the form of a career goal, family goal, or personal goal – and they define it in a narrow frame. They leave few, if any alternative ways of achieving their goal, and as a result, a considerable number of opportunities for failure.

This is an issue I’ve struggled with for the better part of my life. I always assumed there was a preferred way of accomplishing or achieving something, and that any deviation or failure would be detrimental to my success in that goal. Since, I’m compulsively over-analytical, in the past when I have decided on a course of action, I am usually convinced it is the correct and only path.

Throughout my undergrad, I realized that overly defining every single aspect of my goals were a hindrance to my success. It made it difficult to adapt to unanticipated situations, it made me upset and disenchanted when I was faced with an obstacle, and essentially through the process of focusing on “what I wanted”, I missed out on numerous other opportunities that I failed to ever consider.

So I guess the metaphor I’m getting at is that when the boat is precisely navigated to stay on route, it is extremely difficult to deviate from the course and avoid the obstacle. Similarly, when an individual’s goals are too precisely defined to a specific path, it is difficult to adapt when issues arise and goal attainment becomes difficult. Now, I am not trying to advocate for simplified goal setting or ill-defined goals; instead, I am merely offering an alternative opinion implying that when setting goals, you need to leave room for adjustments and unexpected variables.


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