Motivation Monday: Tree Branches of Choice

A tree is a good way to represent a series of decisions.  Start at the trunk and move to smaller and smaller branches, each branch tip representing one o the many possibilities.  A tree representing a persons life would be immense, far larger than any tree on Earth.  There are an incredible number of possibilities that arise due to a persons choices, and every waking moment we move along a path.  But there is one stark difference between this tree and a real tree.  With the decision tree, you can cross back over to other paths.

I started thinking about this years ago when I was trying to figure out my own path in life.  Like a lot of people out there, I love exploring many different things, trying different foods, learning skills, experimenting, learning, working, and growing as much as I can.  Sadly a day only has 24 hours, a third of which is spent asleep.  So when I want to do something new or something I really enjoy, it can be tough to decide what to drop to accommodate it.  It’s like being on that decision tree and constantly hopping between a few branches as you go.

But the problem with hopping between a few branches is that you never go as far along each one.  You’ll move forward on each one, but only a little bit.  A question I’ve asked myself many times is “Is it better to focus on one thing and do very well, or focus on a lot of things and become adept?”

It’s ‘Jack of all trades, but a master of none’ vs. ‘An inch wide and a mile deep.’  But like a true lover of life and experience, I want to be both.  I want to dabble in a few things, while also getting really good at one thing.  These ideas are generally at odds, but what if there’s an in-between?

A thought I had about it recently was this: To do the thing you really like, you have to give up a bunch of things you kinda like.

The more I think about it, the more I think it’s not true.  I think there is an in-between along the everything or one thing spectrum. I think you can centralize your focus on that one thing you truly enjoy, but bring in elements of the things you ‘kinda like’ and incorporate them into what you actually end up doing.

Inevitably if you fully explore that one thing you truly love doing, you’ll start to add in things you like.  For example, I love astronomy, but I enjoy photography, writing, and performing.  For this reason, a part time hobby of mine has become astrophotography, I write this blog (often as I can) which generally focusses on astronomy, and I perform planetarium shows.  In the past, I’ve tried other types of photography, I’ve tried writing different content, and I’ve performed other science.  I enjoy all of these things, but they aren’t my passion.  I can do that thing I love, digging deep on it, while still bringing in other things tangentially, scratching the ‘do-everything’ itch.

Maybe the answer is that you don’t have to choose one thing, or one branch for that matter.  Maybe the hopping from branch to branch can be hopping from twig to twig on one branch that extends a long way.  Perhaps I made the choice of what I want to do a long time ago, and now all I’ve been trying to figure out is how best to do that thing.

No matter what, it’s always good to check in and see where you are.  Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve strayed from your path until you’ve gone a long way off.

20 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: Tree Branches of Choice

  1. A very good analogy using the branches of a tree as the choices we have in life. And of course the results
    of our life boils down to the choices we make. Good post.

  2. Interesting take! I never really thought of comparing it to life but it makes sense.

  3. Like this metaphor. Never thought that you could use this to make comparisons in everyday life.

  4. It reminded me of this quote: “I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color, but my roots are the same.”

  5. This is a beautiful sentiment and I couldn’t agree more. Love the tree comparison.. and I’ve often felt like a jack of all trades, master of none.. but have recently started to focus more on the few things that I’m most passionate about, and naturally some of the other interests have fallen aside. But it gives me more fulfillment when I know I can really crush at something I’m good at.

    1. Great realization! You’ve got this! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Like just like nature, we need balance in our lives. Thanks for this post!

  7. Beautiful! This is just what I needed to read today. Thanks!

  8. “To do the thing you really like, you have to give up a bunch of things you kinda like.” Very well put.

  9. Very motivational! I’ve got a couple of friends who’d love this.

  10. I appreciate this content! Please post more tips about this.

  11. I run a tree care company, and there is so much we can learn from nature every day. Very inspired post.

  12. I like how you gave a personal example with your hobbies and passions. It makes the whole concept even easier to relate to.

  13. I love this, it’s basically asking how to condense time into a smaller pocket of time. How can we fit in more in less time. I’ve thought about that as well, and the one answer I always think of is being very focused with what you’re doing. When i am not focused, I tend to get very little done, yet the time still passes. Thanks for raising the topic.

  14. I must give it to you sir, this is one fine article you got here !
    Keep up the good work !

  15. Great post! Keep it up you guys!

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