Impossible vs Improbable vs Hard

I don’t like to call anything impossible. Why? Because I don’t think it’s a meaningful word. People set up limits as to what they can and can’t do all the time with this word: that’s impossible! But most things aren’t impossible. Sure, some things are just a priori unattainable (you can’t be in two distant places at once, you can’t violate fundamental laws of physics, etc.), but many achievements we’ve labeled ‘impossible’ have later been made into playthings by scientists and innovators. Every time I get on a plane, I have to marvel at the fact that the combined weight of this giant metal tube — its cargo, passengers, and fuel included — is not quite a MILLION pounds. And it flies. If you ask me, that sounds like a load of impossible. I’m not saying flight is magic, I understand the physics behind it. But if you’ve never seen an airplane or any of the technology that goes into it, and I say ‘I can make a MILLION pounds fly’? You can bet that claim is met with skepticism. And maybe rightfully so. If it isn’t a part of your daily society, that’s impossible.

Obviously, some things just can’t be done. But those aren’t the sorts of things we call impossible. Those things we assume are impossible, and don’t even consider them. The things we call impossible, they’re hard. We tell ourselves “I could never run a marathon, that’s impossible” or “I could never write 100k words in a month, that’s impossible“.

The word impossible isn’t used to gauge the difficulty of something, but to stop us from feeling bad for not trying or hardest, or not even trying at all.

Recently, I got a job offer that’s going to eat up about half of my time. And my first thought was “great, now everything I wanted to do is going to be impossible“, as if it had been possible before, and I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It was possible before, I just hadn’t done it yet because I hadn’t put 100% to it.

Now, I’m not talking about things that are unlikely. Some things, you should think of as impossible. Winning the lottery, or cleaning out a casino without a really good plan? So improbable as to be impossible. Those aren’t goals, they’re wishes; there’s nothing you can do to make them more likely. A good goal needs to be sufficiently hard that you have to try — really try — to achieve it. A good goal needs to be discrete and specific, so that you can’t just say “well, that’s good enough” or not know if you’ve achieved it or not.

With that in mind, I’ve decide to set a list of “impossible” goals to accomplish. There is no time limit on these, but they are not wishes, they are goals. Maybe some of these won’t be accomplished, but if they aren’t, I want to be be able to say “I realized I didn’t want that”, and that means having accomplished something else instead. Because sometimes, you can have too many goals, and it’s important to focus on one or two.

Writing

Write 1000 words every day

  • For a month
  • For a year

Write 100000 words in a month

Write 1000000 words in a year

The Steam Wars

  • Finish writing and editing the next chapter
  • Finish 1 chapter per month for 6 consecutive months
  • Finish book 1
  • Finish the series

Chance Pendleton

  • Finish trio of short stories

Gaming

League of Legends

Solo Queue

  • Reach Diamond – Completed 9/31/13
  • Reach Diamond I
  • Make a montage video of my plays
  • Reach Challenger Tier

Arranged 5s

  • Reach Diamond
  • Reach Diamond I
  • Make a montage video of our plays
  • Reach Challenger Tier
  • Compete in the LCS
  • Win an LCS split
  • Win a World Championship

Quit League of Legends forever

Work on a game design team for a completed title.

Pitch a game idea that runs to completion.

Work in the eSports industry as:

  • Shoutcaster
  • Journalist
  • Analyst
  • Coach
  • Manager

Fitness

Learn an acrobatic art and make a video-taped performance I feel comfortable putting on the internet

  • Parkour
  • Aerial Silks
  • Something else?

Pushups

  • 100
  • 50 one-armed
  • Re-enact this video with better music

Pullups

  • 50
  • 25 one-armed

Run 5 miles for the first time since college.

Dunk a basketball

Learn

Languages

  • Finnish
  • Swedish
  • Esperanto
  • Klingon
  • Korean

Lindy Hop

Money

Pay off my Student Loans

Publish a short story

Publish a book

Publicize Fistful of Wits

100 Subscribers

1000 Subscribers

10000 Subscribers

500 Views in a day

5000 Views in a day

50000 Views in a day

Make a living from my computer/online.

Fun

Make a lip-sync music video with friends

Canadian, Please

DotA

Be part of a flash-mob

So what do you think? What are some “impossible” things that you are going to accomplish?

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