I have several mental models I use to generally keep moving in a desirable direction, despite (and sometimes fueled by) the vicissitudes of reality.
One such model is imagining myself as a spring that coils and uncoils, compresses slowly before rapidly expanding outward, taking my time to collect energy, sometimes moving in what might feel in the moment like the wrong direction but which ultimately proves to be preparation for some subsequent expansion or growth.
Another is perceiving everything as being connected.
Not in a spiritual or religious sense, but in the sense that everything that happens can be contextualized so that its connections to all other things are more evident.
Through this lens, I can choose how to yoke what I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, what I’m feeling or suffering or enjoying to all the other things I might feel or suffer or enjoy, and this sense of interconnectivity can sometimes reveal novel, helpful, reaffirming, perspective-shifting ways of thinking about my life.
There’s another model I sometimes use that’s based on an Ancient Greek concept, kairos, which—according to some interpretations, at least—refers to the opportune moment for things.
I personally think about kairos as a sort of acceptance of tides and time.
You can go surfing any time of day, but there are moments in which the variables at play make surfing-optimal conditions more likely.
Sometimes the weather will be better, sometimes the tides will be just right, sometimes there will be too many or too few people staking out claims on the beach or in the water, sometimes there will be algae or sharks or too many (or too few) seagulls.
Conditions will vary, and being able to assess the variables that induce the right or wrong conditions can help us determine the optimal moment to act, all things considered, more of the time.
We won’t ever be able to perceive all the variables shaping a given environment, nor will there likely ever be a perfect time to do anything we want to do.
But we can develop a general sense of the tides, test the wind with a finger, and adjust our rhythms so they better line up with the variables we can perceive and understand.
From my perspective, at least, deciding to work with the ebbs and flows of these forces rather than fighting against them (most of the time, anyway) is the important choice, here.
Beyond that decision, it’s mostly a matter of making iterative adjustments to our understanding and application over time so we can act at what seems to be the proper moment (for our specific intentions and priorities, and the space in which we’re operating) more often.