I have a confession to make:
I’ve fucked up.
Really, you say? That’s it? Do you know how many people fuck up every day and still go on with their lives? That’s what I would have said to someone.
The truth is, I have done the same. I fucked up, moved on. Fucked up, moved on. Never allowed myself the time to reflect, think, evaluate and understand. By doing that I have accumulated a lot of regret in the back of my mind.
Could I’ve done this differently?
Did I have to eat that hamburger?
Was I supposed to clean up?
Should I kiss that girl or not?
The little things. Everyday mistakes we make constantly and over and over again. But those are fine. When I say I fucked up, I mean really fucked up.
I’ve dropped out of the university for a dumb quarrel with a professor.
I’ve screwed up my first executive position by not being careful about legal and tax-related issues.
I’ve started a company and pumped a lot of cash into it without a plan or structure in mind.
I was not a good friend, boyfriend, son, brother or grandson.
I didn’t speak up my mind and cared for my ideas and thoughts.
As you can see, I have a fair amount of regrets. Things I could have done differently, better, smarter, wiser. I ended up hurting and discarding people I cared about and sometimes they discarded me for the same reason. Not thinking about what I’ve said or done.
Even now, as I’m rambling on my keyboard, I think of all, even the tiniest of mistakes I made. But I realize one thing. The future I want to build for myself can’t be built on the foundations of regrets and constant living in the past.
My issue was that I never faced those regrets and drawn up lessons from them. I avoided them, allowed them to pile up and to pressure me into becoming a negative, self-loathing, boring being. At least that’s how I used to see myself when alone and thinking.
Meditation and calmness helped me a lot. I took some time off, isolated myself from the world and spent it writing, thinking, talking to Me. I’ve come up with a conclusion. If I didn’t make all those mistakes, I couldn’t learn anything. It would be impossible to grow. At the moment I was not aware that I’m doing something wrong and I couldn’t have done it differently.
And, you know what? Everyone messes up. Everyone. It is a perfectly normal thing. Most humane of experiences. Fail and pick yourself up.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from my regrets.
Know your limitations and don’t stretch yourself outside your growth zone.
Expanding one's own mind and making small but constant progress is the best thing ever. There is a famous theory of zones, you can read more about here.
In short, the comfort zone is usually where you are now, safe and in control. When growing you enter the fear zone first. This is where you question things, respond to other people opinions, but then you progress to learning zone. This is where you learn new things and enter the growth zone where you live out your dreams.
Ideally, the process now repeats itself. You set new goals and you grow again. But sometimes, you cross over the thin line at the end of the growth zone. This happens when you feel overconfident and you take on way above your level. Think high school students figure out some equations and joins NASA the next day. Oversimplified yes, but proving a point.
When you do grow and acquire new skills and confidence, there is a slight danger of thinking too highly of yourself. This is when you bullshit your way into something way over your level and then you fuck up. Avoid this.
Learning and growth happen when you take on new challenges but be careful not to screw over yourself. There are things you simply cannot do now. And that is fine. Identify them, figure out do you really want to do them, figure out your steps and go for it. But don’t jump over more than three stairs at once. You may smash your head on the concrete.
Speak your mind, be clear about things and avoid bullshitting.
One of the things that I’m trying to incorporate in my life is to be clear and direct. Precision is what we need in this bullshit oversaturated world.
This is the main reason why I picked up writing as a hobby. It helps me to clear out the clutter in my own ideas and thoughts so I can share my ideas in a better, more coherent and sensible way.
Every day you are bombarded with thousands of information, ideas and thoughts. Around 98% of that is clearly bullshit. I have nothing against selling yourself and making things sound better than they are if the place and time are right. Trust me, I’m a marketer, I make things look better for living.
It is a slippery slope and it’s easy to fall into bullshitting everything. Be clear with yourself. Be clear with people closest to you. Admit your mistakes and doubts. Make them clear and visible. People who genuinely like you see through your facade and want to help you become stronger and better. You do want to become stronger and better. Trust yourself, trust people who like you.
If you are wrong, you are wrong.
There is a slightly victorious feeling when you can prove you are right. When you can put out an argument, prove your theory and say to everyone to shut their mouth. Yes, you are allowed to be a bit douchy here. It is your win after all.
Or you can be an idiot who keeps on blabbing how right he is. The choice is totally up to you.
Yet only one thing leads to actual growth. Admitting you can be wrong and that is okay. Ideally, you’ll get an answer and figure things out. At worst, you’ll keep on pondering but now you will set out to find why you are wrong and how to make things right.
And that, my friend, is even more of a win.
Spend your money, time and energy wisely.
I don’t think this is something that needs a lot of explanation. Time is the only thing you don’t have in abundance. It passes with every moment. It is the most valuable thing you own. Your energy drives you and gives you a push to make it through the day. Money is something you buy stuff and food with, duh.
Think this way. By clearing out the clutter out of your schedule, room and life, you’ll have more time. More time to spend on things that provide real value such as learning new skills, personal growth, that passion project you always wanted to start. This, in turn, leads to better energy levels and more motivation to face each day. Lastly, you’ll end up with more money and value.
I’ve made a habit to track and evaluate my spending to control a very bad habit of wasting money. I don’t want to become a scrooge but I do believe money should and can be spent only on things that bring actual value in return.
Same with people. I’ve removed people I don’t want around. It left with a bit of a loneliness sensation because, it turns out, most of the people I enjoy spending time with don’t live in the same city as I do. But hey, I can save up and see them more often. They bring me positive energy, help me rest and grow as a person.
Reflect but with a positive outlook.
In all honesty, I hate over positive people, even more than I hate irrational haters. Both of these kinds of people have something in common. They don’t get the whole picture.
I consider myself a realist. Someone who can look at things from all angles and actively ponder the right way forward. Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes I win.
Even this article is one way of putting this way of thinking into practice. I stopped asking myself what have I done wrong. Instead, I ask: How can I learn and grow out of this? How can this affect my life in a positive way? How can I use this to become a better person?” You can do this while meditating, journaling, walking around. It will help you identify and take action on things you have to change or fears you have to overcome.
I am trying to follow up on these lessons. I am trying to understand messing up and why things happen the way they do. I am trying to let go of the things that are in my control.
This doesn’t mean I won’t fuck up again. I might. Maybe I will. But, this means that I know how to reflect on my mistakes. This means I can make them a tool to grow and expand my potential. This means I will not be crippled by regrets ever again.
This is the first moment of the rest of my life. This is the foundation of a person I am going to become. I am now growing into a person who can give back. I am growing into a person who can help someone clear their thinking and avoid my failures. I accept my flaws and wear them with dignity.