Updated: November 10, 2020
Have you ever failed an exam because of a single wrong answer? It’s painful to realize that the difference between you and a passing grade was just one question. And you should have gotten right if only you didn’t doubt yourself and changed the answer.
This has happened to me several times. If not one, it’s just two or three questions, which I second-guessed or remembered the correct answer to, just minutes after I passed my paper.
But eventually, as it should be, I learned to accept the failing grade. I move on and study harder so I can do better in the next exam.
Such is the life of a student, which in due course, becomes our life after graduation. We face and make choices, commit mistakes, learn to accept failure, move on, and strive to become better next time.
Lessons and tests
However, the tests we take in school are not always like what life gives us.
They say that in school, we’re taught the lessons first and then take the test. While in life, we’re tested first and learn the lessons after.
But moreover, in school, we can conveniently get the exam results a few days after to know if we passed or failed. While in life, it can sometimes take years before we know the consequences of our choices; if we succeeded or failed.
Such is life – and the precise reason why you should allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
I am a civil engineering graduate and was able to land a good-paying job after I passed the board exams. A few years into the practice, a door to a career in software development opened up for me.
At that point, I had to make a choice – continue being an engineer or shift to information technology.
I wasn’t failing as an engineer so there was no reason for me to leave the profession. Additionally, there’s no assurance that I would succeed if I went into computer programming. But I nevertheless decided to take the risk and jump ship.
Just a little over a year after, another choice presented itself to me – to stay with my current I.T. path or try my hand at being an entrepreneur.
Again, there wasn’t any significant reason to change the status quo. In fact, it was more precarious to do so because I have zero experience in running a business at that time. Yet again, I chose to take the risk and jump ship.
I have come a long way from being a civil engineer to being who I am now, a financial advocate. And only time will tell who or what I will become in the years ahead.
I’ve faced hundreds of such opportunities over the years. Sometimes I stayed safe and continued with my current path, and sometimes I took the risk and jumped ship.
Some of the choices I made turned out to be good decisions, while some turned out to be bad moves. But as we already know, there are no mistakes in life, only lessons to be learned.
So what am I really saying here?
First, do not be complacent about your life. When things are comfortable and secure, check if you’re really doing good and getting closer to your goals, or if you just stopped moving forward and trying to avoid further personal growth.
Second, when your life has been reduced to a routine where you’re just waiting for things to happen, then do not be afraid to take a risk and do something new and different.
It will always be uncomfortable, difficult even, but it’s nevertheless a luxury that you can afford to have most of the time. And you don’t need to wait for the results of your previous life choices before you can change and follow a path of new uncertainties.
Author’s Note: The title of this article is a quote from Maria Popova.