Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about results and magic and how a person goes about evaluating magical work. The obvious answer is that you look at whether or not you’ve gotten the result, and certainly that is helpful, but what I’ve been realizing about results is that too often we stop short at the result itself and fail to examine the ramifications and consequences of achieving or not achieving the result. The focus is just on the result itself, but not what comes after.
I’ve observed before that one of the tendencies I see in magical workings is a tendency to treat the desired result as the end itself. What’s problematic about that approach is that the result rarely is the itself. Instead the result is typically something just another means to the actual end, but we’ve ignored the actual end to focus on the result, because on the surface the achievement of the result seems to resolve the problem. I got the result and the problem is solved…but is it?
I would argue that achieving the result doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is solved. If anything achieving a result may just hide the fact that the problem isn’t resolved, and the reason is because the achievement of the result stops short of considering the aftermath, or what I think of as the real result. So let’s map that out a little further with a practical example or two.
Let’s say you do magic to get a sum of money. Your result, on the surface, is the money. But if we dig deeper, we realize that the money isn’t the end result. The money is a means to an end, and when we don’t define that end and fully realize it, our magical workings suffer from vagueness. The reason is simple: You haven’t necessarily thought out far enough ahead what will happen once you get the money, or maybe you have an idea of what will happen, but you haven’t actually fully committed to it. I would argue that instead of doing a magical working to get the money, why not do a magical working to actually achieve the real desired end, and see what manifests to help you get there.
Our second example is doing job hunting magic. You need a job…will any job do? Not necessarily. The question you have to ask is how this job will impact your overall lifestyle, not just in terms of how much money you make or what you’ll be able to spend that money on, but also your overall life quality, how much time you have and how this job impacts the rest of your life. These are holistic considerations that aren’t typically mapped out or explicitly explored.
To answer that question, I’m going to share an experience from a couple years ago. I had to look for work after my business imploded and I did some job magic at the time to find work. I wanted a job as a technical writer, because I know how to do technical writing and it pays decently. I figured it could help me get out of debt faster. So I put myself out there. But I couldn’t land a job as a technical writer. While I had the writing skills, what I didn’t have were the skills with Madcap Flare or with programming languages, which has become an increasing part of the tech writer skill set. I looked into learning some of those skills, but also came up against another barrier: lack of experience. Each job I interviewed at wanted years of experience using those skills. During this process though I got a job as a customer support analyst, basically solving customer’s problems with software.
I kept looking for tech writing jobs for a while after I got the analyst position, but eventually realized that the lack of experience and fact I’d been out of the field for so long worked against me. But I also had another realization: If I had gotten the tech writing job it would have sucked away all the creativity for my own writing. I’ve never liked writing for other people’s projects for that very reason. The customer support analyst position, in contrast, has allowed me to preserve my creativity, because I’m not writing for other people. I’ve been far more creative than ever before because the job I work at doesn’t take away any of my creative efforts.
I originally did job magic to find a specific job. I didn’t get that job, ergo I didn’t get the result, but if I had gotten it I would have been miserable and unhappy because I would be expending my creative energy on writing for other people, instead of focusing on my own writing. I had only focused on the result of getting the job, instead of holistically examining the ripples that would occur if I’d gotten the job. It’s only in hindsight that I’ve realized the ramifications of achieving that result and why that wouldn’t have been beneficial for me, because I likely wouldn’t be writing as much or be as creative as I have been.
It’s that myopic focus on the result as an end in and of itself that can creates problems with the magic process, because when we fail to plan out what happens after we get the result, then we haven’t fully considered what we’re actually trying to achieve. The result is just the beginning of the journey, and if we realize that it can make us into better magicians.
I started changing my evaluation of my magical work, after I had this realization. Instead of asking myself if I was getting the result, I asked myself how the result would impact my life, and whether that impact would be worth the realization of that result. Then I looked at results I had achieved and looked at the impact on my life with those results. All results have impacts, and if we aren’t prepared for those impacts then we haven’t fully considered the result itself. We’ve treated it as an end, instead of recognizing it’s just a means to an end…and that end is what we are really shooting for, even if we don’t recognize it at the time.
By taking such an approach in your own practice, and really examining what the result will actually get you, It will help you evaluate the success of your working. It’s not enough to get the result, if what ripples from it doesn’t align with what you wanted to accomplish, but we have to own the ripples, recognize them and fully map out just what it is we’re getting when we get a result, because a result is never an end in and of itself…it’s just the first step of your journey.