On planning

Don’t delude yourself into thinking you have it all figured out. And don’t tire yourself trying to figure it all out. You can’t know every possibility, and if you have the entirety of your life mapped out now, either you have too small a vision, or you are omniscient. If you’re omniscient, then hey, do your thing. But I suspect you’re not, and you need adaptability. When a new opportunity comes to your door, you need to be able to take it and run. When a novel but mediocre chance comes to your door, you need to be able to not take it and run. You’re wasting your time if you stand alongside your life hoping that nothing goes wrong and nothing brings you off the current path. Something will, so be prepared for it. Wherever you go, take with you an excellent work ethic and the ability to learn quickly. You won’t need a plan.*

*In Mikhail Tal’s book (Tal-Botvinnik 1960) about the 1960 world chess championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik, he says the following: It is interesting that black spent fifteen minutes thinking about the move that immediately followed his piece sacrifice. Was there a miscalculation? Did he have misgivings? Neither. This is but a confirmation, if it can be expressed this way, of an intuitive sacrifice, a confirmation of the fact that Black did not calculate all of the variations beginning with the sacrifice and ending with mate.” This is Tal’s commentary of game 6 of the 1960 match between himself and Botvinnik where he made some dramatic sacrifices to win the game. As he says, though, it’s not that he saw five moves ahead all the time; sometimes you don’t need to know the entire plan.