I’m becoming increasingly convinced that time is mostly arbitrary. Nonetheless, there is value in marking off the milestones.
Here are six things I’ve learned so far…
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1. It is better to do one really great thing than to do five pretty good things.
If I want to write an essay, paint a picture, or compose a song just so that I can say I’ve done so, that is fine.
If, however, I wish to write an essay, paint a picture, or compose a song so that my essay, picture, or song will make a real and lasting impact upon the world, that is another thing entirely.
The world has no shortage of essays, pictures, and songs. Some are good while others are less so.
But how often do we encounter one that is truly great? How often do we come across one that remains with us, inspires us, perhaps even haunts us long into the future?
To bring such things into existence is a worthwhile endeavor; but it takes commitment, dedication, and no less than the whole of our attention.
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2. I can only be myself.
When I talk in person or on the phone, I don’t speak in exclamation points.
I thoroughly enjoy my life and get excited by most every part of it. But I don’t express it by way of a huge grin or by LOL’ing every other minute.
It’s not that I chose not to; it just doesn’t come naturally.
So while it’s true that people are more likely to click on a link if I tell them it’s the BEST THING EVER!!! OMG! I can’t even BELIEVE it!!!, doing so would ultimately be disingenuous.
Similarly, if I ever before doubted it, I now know that I am not a salesman.
I’m good at creating things which other people might want to buy, and I would very much like other people to buy them.
But the moment I step over to the ring the register, I become someone else. Someone not me.
I’ve come to realize that there has to be another way, and I am determined to find it, however long it takes.
For I can only be myself.
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3. The only risks I’ll ever regret are the ones I never took.
By most people’s standards, these past six months could hardly be considered successful. They haven’t put bread on any tables. They haven’t beefed up any resumes or landed any jobs.
Some, I’m sure, would even go so far as to call them an outright failure.
I won’t deny that I have regrets. But I assure you, they have nothing to do with the leaps I’ve taken, and certainly don’t involve the many times I have fallen.
It’s true that there have been more beaten paths and detours than interstates and highways.
If ever there was a road map, I’ve misplaced it more often than I’ve found it.
But I know that it is better to have sought and not yet found than to have abandoned— or, worse, to have never even attempted— the seeking.
No, all I’ve ever regretted are the times when my fear of the risk was greater than my longing for the reward.
I can think of no more than a few; yet they are the only pieces of my past that will ever be able to haunt me.
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(Read Part II here.)