A Journey to Personal Growth and Fulfillment
I flirted with a girl while being in a relationship.
I didn’t sleep with her. But I did something inappropriate. Does it make me a bad person?
But that’s not the point. My action was a mistake and not the only one I made. The bigger one was neglecting my relationship.
Making mistakes doesn’t make you a bad person, but repeating and denying them does.
It boils down to the fact that the biggest mistake is not accepting your mistakes. When you don’t get the desired results and constantly blame the world, you deny making mistakes.
In this article, I’ll talk about seven of mine. For years, I deluded myself I wasn’t making them. But reality proved me wrong.
I’ll present them with a short description of how I deal with them now. Your job is to stay honest and open to benefit from my experiences. If you make similar mistakes, stop running and face them.
Here we go.
1. No Self-Reflection
I repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
All my relationships ended with pain. Possibly for both sides. But I never tried to work on them. I wanted to find a better partner. A thought about becoming one never crossed my mind.
I was focused on what I didn’t have.
Now, I focus on what I have by appreciating every moment with my partner. Even the moments I don’t like, like going to a wedding or riding a bike. She makes them worth the effort. The reason I could do it is because I understood my mistakes.
That happened through self-reflection
How do you introduce reflection to your day?
The basics work best.
With a twist at the end.
If you weren’t expecting meditation here, you need to keep digging. So, start with meditation. It seems boring at first. But the ability to sit with your thoughts is priceless. All those distractions lose their grip on you.
Next is journaling. The best tool to revise your actions and correct your course. Start effortlessly with this free template
I’ll finish by getting feedback from people. Remember, the world around you is made by people. Their feedback on your actions is how the world perceives you. By no means do I recommend you to fit in. I recommend using the feedback to improve your actions.
Treat it as data that confirms or denies your ideas.
2. Comparing myself with others
It’s easy to feel worse, seeing how much people have accomplished.
Conversely, it’s easy to feel better having more than others. Both are traps if you believe them.
But you can’t get away from comparison and judgment. It’s how your brain assesses where you are in the societal structure. The problem starts when you treat the results of the comparison as final.
It’s all too easy to focus on what you don’t have when you compare to people in front of you. I did that with earnings by comparing myself to people who earned more than I did. And I felt miserable. Similarly to assuming I’m not a problem in my relationships, I didn’t think about improving. I only loathed myself.
The difference between me then and me now is I benefit from the comparison.
How to benefit from comparison?
First, compare yourself to people in a specific area that have a similar context to yours.
Leave celebrities behind.
Take a person who is three steps ahead. Don’t stop there. Find what differs, what that person does that you don’t. Tadaam, you compared yourself and got a usable outcome.
Second, compare yourself to your past self. You’re already you. You lived through the same story. The benefit is seeing the progress. It’s the only way to realize how far you’ve come.
Seeing progress keeps you afloat when everybody strives for the next shiny thing.
3. Fear of Failure
If you let fear rule, you’ll never create your life.
You’ll be stuck on a hamster wheel. And every time your fear stops you, it grows stronger. The world outside gets bigger with each new idea and opportunity. Because what you know is no longer enough to keep your wheel running. So, you slowly fall into despair.
For ten years, I thought about writing. I was afraid that no one would read my work. And almost no one wants to, but I’m ok. I didn’t die because of it. It’s even better no one cares because I can polish my skills and gradually improve. That lets me learn how to deal with all the side things required for writing, like editing, publishing, and networking.
How to thrive despite fear?
Fear is here to stay.
It’s embedded in the way I explore the world. And it works great in informing me about danger. So, I switched from hating it to loving it. Now, when I fear something, I know I’m about to face an opportunity; potentially dangerous but potentially rewarding.
Regarding a hands-down approach, I split fear into small chunks.
It’s easier to face it in parts and do it willingly. Practically, it’s about planning out the steps I’ll take.
I strive to have a rough direction and not a very detailed plan. But it’s up to you to check what you prefer.
In writing, it was about separating writing, editing, and publishing. In a relationship, it’s about taking one leap at a time, letting the experience accrue.
4. Not Setting Goals
You have two choices: set goals or not.
If you don’t, you’ll be torn between everything the world has to offer. Drugs, alcohol, traveling, money, career, watching stars, watching Netflix, reading books, writing, skiing, diving, hiking, fast cars, video games, porn, and more. None of those is bad. You can even watch porn. But trying to do everything is not you. It’s an idea of always wanting more. Do you want all these things?
You don’t want them if you wake up unwilling to get up from bed.
Something is missing. That something is a direction you chose. I know because I once was proud I was getting up at 8:55 and started work at 9. And on the weekend, I woke up even later. Any decision took me ages, and I always questioned it. I was constantly tired.
Now, I feel more energy after sleeping 6 hours than before from sleeping 9. It’s 3 years since I set goals for the first time. And I’ve accomplished all except one. But that one is in progress, too.
On the way, I understood it’s not about achieving goals. It’s about following your curiosity to explore the world. Goals are a representation of what you care about, but they enable you to see what that is.
By following a direction, you create meaning in life.
How to start setting goals
Choose goals important to you. For starters, assess areas of life with the wheel of life. The task is to give everyone a number from 1-10. Next, choose the ones where you gave the lowest number. Ask yourself how you could improve and if you’d want to.
After finding a goal, translate it to daily actions.
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there.
This year, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.James Clear, Atomic Habits
For more about setting goals and having a direction, read here.
5. Lack of Discipline
If you experience pain from always missing your goals, this one is for you.
I had plenty of dreams that stayed dreams.
Because I never worked on them. And when I miraculously did, I was done after one or two tries. I knew I had to do the work, but I never did. I never followed to the finish line.
When something was interesting, I relied on motivation.
I wanted something, and before I got it, there was another idea on my mind. I was all over the place, without a vision for the future.
But then everything changed.
A bit of discipline let me quit drinking. From there, I used it for everything.
Now, I write, code, and learn every day. What’s more, I built the best relationship I was ever in. And that’s discipline talking.
How do you discipline yourself?
Start with building habits.
But instead of building random habits, try finding ones that serve your purpose. Tie them to your goals. Go from goals to daily habits.
And always start small.
When you have no discipline, everything will be hard. Give yourself a chance, and take it easy. Scale up with time. I build my reading habit by reading a minimum of one page a day. I stayed sober by taking it one day at a time. Get going, and later use the momentum.
I always did everything last minute.
That’s fine if you’re in primary school. Projects are not that complicated. You can finish them in a day. But later, it gets harder. And the worst thing is constant stress.
I knew I had to work.
I simply did everything to avoid working. At university, it resulted in cramming things instead of understanding them. But that was related to a topic that I found interesting. When I didn’t care about something, I didn’t lift a finger.
Now I do what I must do to get what I want.
As easy as that. When the time comes, I’m ready. Waiting never gives me anything except excessive anxiety.
How do you deal with procrastination?
I used to procrastinate on hard topics.
So, I make them easier.
My favorite example is running. I don’t like running. But I love listening to podcasts. You guessed it, I run while listening to podcasts.
To make it even easier, I bought a treadmill. Because going outside was too much for me. Now, I don’t have that excuse.
I also divided the task into small pieces to complete an easy start. There is this idea of Kaizen, of small improvements implemented regularly. Then James Clear mentioned it in The 2 Minute Rule. When you start, go for 2 minutes. Starting is harder than continuing.
The last piece of the puzzle is choosing the right goals. It’s easier to work on what you find important. Make yourself happy by choosing what you dream of accomplishing. Starting is easier when it’s about making your future brighter.
7. Ignoring Feedback
Do not correct a fool or he will hate you, correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.Bruce Lee*
* Here is where the idea comes from: Proverbs 9:8. It’s as old as the world. You get to decide which one you’ll be:
A fool who doesn’t learn from experience – and that means other people.
The wise, who uses the gift of knowledge.
You can assume you know best. But it’s for your loss. In programming, there is a process of verifying work called code review. It looks similar to proofreading. You write your part, and then other people check it and propose changes. When I was staring, my heart tried to escape my chest anytime someone checked my work.
The feedback I treated as a personal attack.
Each comment meant I made a fool of myself. And the same approach I had in life. Now, I know it was free knowledge. The change of perspective enabled me to learn from others instead of feeling offended.
How to welcome unwelcome feedback
The future you want depends on people.
It’s because we build the world.
Focus on how you can use the knowledge you get instead of why you feel offended. Even if someone just tried to offend you, they could have a point. People may know something you don’t. Validate the claim, and use the info if it’s true.
Become one of the few people who can use criticism for their benefit.
Mistakes are inevitable. But denying them and getting delusional is not. It’s your responsibility to have the life you want. And you can’t have it while you repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of excusing yourself.
I did that for years.
Nothing useful comes out of it.
I know because I lose happiness and calmness whenever I get into these mistakes again. It’s normal to forget and lose the way from time to time. What matters then is getting back on track.
I gave you the tips I use. But one thing makes not repeating mistakes so much easier. It’s journaling. Writing down what you did wrong is a great reminder not to repeat it.