Begin with the end in mind

Why is the most fundamental question. If you don’t know why, no other question will make sense.

Before I start any non-trivial task or project, I like to be clear about why I’m doing it. And if the project takes more than a few days, it’s worth revisiting that question now and again. If I’ve become stuck, reviewing the why often offers a way forward. If I feel reluctant to work on it, reminding myself of the why gives me either incentive to continue, or if the why is no longer relevant, a good reason to drop the project.

The “why” of this specific post, incidentally, is that it has been bouncing in the back of my brain for about a week now, and I want it out of there.

So, why do I write this blog? Three reasons.

Writing helps me think.

I like to think. I like to understand myself and the world around me. Someone once said to me, “Du är en sån som tänker hela tiden” – “You’re the kind of person who’s thinking all the time”. The tone wasn’t complimentary, but that comment has quite a bit of truth in it.

One of the problems with thinking is that the mind is like a little monkey, easily distracted: dangle a shiny object in front of it, and it abandons whatever it was doing, and plays with the shiny toy instead. Thinking without writing is hard, because there’s nothing to keep me on topic. Writing offers me an anchor – when the distraction disappears, I turn back to the screen and resume from where I was, instead of having to start all over.

Putting thoughts in writing also makes them clearer. The need to put things in words forces me to organise jumbled thoughts, clarify vague ones, and look up missing facts. Sometimes this exposes large gaps in my thoughts; other times it makes me think of new connections between what initially looked like separate ideas.

Finally, writing finalises thoughts. As long as thoughts exist only in my head, they remain “alive”. I am never quite “done” with them. Writing them down gives them a permanent place, which means that I no longer need to worry about forgetting them. And it’s easy to see when a thread of thought is complete, when it has been followed from a beginning to an end, and a conclusion has been reached.

This blog is a way to keep in touch with people.

Many events in life fall in that vague range where they’re interesting, but not that interesting. I wouldn’t send all my friends an e-mail to tell them about the fireworks I saw, or what I thought about the news about Sony. But I imagine that some of this might be interesting to some of you. A blog feels like a good compromise: not too much, not too little.

The blog is a letter to myself in the future.

Memories fade, and recede to the background. (Mine do, at least.) I’d like to keep some of them for longer, and to find them more easily. I’m sure that there are many good moments in my past that it would be nice to revisit occasionally, but there’s nothing to prompt me to remember them, so they stay in long-term storage.

This blog is like an album of holiday photos: some time in the future, I can browse through the posts and think “Oh yeah, we had that wonderful holiday in Africa!” and that would then bring back the rest of the memories. But instead of just remembering the big events, I’m hoping that the blog will help me keep some of the everyday things too. So that I can be reminded later about what it was like to live now, and what I was doing with my life.

The three reasons are somewhat contradictory, but I hope that I can get the balance right so that the blog does all three. I try to alternate between them so that none of the three dominates or gets neglected for a long time. We’ll see how it work out in the long run.