11 Story-Killing Mistakes to Avoid
Better stories don’t just happen. It requires intentionally fighting against the natural desire to be normal.
And sometimes along the way, we make mistakes. Some mistakes are easy to recover from. Some are not. Some mistakes are so big, they will affect your story will for the rest of your life.
Don’t confuse failure and mistakes. Failures are an important process of life. They are opportunities to learn something new. To see what will happen when you poke the box a little.
Mistakes are something completely different. Mistakes are preventable. They are those things that should never happen but do. We make mistakes because we refuse to learn. We refuse to listen.
When a mistake happens, you look back and realize you should have known better.
This is your chance to be warned. Here are some of the dumbest, most obvious mistakes I have made. All of these are potential story killers.
1. Do things to get people to like you. Even if these people do like you, it’s not the real you. Plus you are miserable for it. Wear the clothes you like. Hang out at the places you like. Eat the food you like. Write your own story, not the one you think people want to see.
You will eventually make friends with people who like you as you and not fabricated you. An honest story is always better than a popular one.
2. Wait to get started. Filing taxes. Starting on a big project. Finding a job. Breaking up with a girlfriend. Doing the laundry. Living a better story. Just a few examples of things that become much harder when we wait.
3. Have as much fun as possible right now because you are young or you deserve it. It’s important to have a good time, but you can’t let it become the reason for your existence. The sooner you learn the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing work, the happier you will be. I regret the time lost watching television or playing video games or doing nothing. And that time is gone forever. Forever.
5. Staying home instead of traveling. Seeing the world. Experiencing cultures. Trying new foods. Learning a new language. All of these will make your story better by showing you that “normal” is different for everyone. Plus it is fun while you do it.
6. Try to avoid failure. The only way you can avoid failure is to do nothing new. Nothing creative. Nothing exciting. You can choose predictable and safe, but it gets you absolutely nowhere. Your goal should be to fail. Not because you want to, but because your real goal is to keep trying until you discover something new.
7. Try to be successful. Most equate celebrity with success. We equate popularity or income or demand with success. So we pursue celebrity instead of just trying to be the best at what we do. Don’t get these confused. Viktor Frankl said it best.
Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued: it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself …
8. Not reading a variety of good books. Reading is like exercise for your brain. If you never exercise your body, you feel bad. Especially when you are asked to do something challenging. Your stamina will be low. You will be weak. Don’t expect your mind to be any different. Your brain needs exercise too. Reading isn’t the only way to job your mind, but it is one of the best and easiest ways.
9. Don’t floss. Cavities are bad no matter how you look at it. The cost of dental work. Bad breath. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, floss your teeth.
10. Assume you have all the answers. Whether it is about life, religion, the opposite sex, work, sports, or buying a new car, listen to others. Gather from a range of perspectives, then formulate your opinion.
11. Go in debt. The heaviest shackles I have ever worn were placed on my by myself by accruing debt. It sucks. Free t-shirts just aren’t worth it.
What mistakes have you made while trying to live your better story?
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