The Reserve Clause

A reserve clause is basically: your intentions + actions + things/obstacles that are beyond your control.

Stoicism teaches you to distinguish between your will and the factors beyond your control. Could this be applied to your life right now? I’d say, absolutely! Think about this:

  1. You do the very best to succeed
  2. Accept that you never have any control or influence over the ultimate outcome

What does that do to you?

For me, it does two things:

  1. Frees me up to take a risk… in fact, be more confident in the face of utmost uncertainty
  2. Ensures that I give my best shot by focusing on the process instead of the outcome, which allows me to live in the moment

Here’s an excerpt from Donald Robertson’s outstanding book, “The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.”

“Cicero uses this analogy of the archer shooting an arrow at a target. His ultimate wish is to hit the target, but he can only do everything within his power to shoot his arrow straight, and so shooting straight, as opposed to actually hitting the target, must be his primary concern, and so it is with life in general. Nowadays we say, ‘All that anyone can ask is that you try your best.’ Marcus Aurelius writes, ‘Thanks to action ‘with a reserve clause’… there can be no obstacle to my intention.”

What’s the point? Pick the target and do your best to shoot straight. Hitting the target is not in your control.

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