Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a great essay establishing goals in life and working toward them called “El Dorado” in 1888. Here are two quotes–one from the opening paragraph and one from the closing–that give you a flavor for the essay (emphasis added):
We live in an ascending scale when we live happily, one thing leading to another in an endless series. There is always a new horizon for onward-looking men, and although we dwell on a small planet, immersed in petty business and not enduring beyond a brief period of years, we are so constituted that our hopes are inaccessible, like stars, and the term of hoping is prolonged until the term of life. To be truly happy is a question of how we begin and not of how we end, of what we want and not of what we have.
Soon, soon, it seems to you, you must come forth on some conspicuous hilltop, and but a little way further, against the setting sun, descry the spires of El Dorado. Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.
My plan for 2011 is to travel hopefully. Accelerating change in both technology and business models is creating many new opportunities as it obsoletes many others. There is always value in appreciating the risk in a situation but too much focus on the loss of what has been obsoleted can obscure emerging possibilities.
For 2011 I am renewing my commitment to counting my blessings and redoubling my efforts to spot emerging trends and the opportunities that they will create.
Stevenson’s “El Dorado” is in Chapter 6 of his “Virgnibus Puerisque” essay collection and also available stand-alone at http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/8384/