Back in the mid to late 90s, I went through a period where I was obsessed with the SIMS games. I was enamored of being able to build and create and then sit back and watch my creation live. Basically, it was like introducing Dr. Frankenstein to my childhood legos.
My first few attempts at computer-based world domination weren’t too successful. You see, I would get too excited about building the cool stuff – the big houses, the parks, the casinos and I would neglect to pay the same sort of attention to the boring infrastructure – the roads, utilities, the water treatment plants. The cities would look amazing and would run beautifully for a time.
But then the lack of underlying support would inevitably catch up and everything would start to fall apart.
So I would jump into action, scrambling to build roads to ease the traffic and make enough water and power available to my citizens. Yet, no matter how quickly I worked, those panicked attempts always failed. It was like trying to frame a house after the roof had already been put on.
So I changed my approach. At the start of a new game, I began to focus first on the underlying needs. I built roads that seemingly went nowhere. I carefully planned the conduits for water and power. I prioritized hospital and fire station locations.
Those cities had a slower start-up than my earlier attempts; in fact, they were somewhat boring at the beginning. But soon, as I started to layer the more elaborate elements atop the carefully laid scaffolding, they would bloom into amazing worlds. And, unlike the first attempts, these worlds would last.
As I watch relationships form, collapse and build around me, I often think back to those SIMS days. You can start a relationship without the infrastructure of emotional stability and well-being in place, but like my early cities, collapse is inevitable. Take the time to build yourself before you layer on a relationship. It may not be as exciting, but the after-effects are worth it.