- Worry less about my life.
In 2021, my greatest fears had been:
- "I won't be successful if I don't try harder. And even if I succeed, either it won't be enough, or I will have to sacrifice a lot to get there, I can't afford the losses..."
- "How would other people judge me if I...?"
- "Ohh, what is the point of me doing this if I am not going to carry this far from what I am taught here at school?"
Looking up to those people who have been written up as great successes. And I used to tell myself: to be successful is being unique, and I need to make a difference to many others.
But what is success really? I have been asking myself this a lot. The straight A's I am getting? The millions of dollars that I am going to make? Perhaps success is simply getting what you want, and for me to be happy for my success, I need to want what I get, to feel good about myself and my life.
What's obvious is that to be successful, we all have to give up something important to us. While thriving to excel in my academics, I had to socialize less to give myself those extra hours studying or revising for exams. After thinking about what trivialities I could give up in my head, I figured out the one requirement to fill - I have to care less. So I ask myself the question: "what is it that we can let go of?"
At the very least, I concluded by stopping comparing myself with others. Y13 has been a competitive year. It almost feels like once the gun sounds, we must win the race and finish it off for the first place. Perhaps that's not what I really want at the end of life. All I ever wanted was to pursue rationalism; keep growing stability and continuously so that I won't leave myself any regrets while looking back.
The only way to avoid regrets is to seize the opportunities presented to us. When things go wrong, if we act honestly and give a convincing explanation to ourselves that we've tried best and we've acted on the best information, it's pretty hard to regret. I still look around and see things I could have had I didn't have. But now, what's different is that I try to get over it. Sometimes by persuading myself that I made the decision consciously following logical reasoning, so it shouldn't be a wrong decision; therefore, I have no regrets.
2. Follow the simply rules
For years, I have been so involved in doing what other people tell me to do. I think it's now the time for me to figure out who I am really, do what I want to do, not what others expect me to be. So always choosing to follow my passion would be the new set rule for me now.
Besides, I want myself to fully understand the role of enough. Enough sets a limit, and it tells you the rest is excess. As human beings, we always want more and give ourselves a reason for a sense of enough allows transitions to move from one another. Setting individual tasks or time frame not only motivate us to get there but also rewards us once we've achieved it. They do beautiful things.
The last but not the very least one is obvious, which is to work hard. We are not going to be a great basketball play unless we shoot hundreds of hoops every day; being willing to put in the effort is the magical key that can help you unlock any doors in life.
3. Know what I am striving for.
There are many forms of achievement; money, power, fame, recognition, identification... What's obvious is that we can't have them all. I've got a few teachers who are rich but not well known. My uncle is a billionaire who'd pay millions to get himself out of the local newspapers...
I'd want to talk about the three main types of accomplishment:
- Significance - have I made any positive impact on the people I care about?
- Happiness - do I feel content about my life?
- Legacy - have I left something for generations to come?
Again, apparently, we want them all, but one activity rarely has it all, and we can't achieve in all dimensions; they are uncorrelated. Many of my friends at school are not very talented academically, but they live happily. Marilyn Monroe, one of the most popular sex symbols, wasn't happy while she lived while being a high achiever. My mom is significant in my life, but she honestly doesn't have awful a lot of achievement to tell. Karl Marx was abusive to his family, an alcoholic, which somehow links with unhappiness, but he left a considerable legacy.
The time frame for each one is different. Happiness is all about me and the present; I don't know anyone who says, "I'll one day be happy in the future!" You can't wait to be happy... can you? Legacy is really about your impact on the future, and it's usually left to define by others. Achievement is the funny one; it depends on who people compare themselves to. If I were greedy enough to compare myself with Mark Zuckerberg, I'd feel valueless! We could always compete with somebody who'd make you feel bad.
I have to admit that one of my main drivers is pride, the feeling of pleasure/satisfaction for the things I have done, the results. For improvement, I want to target more on fulfillment/contentment. They won't necessarily help me down on my achieving road, and I don't mean them in a way that I will sit on my couch for the entire day and order takeouts (although that'd make me happy, it's just not the best decision to make). Again, doing what I love is the primary condition to chase contentment.
Altruism could also make me happy; embrace generosity, caring, and helping people win. But at the same time, these kind acts kind of diminish my own achievement due to the time consumption they might require. So I have to ask myself the question: "who are important to me that I am helping to succeed?" That would be the question I ask myself whenever I decide to help others.
4. Be explicit about the bets I am making.
There are three outcomes in every bet we make: I won; I lost; I still don't know. I have repeatedly been telling myself not to settle and make progress instead. And yet, I've never doubted the source of this thought "am I in the right place to strive?"
Harvard doesn't suit everyone, and we have to choose the right one. The challenge facing me in the coming years is to focus on achievement; work hard for those things I want, and allocate enough time to them. Hopefully, through thriving to achieve what matters to me, I can find my significance and happiness, and eventually, my legacy will raise its head. Be mindful to constantly ask yourself the question, "what are the values you bring through my life?" Think about it, money is perhaps not the best answer. Nothing's wrong with money, but the richest of your life won't be measured by it.