As I write this, I’m sat in a coffee shop I’ve never been to before. It’s really not very far from my flat at all; my gym is only two minutes up the road, and I walk there almost every day.

My theme for this year is Frontier, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting one. Let me tell you what it means.

When I choose my themes, I usually choose my word first, and let meaning follow. Frontier felt right; in my experience, that’s good enough. Meaning will find you. Here are the ones that have found me so far:

I - Expanding Radius

At first blush, Frontier means to be at the edge, to push into things foreign or unknown. The new coffee shop I’m sat in is a great example of this, and so is this blog post. More travel is so obvious it’s boring.

There’s something more to the concept of your personal radius though, beyond what coffee shops you frequent or what cities you’ve been to. We can say your radius is the set of actions you can perform without discovering. Discovering what? New places, new patterns, new people; anything.

Discovery is not the same as learning, in the same way that reading about Peru is not the same thing as going to Peru. You can discover by reading, but you can only learn, rather than discover, the direct contents of the book. Rather, a book can help you discover things about yourself or your life that you previously hadn’t considered: things that were outside your radius.

II - Self Sufficiency

On the Frontier, you need to provide for yourself. Pushing into the unknown requires a more conservative attitude than staying put, where you have support networks to help you if you fail.

This has an important direct meaning for me, after burning out at the end of last year to finish my latest iOS app, Thought Path (wink wink, nudge nudge). I pushed too far, and cut myself off from my support systems.

Another meaning has grown out of self sufficiency in my mind, though, where our metaphor falls down. This is the least defined of my Frontier meanings, and maybe the most important.

III - The Dance

How do you achieve success and not burn out?

There’s a certain amount of swagger to all people who can do this. These people trust in their own abilities and opinions, and are masters of the old maxim that people make their own history, but they do not make it on terms of their choosing. They can cultivate their environment to match their desires just as easily as they modify their desires to meet the demands of the world around them.

This dance, of pushing and pulling, of changing the world and changing yourself, seems to be the key.

Aiming straight at your long term goals is doomed to fail: you’ll burn out before you get there. Instead, you want to zig-zag: get the lay of the land; establish forward bases; never make any step you aren’t comfortable making, but always be moving in the right direction.

It can’t go unsaid that for a lot of people, perhaps even most such people, this attitude comes from a background of privilege. The environment may be unfavourable to you; regardless, you must cultivate the confidence to change it, ever so slightly, to be more favourable.

That’s the dance of life.

Future posts to this blog will probably be less about me, and more my takes on things out in the world. (Hey, that’s on-theme!) This was just to test the RSS feed - and to say hi :)

Which reminds me, you can subscribe to all future posts with RSS!