A bit like purposive drift

Paul Graham has some interesting advice for the young. He talks about how mostly when adults give advice to the young about their future, it is in terms of what their goals are. He argues that instead:
“I think the solution is to work in the other direction. Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. This is what most successful people actually do anyway.
In the graduation-speech approach, you decide where you want to be in twenty years, and then ask: what should I do now to get there? I propose instead that you don’t commit to anything in the future, but just look at the options available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterward.
It’s not so important what you work on, so long as you’re not wasting your time. Work on things that interest you and increase your options, and worry later about which you’ll take.”

Now those of you that have followed my writing for some time will recognise that I believe that Paul Graham’s advice holds for all of us young and old alike. Of course, we all have goals – I have the goal of finishing this entry – but my sense is that it is wise to keep your goals short-term rather than long-term and to be willing to change them as circumstances change. So my advice would be, look for the promising situation you can engage with now, rather than trying to identify the long-term goal that may never happen.