So for all of my political science, political theory, and governance fans; the title of this post is from a very popular article written in 1959, by Professor Emeritus Charles Lindblom of Yale University. I had the pleasure of reading the work this week, which was one of the earliest pieces on the theory of incrementalism in policy.
Obviously, this theory brought a lot of criticism; I mean who would want to think of key decision-makers in our government not really having a “big-picture or goal”, but rather taking “baby steps” decisions when needed.
Hence, this title could also refer to decision-makers literally buried waste-deep in problems, issues, concerns, and ‘fires’ that the bright light at the end of the tunnel is nonexistent; and thus one is waddling through this deep mud, with only the thoughts of staying afloat and not stepping on any sharp objects or mines.
This sounds familiar.
I had a goal to “change things” and perhaps jump-start my career by attending university and working in Europe. However, I’m starting to think that my “goal” was really the beginning of the mud patch and now I’m not sure if I can see the bright light. I just see a lot of muckiness in each and every direction and I’m not sure which way to waddle.
Yesterday marked one month since arriving at London-Heathrow, and although I have taken a lot of baby steps, I have repeatedly questioned whether I am working efficiently or taking the right steps to secure permanent employment and housing. Or if I am effectively balancing my school and social life, because I may be falling into the same habits I had in New York.
I may have hoped to “glide through” some things, but now it seems that I am in for a long muddling; and while I hope to be strategic and insightful with each step I take, knowing me, this process will be more of an “art of spontaneous feelings” than a careful “scientific deduction of reason”. Thus, as the comic suggests, my mind and heart may be looking in separate directions, and therefore working in separate directions.
One of the pitfalls of “muddling through” that Lindblom fails to mention, is that one can easily get “stuck in a rut”. Especially, when the effort to take these baby steps seem futile and the motivation to push forward dissipates. And this is certainly not where I (or most folks) want to end up.
So, have you ever been in a stage of your life where you felt like you were muddling through day-in and day-out?
Did you get through it, how? If you’re still muddling, how are you making it through?
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