Playing life like chess
How approaching life with a chess mindset helps focus us on achievable goals
After enjoying chess in my youth, this winter I returned to playing online with friends. The nuances of the game and geometric beauty of the positions fire my brain up.
Whoa, I sound like a chess nerd. YES.
One chess concept is called “working backwards to forwards.” Basically, you picture the achievable checkmate type based on the pieces you have (e.g. a knight and a rook). Then you work backward to the moves needed to achieve the goal. Different pieces, different type of checkmate.
What if we applied this to our lives? We all have unique constraints (e.g. work, family, pets, skills, finances, desire for particular activities). How often do we look at our available “pieces” and think, “My achievable goals are ____.”
Personal example: both Chelsea and I are hankering for long-term travel. We also have an 18 YO cat who requires frequent care, including subcutaneous fluids every other day. He’s going to live another 10 years at this rate, so we need to readjust.
Just like I can’t checkmate an opponent with only my king and a knight, I can’t currently can’t travel with Chelsea. If I beat my head against the idea of long-term travel given my pieces on the board, frustration descends. Checkmate…on me.
Instead, I reframed things. We’ve traveled a ton and we’ll do it again. I can still bikepack with friends or take solo van trips, which I always enjoy. When I’m home, my piano beckons from the living room and Bend is a fabulous place to live and recreate.
Knowing the constraints helps me eliminate “ohhh, I wish I could do ____” and narrow it down to “this is what I can accomplish now.” I’m finding that it’s quite useful.
And when I get back to Christchurch for an outdoor chess rematch, I’m gonna be ready.