To be, or not to be, that is the question:William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
In his soliloquy in “Hamlet“, Act III, Scene I, Hamlet addresses the pains and sorrows of living, contemplating death and even suicide.
But if we slightly alter the context, and by “to be or not to be” we get to mean “to be or not to be someone in life”, the passage still holds. For which sea culminates more troubles than the always turbulent sea of life, and which enemy can hit you with more force and malice than Fortune?
Being awake to the world and all its sufferings, trying to overcome obstacles, propelling yourself perpetually forward towards the safe haven of success and eventually “becoming someone in life”, means to open yourself up to catastrophe, provoke calamity and indeed inherit all the vulnerabilities of the flesh.
Brace yourself, my dear, life just happens to us all.
Seen from this perspective, “to be or not to be” can then become “to do or not to do”, which in turn must always be grounded on “to have or not to have” the following.
A clear vision for the future.
That is an explicit, well-defined and lucid narrative for all your actions and aspirations – what modern culture calls “a dream”.
Your darkest desires and vile motives can do the job rather efficiently. After all, if you are to fight against society and the paralyzing inertia of human nature, you need to draw upon your most elemental powers and instincts, in order to find the strength to build the required character and habits.
Wanting something is not enough; you must desire it, will it with all your heart and spirit – or else it will sooner or later degenerate into a mere whim, a pointless caprice or even a fad.
Secondly, “to have or not to have”:
A clear set of goals.
In other words, what targets you aim at, in which order and by when. Even the most tedious or seemingly impossible task can be carried out if broken into smaller tasks or goals.
As the popular meme rightly dictates: “goals are dreams with deadlines”; and everyone knows how an upcoming dreadful deadline can motivate even the laziest sluggard into stormy action.
Unlike what most people think or believe, though, right action, although undeniably preferable, is not a necessary prerequisite.
The will to act and continue acting despite some (or rather quite many) inevitable failures is what really matters. Right action is by definition the culmination of a series of… not so right actions, the final act of which led to success – and it’s rarely if ever known from the beginning.
Finally, “to have or not to have”:
A clear strategic plan.
Or a plan for achieving those goals and milestones, i.e. an action plan, a carefully drawn roadmap, a method of implementation.
Nothing too fancy, just knowing what to do and how to do it, keeping things rolling through the day.
It may seem like a big deal, but if you have clarified the first two, it is inevitable that you will find or make a way.
At this point, it should have been obvious that clarity is of the essence. Clarity of vision leads to clarity of goals, which in turn calls for clarity of methods.
Most people choose to dwell upon the first step indefinitely – for make no mistake, it is a choice, a distasteful, most hideous choice. They keep dreaming and dreaming on and on, conjuring all possible excuses and rationalizations up for not taking the next step.
Some people put some thought on how to achieve their dreams and elaborate a set of goals, turning dreams into wishful thinking.
But without engaging into formulating and implementing a strategic plan, without actually taking action toward materializing your dream(s), nothing can be achieved.
An afterthought on futility.
Are all these really necessary? Do you have to be someone in life or you do not?
After all, choosing not to be is also a choice and often a most difficult one; and those who consciously and deliberately choose not to often live the most stressful lives of us all – or the most carefree and happy!
There is no shame to that; but shame falls upon those who linger in Limbo, growling and grumbling without end, putting the blame for their faults upon others, all these crybabies drown in their misery.
To be or not to be, live for the dream here and now, or live for a bucketlist somewhere and someday, that is the question – and it’s a question of choice: your choice.