Each day is a small lifetime. Live a good life today.
— James Clear
Reflecting on the last two years, I couldn’t help but sit without deep regret that things haven’t gone as I hoped or happened sooner.
For most of those years I wanted things to go faster. I always had a clear sense of what I was interested in, coupled with my desire for idealism and intensity. But I wanted my five-year horizon to arrive in two years. I became impatient for progress. Impatient, perhaps, because there was something in my present that I wanted to escape. Time passed, and my worry grew. A lot of this blog has been about how I’ve changed. But in many ways, I’ve not. I like expansiveness; I don’t like to slow down and stay still. But with this, I felt aimless, lost. From the age of 21, I wanted to fill my time with meaningful things, but yet I didn’t know how.
We can be so immersed in busyness, being with people, having things to do, that we forget what we wanted from all of this in the first place. And if we don’t leave our own bubble, we can let years pass without even noticing.
Not wanting to slow down inadvertently led to just that. Mistakes. What became a pattern due to a lack of fixation on my why and how was why I spent such a long time confused and unappreciative of all the progress I made in the background.
I went on a long evening walk with two friends recently. We did the usual of looking back at the year and pinpointing everything we could tick off as achieved and what was unfinished. I struggled to love anything but was fixated on my mistakes without channelling that energy into the action required to make it happen on those days I considered “useless”. But the funny thing is those useless days will add up to something. The awful jobs you do. The hours writing away. The long, undirected walks. The hours reading books and collections that have you wondering if what you’re doing even matters. This is what makes up your becoming.
Here’s something I tell myself when it comes to making mistakes, that changed how I feel entirely about how I work:
Be open about your mistakes. It is one of the purest ways to grow. If Kaizen is at the core of your beliefs, do not be shy. Do not hide what you have done wrong. People who do that show their fear, whether they realise it or not. If you hide your mistakes, you won’t grow. You do not solve it internally when it is hidden—thinking otherwise is a common falsehood. As soon as you make a mistake, being open about it will help you emerge stronger.
I’ve always been relatively open about my mistakes. But understanding this belief more completely helped time feel more precious to me. In my hierarchy of life’s priorities, below my health sits growth. Woven in this is having the ability to convert open mistakes into learning opportunities, and learning to slow down in the process. Now I know that everything adds up. I keep thinking: I want to pace myself. I want to appreciate what I could’ve done better a little bit more. This inspiration comes not before I start my work, but during and after it. That is why it is sometimes a little hard to see.
I know I’m now living a life I like. And if I appreciate the time I have and the mistakes I make, I don’t feel scared about spending it focused on the details. That is where we grow. And I’ll look back and say I paid attention to everything I could, to then become everything I wanted.