Milestones often trigger reflection. At least for me. I don’t know if I can call today a milestone. Perhaps it is more like the inevitable we all can’t and never will escape. Sounds gloomy, right? Not really. To put it modestly, we all advance in years. Our responses to experiences in the past, are our reality today. I’ve said it before, thinking about the rest of my life doesn’t freak me out. But, here is another year, and I think on the rest of my life, again.
I have new thoughts; perhaps better clarity on the rest of my life. I’m crystal clear on some things and, at the same time my vision is nothing short of cloudy. I’m sure I’m not the only one plagued with thoughts of living significant life. I don’t think I struggle with the meaning of life more than living a significant one.
Some things I’m clearer about:
The Long Game
One of the things that used to freak me out was that I hadn’t achieved some things. I don’t know why I put the amount of pressure I did in some earlier years. From time’s vantage, I acknowledge my folly. It is practically impossible to have accomplished some of my dreams that early in life.
There just wasn’t enough sense to think that the short life I’d lived could prepare for what I dreamt. From reading biographies, one thing is obvious — most skills and experiences are effective arsenal after being distilled in time. Enter wisdom. Time, experiences and reflection are some of the things that make us wise.
I’m not as prepared as I’d like or feel I should be. But, I am more prepared than I’ve ever been. Greg Darley once said something that stuck with me: we overestimate what we can do in a year but overestimate what we can do in ten. When I look back at the last year, I don’t feel like I’ve done much. But, when I look back a decade, it seems and feels like many life times.
The point of this is clear. Being realistic about the impact and role of time is critical. My view of life in terms of what I hope to achieve is now longer. Some of the best-selling authors, for example, did not become that ‘all of a sudden’. They put in years of practice. They worked in time as time worked on them.
The geniuses we hail were not all prodigies. Some were normal, persistent people. They kept at it, stumbled through mistakes, many failures and their hopes saved by small wins. Those previews or snippets of success, whatever that was for them, strengthened their resolve. What wins give me clues today?
Legacies are not build in an instant. Series of trials, successes, wins and losses over time are ingredients I must learn to work with. I’ve made peace with the fact that some things are only possible with time.
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It is important to have new year’s resolutions, but I’m enthralled by the idea of a ten-year-view.
At The End
I want to change the world. That is all. My life must and will count for something: a better world. A way and humanity way better than I found. Being a part of the solution to those things that plague humanity. Look, I know there’s no way I can fix the whole world; but there are some things I can do. I will do something.
Most of the regrets of people I’ve spoken to are about things they never tried. Few people regretted attempts. Most regretted never trying or giving up. If I could summarise some of the conversations I’ve had, it would be that they didn’t dare. They responded more to fear and did not let courage lead. I want to leave nothing on the field.
On The Rest Of My Life
I don’t think I ask for dream too much or big. I’m looking at the drawing board. I’m peering a little farther to the where darkness and light greet. All I want to do is live a significant life. All I want to do is change the world. That is all.
Originally published at Blessing Mpofu.