The Art of Making Mistakes

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” - Steve Maraboli


It’s early morning. As I sit on my front porch, with hot coffee warming my hands, I know.


I know that once again I’ve made a mistake.


Another one. 


If I could, I would yell and scream at myself in frustration.


Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I seem to figure it out? Why don’t I ever learn?


I close my eyes shut with frustration.


Another mistake - another lesson learned.


Why can’t I just get this right?


I mean my career - my purpose - have always been in the forefront of my mind. Dominating my decisions, my activities, where I go and what I do. It’s not like this is something I take lightly. Rather I take this rather seriously. So why do I keep screwing it up?!


An exasperated gasp escapes my lips. 


At least I’m willing to recognize the mistake, I tell myself.


This offers little consolation.


I can think of a number of reasons for this latest mistake; expectations, fear, desire for stability, along with others…


But why does it keep happening? Why does it feel like I’m just bumping along from mistake to mistake?


Well it turns out, I soon realize, that I’m just looking at it all wrong. Rather than consider every mistake a problem, I should alter my perspective.


Mistakes are learning opportunities. A chance to redefine yourself and discover what it is that makes you, you - and to create the life you want.


A chance to cut off the pieces that you know don’t work and cultivate the pieces you’ve discovered that do - and focus on those.


As H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah said, “Making mistakes is the art of discovery!”


So although it may seem like I’m just bumping along, I may have it all wrong. Rather, it turns out that these mistakes might just be what is directing me towards that “thing” that is right. That will make me come alive, in all the best ways.


In fact, when thinking back, that is exactly how a number of positive experiences have happened - as a result of mistakes.


I wouldn’t have ended up working at a hostel if I hadn’t left my job just a few months before and was looking for a creative way to cut down my living costs in Cape Town. And if I didn’t apply to that job, I would never have discovered my fiery passion for the youth tourism industry and seen first hand how it can positively change the lives of both staff and visitors.


So ultimately, it was a positive mistake. It was a step forward, not a step back.


Yes it was painful. Yes the transition was hard. And yes, I had absolutely no idea I would fall so hard - especially because I thought that I had found the job position of my dreams. 


Turned out I was wrong - and what I thought I wanted, wasn’t actually the best thing for me.


I would have never known that had I not tried to give it a shot. And I could possibly still be working towards that now if I hadn’t jumped in with both feet forward.


So in hindsight, the full committal to nearly a complete failure was a good thing, and it directed me towards where I want to go now.


So now that I find myself, once again, in a place where things aren't quite right, at least I know that I gave this particular lifestyle and job (different from what I have done previously) a shot - and in the process have discovered new aspects of what I like and what I do not.


Which ultimately directs my next steps.


So in the end, I guess I should look at making mistakes as an art, because that is really all it is.


Mistakes are failing forward and onwards to better things.


Because ultimately life is not without mistakes and failure. Rather it is full of it. Both large and small. So what you do with it is what matters - more than anything else.


So what is it for you? How have your mistakes allowed you to fall forward? 




I strongly dislike the word stuck


As an extremely independent individual, stuck brings up many negative connotations.


The word itself has a number of definitions - but the ones most fitting for my dislike are the informal definitions, including:

  1. Unable to progress with a task or find the answer or solution to something.
  2. Be or remain in a specified place or situation, typically one perceived as tedious or unpleasant.
  3. Be at a loss for or in need of.
  4. Unable to get rid of or escape from.


So, why do I dislike this word so much?


Well because feeling stuck brings me to a place of desperation, of need. It creates a strong gut reaction to get out. To get away. A deep sense of needing something to change - of a lack of balance. 


And to be stuck is one of my biggest fears.


Stuck is what happens when you give up. 


Stuck is what happens when you find yourself dwelling on a decision for hours on end twirling the thoughts around and around and around in your head endlessly with no coming solution.


Stuck is when you find yourself wasting time online - on social media - or any other diversion in order to distract yourself from that pressing feeling of something needing to be done now - but due to whatever reasons you just can’t do it right now.


I do believe everyone knows what I am talking about - but there are some of us who are more sensitive to it than others. 


And sadly, I believe there are even more people in the world who have desensitized themselves to this feeling or have reasoned their way out of it.


Settling is the friend of stuck. I’ve talked to far too many individuals who have settled into a lifestyle they hate - for whatever reason. Or friends who two years ago felt stuck in their current job, city, friend group, relationship, etc… who have just decided it is “the way it is” and are no longer fighting for a change. 


Seeing this drives me crazy. And it drives me to the edge of delirium when I find myself in the same situation.


I always need to be moving towards something more. Towards a goal. To a greater experience. To a greater world. To a better me.


Stuck is a feeling I have been fleeing from for most of my adult life. From the time I was 18 and off to college I have tried with all my might to create a lifestyle free of being stuck. From designing my own major in college, to working overseas for 2.5 years because I fell in love with Cape Town, South Africa when studying abroad there, to resigning from a job and drifting between volunteer positions until I found a dream gig in tourism, to moving myself back to the United States and back to Santa Barbara - a city I love - with few connections and no job - I have managed to keep moving and keep the fear of being stuck at bay.


However, as I move into a different season of life with a stable job and a home to call my own, it is difficult to not fear getting stuck here. 


But there is one aspect I’ve been missing all along.


You see, being stuck isn’t connected only to our physical location or the people we know - rather it is intertwined to our emotional state of being. 


This means that you can be in a corporate office job and feel stuck OR you can feel alive and like you are working in a position aligned with your purpose.


It all comes down to your perspective and goals.


Personally, this means that even though I find myself in a standard office job, it doesn’t mean I’m stuck


Instead,with the right perspective, this job allows me to live in one of the best cities in the country and find a community of people who enjoy a lifestyle similar to what I aspire to have myself.


It means I have a steady income while I write this blog and turn this, or other ventures, into side gigs - that may eventually become something bigger.


It means I have a place to learn new skills and test my abilities with upcoming tasks and new initiatives within the company.


It means I have a community of coworkers to interact with everyday.


Yes, I still struggle with a sense of being tied down at times, especially post working in tourism where travel was the norm.


However, I know this is a season. And seasons are good.


So whenever you find yourself stuck, reevaluate whether this job, city, friend group, relationship or whatever else, helps bring you a step closer to your goals. 


If not, let them go. 


But if they do, then give yourself the task of finding a way to bring meaning and perspective to that area of your life because ultimately it’s the only way to get unstuck.



Are you feeling stuck? If so let me know why and what is standing in your way in the comments below.

Goals vs. Dreams

This morning I stumbled across this quote,

“Goals are dreams with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill

It’s true, hey?

For some reason this particular quote took me off guard. Something about it struck a chord. 

It could be because I am in the midst of transition with a never-ending to do list that I have finally decided to tackle with all of my ability.

It could also be because I spent the time in the Rituals for Living Dreambook I mentioned in my previous post and experienced the difference between the two firsthand.

The book asks you to outline your dreams for the next 1 year, 3 years, 10 years and lifetime. Then slowly once those are defined it is a matter of choosing the top three dreams, breaking them down into steps and setting dates for completion on these steps. Guided processing then helps break it down even further into very simple actionable steps. Suddenly you find you've made your dreams, goals.

From a lofty dream to actionable steps you can take tomorrow. 

That is the process of making your dreams a reality.

This whole process is actually quite simple yet we often find ourselves drifting when it comes to our dreams. 

Instead of doing the work to break them down, we figure that one day we will just wake up and things will be different. That once we have the time we can focus on “the dream”. Or that once a certain condition, like losing the weight or being married or living in a certain place is met, we will ONLY THEN make the change. Yet, in our ever crazy and digitally consuming lives we rarely find that time and instead use our “conditions” as an excuse as to why we have not made any steps towards our goal. 

Rather we need to wake up from this idea of perfect conditions. 

Ultimately, there will never be a perfect time. We all know this. We just need to recognize it.

I remember when I had this realization. It was 2012, right out of college and I found myself in that uncertain time in between the life of a student and a professional. I knew how to be a student and achieve in the academic world. However, when it came to personal dreams I had the notion that one day I would just figure it out and the timing would be right. However, that time never came.

Instead, I found myself at a point of frustration where I knew I just had to start. In this particular case it was my weight and fitness that was driving me nuts. I had never successfully dieted and was never much of an athlete. So the day I decided to lace up my shoes and go outside was a big one. But I did it. And I did it everyday. At the same time I changed my diet and focused on core healthy foods. Within a few weeks there was a visible difference and I was amazed. This was the point when I realized how everyday steps allow you to achieve your dreams.

So whether you want to write a book, start a business, lose weight, travel the world or really anything else you can think of - start now. Break down those dreams into steps. Break down those steps into more steps. Set dates on each step. Break it down until it is possible to take that first step, and then the next one. 

Start tomorrow and begin your journey of making your dreams a reality.