The academic year has just ended, and if there was anything that I have learnt, I can summarise it into two key lessons.
Sometimes, we have to take risks.
We are young right now. We want to explore all our options before making a firm decision. We want to make sure that we have made the best choice. We do not want to lose out by making the wrong choice, only to discover that there was a better option had we waited a little longer.
This means that by committing to something, we feel that we are taking a huge personal risk.
But what I came to realise is that if we do not commit to taking the risk, we would face another risk: the risk of not gaining anything at all.
Let’s take an example. Let us say that I want to try out many different things: I want to learn to play the guitar, learn programming, and train to be good at a certain sport. But because I just want to “try things out”, I do not want to fully commit to any of these activities.
Everyone has different abilities and personal motivations. Let’s say that after six months, due to my lack of effort and commitment, I still can’t play the guitar, programme or even do sports. So what have a I gained? Nothing. And what have I lost? Six months of my time. In the end, I would probably get frustrated at my lack of progress in everything and I would just jump onto the next activity that takes my fancy.
But had I at least committed to one activity, and put a strong effort into it, at the very least I stand a chance that I would have taken something home in the end. I would have something to show for my six months of effort. And even if I do not succeed, I would still get some useful lessons out of it: I have tried my best and this thing really isn’t for me. Knowing that I am at a dead-end means that I should take other paths. I am less lost than I would be if I did not find out about the dead-end. Now at least I know where not to go.
This leads to my next lesson:
Do not do something for the sake of hype.
Using a modified version of the above example, let us say that for this month, it is the thing to learn how to play the guitar. And later in the next month, guitars are deemed mainstream and no longer novel, therefore no longer cool. The next big thing is to learn programming. And soon this trend dies down and gives way to another fad.
Realistically, it is very clear that there is no way to be good at something if we just blindly follow trends. For the most of us, it is simply too little time to actually master something. From personal experience, I know many individuals who fall for the hype on very serious business matters. Some are heavily involved in making apps. Apps for smartphones are not easy to develop. They take time and effort to design and produce. But if one were to lose focus on the current project, and always try to jump onto the next bandwagon, I can only tell you that 99% of the time, you will not be able to publish any app that is worthwhile.
The conclusion is, if you want to achieve something, you need to first take the risk to commit to something, and put in all your undivided attention into it. Rome was not built in a day. Cliché, but this rings true more than ever in our generation of instant gratification. So I urge you to go against the grain, take clear decisive action, and live each day to the fullest, so that when you go to bed, you can confidently tell yourself, “I have accomplished something.”.
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