You do X.
Then, Y happens.

It’s considered a universal law.

Every effect has a cause.
Every cause has an effect.

Therefore, in theory, all you need to do –
Work backwards.

Know the effect you want.
Determine the cause of that effect.

Blissfully simple – in a few cases.

You wake up late.
You get to work late.

To get to work on time, wake up on time.
To get to work early, wake up early.

Unfortunately, most things cannot be so directly linked.

We experience numerous effects (in a day, in our lives) which are impossible to accurately attribute to a particular cause.

Even when we think we know what caused something. At best, it’s usually only an educated guess.

No matter what… We’ll never know for sure,

Which throws an unwelcome twist into the whole “working backwards” approach to getting what you want.

It’s soothing (even if inaccurate) to think we understand:

X leads to Y.

X lead to Y.

But there’s an unseen & ignored loop.

Another Y lead to the X that leads to the new Y.

In the simplistic example above:
You’re late to work.
You got up late.
Why did you get up late?*

*This answer shows the effect of the previous cause. And, points to the cause before it.
Another “Why?”

To affect the greatest amount of change, you need to avoid confusing causation with correlation. And, avoid making inaccurate links.

Here’s a personal example that shows perfectly how things can easily get confused.

Thursday I started a juice cleanse (which was to include one small meal a day.) Originally to last for 30 days.

By Friday, I decided to stop the cleanse after 4 days (which was the number of days I currently had juice for.)


Because drinking only green juice + one small meal was too hard for me. No.

I stopped because I couldn’t drink enough juice (which meant a large amount would go to waste.) And, I had no appetite. So, I wasn’t eating.

Maybe I had no appetite because of the juice? Maybe. Probably not.

A traumatic event occurred in my life on Thursday afternoon.

I was under so much stress & in so much grief, it’s unlikely I could have possibly wanted to eat anything.

By Thursday night, I felt terrible.
What did that mean?

The new cleansing regime was detoxing my body?
Or, was it the effect of the day’s gut wrenching events?
Likely the later.
But, I’ll know to what extent.

I’ve felt awful for the last 4 days.
Is that just the natural detox effect?

Again, I’ll never know because my body is still suffering from shock & extreme grief from the unexpected event & loss.

I use this example because it clearly shows:

1. From the outside (if you had no knowledge of the emotional event that occurred), each of these things would be attributed to something else. (Effects related to different causes.)

2. It’s almost always impossible to accurately distinguish cause & effect, the degree to which a cause affected an effect and/or make a clear distinction between causation & correlation.

Why couldn’t I drink enough juice?
Why did I have no appetite?
Why did I feel so terrible?

There’s assumed, educated, expectational linkage. But, nothing concrete.
I’ll never know.

As you try to put this law into use in your life, keep in mind…

In most cases, cause & effect will never be clear.
All you can do is guess.


Look for patterns while remembering a pattern alone does not necessarily point to truth.

The one absolute…
The only thing true…

It does matter what you do.





christie on Twitter
Learning obsessed. Growth focused. Wisdom seeking. Recovering perfectionist. In eternal struggle to tame obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Also blogging about self care at

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