"An ideal...must be something intellectually conceived, something of which we are not unconscious....and it must carry with it that sort of outlook, uplift, and brightness that go with all intellectual facts. Secondly, there must be novelty in an ideal...Sodden routine is incompatible with ideality..." - William James
The pursuit of ideals is the central theme in every story. We pursue the ideal mate, ideal body, ideal family, ideal career goals, etc. The sustenance of every story, play, and endeavor is a certain ideal. The place we find ourselves versus where our ideal lies is the storyline of every living being.
C.G. Jung, the Swiss born psychologist once said, "Without psychic depth we can never be adequately related to the magnitude of our object." I believe that he referred to a relation that exists between our ideal and ourselves. This relation is ongoing until union with the ideal exists. It means that before our ideal becomes manifest we have to become greater than or equal to the task.
Our ideal exists in two points. First it is latent within us as a seed, potentially capable of fruition. Second it exists beyond us in the not yet manifest future. We further can conclude that an ideal is antagonistic to, as William James put it, "sodden routine." After all "sodden" or, a more common word, "habitual" routines actively stifle growth. And, by this fact we can figure that they will actively prevent us from creating or becoming our ideals.
The path to our ideals lie in novelty. Imagine a child habituated as an infant. An infant that doesn't become, an infant that stays within its own "sodden routine." The infant would be enslaved to babble cries and crawling. Novelty is embedded into our nature for a reason. That is to grow. Only by means of seeking new experience and new information is novelty alive within us. Only through this method can we be called alive and develop our ideals.
The embrace of sodden routine has all too many times led to a premature psychic death. Benjamin Franklin, once recalled, of a man who he had known of that died at the age of 25, but was not buried until the age of 75. Benjamin is referring here to dying by means of succumbing to a sodden routine that contradicts novelty.
Through novelty, the psychic depth that we develop, will breed the confidence within us to prepare and act on our ideals. Without the arduous pursuit of our ideals we simply become the spectators of our wishful thinking.