The Long and Winded Road v2

A little less than you wanted

Posted in Life, Musings by enochlau on 5 April, 2009

I live a life of compromise.

Hah. How’s that for controversial post openings? If there’s one thing that I’ve been able to remember from my 4 years studying engineering in university (the rest is, well, completely useless) is that life is just a series of tradeoffs and compromises: more efficiency, but more cost; more reliability, less speed; better performance, more time lost to practice. 

In an ideal world, you’ve have you cake, eat it too, and sell the rest at a profit. Sadly, we seldom face decisions where each option is mutually exclusive. Making a decision almost always involves choosing something at the expense of something else.

So really, the question is not whether there is compromise in our lives but whether the gains we get in our daily choices are worth the compromise.

One thing that I always find a poor tradeoff is preparation time. Often in work, and sometimes in other activities I’m involved in, I find it so easy to excuse skipping time spent preparing myself for something — whether it is a presentation or a performance — so that I have the time to run after more ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ matters, then get an average result as expected. Maybe a ‘good’ one on a ‘good’ day. 

Each time I do, though, I feel like I lose a small battle in the pursuit of excellence. That little vague feeling where you feel like something’s died in you, and you’ve lost a little of the shine that you used to have.

Every time I procrastinate and end up using a pre-built series of wordy, boring Powerpoint slides when I have a presentation to do (as opposed to all that I’ve learned about presentation design and delivery). Every time I play in church or a performance not having had a proper practice or preparation time. Every time I wing it when speaking in public.

In times like these, just good enough… isn’t good enough at all. Once I settle for just getting by, I suck. I find myself sucking more and more nowadays, and I’m still trying to take careful stock of what is worth giving myself to and what isn’t, because it seems like I’m losing the ability to tell. It took a friend (well, actually a few of them) to point things out about the importance of preparation that got me thinking about what I’ve started to take for granted.

Personal goal: less compromise, less suck.