How Not To Screw Up Your Life

I’m writing this for a friend in need. Bear with me as I do a point-by-point lesson in life, starting with Point Zero.

0. You have one life.

(Unless, of course, you’re a Buddhist, to which the following still applies, if only to determine whether you return in your next life as a human or a tse tse fly. But for all intents and purposes of what you’re reading here, let’s just talk about this one life of yours that you have now.)

1. You have one life. You do not want to screw up.

You want to live every single day of your life right, ensure that you succeed in everything you do, and work towards making every single moment perfect in order to achieve the best possible outcome. And not just for yourself; you want to make every single person you care about happy, too.

2. You have this life. You will screw up.

But the very annoying thing about your life – and you know as well as anyone and everyone does – is that your one life isn’t perfect. Nobody’s life is perfect. Heck, the world isn’t perfect. Which is why no matter how hard anyone tries, there is simply no way to live a perfect life, simply because all of life’s and all of the world’s imperfections will never allow you to.

You really need to accept this. Seriously. Because screwing up is a universal truth in life that cannot be avoided, and the harder you try, the more fucked up your life’s gonna get. (So the Blogfather swears. Hey, nobody’s perfect.) But before you go telling me, “Oh, dude, that’s so defeatist,” Point 2 is a precursor to Point 3.

3. You have this one life. You need to screw up.

Because that’s how you learn, and I mean, really learn. We’ve been so conditioned by our local education system to covet success and fear failure that we yearn (and very willingly pay) for lecture notes, textbooks, PowerPoint slides with bulleted instructions, workshops, seminars and conferences for something as simple as getting the right mix of hot and cold water in order to make baby formula, or as inane as when you can start feeding your kid prawn noodle soup (there’s a story behind that, but let’s save it for another day), or as personal and subjective as parenthood.

4. You’re living this one life. Don’t be afraid of screwing up.

You can be told the right way to do things, but you don’t necessarily learn to do it right. To make matters worse, the guy telling you might be wrong (ironic that I’m saying this isn’t it?).

Now you’re worried. It’s okay; concern is what ensures your safety. But while worrying about doing it may keep you safe for the time being, dwelling on it only wastes away the time you need to live. You need to set a time limit before you decide to do it, and if you still haven’t figured out how to do it right, then try doing it wrong.

Do things the wrong way, and you’ll sure as hell know how to do it right the next time round (I hold some authority on this subject, having garnered 35 years of experience of doing things wrongly). And if you don’t even know what’s the wrong way to do it, then just do it anyway.

Do it a different way, though, and you stand a 50-50 chance of either doing it wrong, or you find a new way to do things -? and you’ll stick to doing it your way. So don’t be afraid of screwing up; only be afraid of not learning from it.

5. You’re still alive; that means you’re not a screw-up.

And if anyone out there says you are, you really can just tell them very politely to please go screw themselves, because God knows you’re doing the best you bloody well can with what you’ve been dealt with. For that matter, you should assume that anyone out there who would say you’re a screw-up, would have contributed to said screw-up in some way.

6. Live your life well, and you won’t screw up.

This will be much easier on you if you’ve followed through Points 1 to 5. In fact, you’re in a very good place to live life well right this moment. As imperfect as your life may be, no one can fault you for being a bad person. No one. And to date you have managed to achieved so much; You have established yourself well in your career, you have remained filial to your parents, you are a loving husband, and you are a very dedicated father. Despite your opinion of yourself and your assumption that all this just fell on your lap after some magical blackout, you did all this. For yourself, and the people around you. Yes, yes you did.

You have one life. But you’re not living it alone.

You matter, because you lived your one life the way you did, and you need to keep living it for the lives that need you, and the lives that you need.

And if you need me, you have my number.

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