The Year in Review, Part 2: Failure is how we Succeed
Previously, I wrote about what happened this year that went well for me. This was a year of tremendous change, and a true re-imagining of how I view and run my life. And while there were many victories, there were also some things that I wish I had done differently or had turned out better. That’s what this post is about. Some of my failures this year are intensely personal, but no less related to my outlook on the coming year.
Relationships & Family. This year, my father and grandmother (his mother) passed away within a week of one another. I like to think grandma passed away first to welcome dad to afterlife and chastise him for not being a better son and father. My dad and I weren’t the closest in life, and geography and language separated me from his parents, who spoke no English. We think our parents (and grandparents) will live forever, or at least we hope they do. When they passed away, I remember going to the ocean to honor their memories and thanking them for the lessons I learned from them, by their absence. Which is to say: you don’t get to choose your family, but appreciate them for who they are and what they have taught you, explicitly and implicitly. My dad taught me about entrepreneurship, and about following through.
My grandmother taught me how to communicate effectively without ever saying a word. When we used to visit my grandparents in Bangkok, I would watch them interact with my dad, and not understand a single word they were saying. I felt tone, watched body language, and my Grandmother’s reactions to my dad were so strong, I felt I understood her, even though I didn’t understand any of the words.
Both of them, in fact the entirety of my dad’s side of the family, taught me by their absence what a gift it is to know your family, and how important it is to forgive and let go. If you could understand how you got certain traits or habits, could that possibly make you a more effective person or a kinder human being by doing more or less of something?
The second lesson here, on a broader level, was to honor the relationships I have. I am grateful for each and every person in my life, however long they choose to stay. My part is to remain present and attentive, to make choices that nurture the relationship, and when our time is up, for whatever reason or circumstance, to let them go with honor and respect.
Finances. Guess what? When you don’t have a steady pay check from a day job, your finances become a cash flow game. On the whole, it was a good year for income as an actor, and using my savings effectively, but I could have done so much better. Case in point, managing cash flow. Knowing how much you need in your accounts, by when, so you can pay your bills and not incur the wrath (e.g., irritatingly expensive fees) of banks. Over the past few years, I’d been working hard to create a process for managing my finances that allowed for this, but I didn’t plan for how that would change when my income went from a check of the same amount once every 2 weeks to a check of various amounts every whenever it came. Because of this very expensive lesson, one of my areas of focus for the coming year will be how to manage cash flow on a freelancer’s unsteady income.
Time & Energy Management. I am my own boss, I manage my own time. For the most part, I have been very good about keeping a rigorous schedule. Each morning spent in exercise, meditation and then focused on auditions and creating. Each afternoon focused on networking, and nurturing my relationships and mind with meetings, classes and performing. I have found on the few occasions I’ve been sick or injured this year, that it’s been too easy to slip into laziness, and that I need to be more consistent about how I manage my time and energy. In the first few weeks of the year, I’m planning a little experiment, a simplified version of a consultant’s time study. The purpose is to document my time by accomplishment (or lack thereof) and identify patterns and areas to improve over the course of the year.
I am a fan of the idea that you should fail early and fail often. You should learn from those mistakes in order to grow and move on. After all, even Thomas Edison failed at creating a light bulb the first 10,000 or so times. The failures and missteps of this year are opportunities for me to grow and evolve. And in the next post, I’ll explore what I’m focused on for 2013 and outline how I plan to get there. Thanks for reading, and if you are so moved, feel free to share what you wish had gone better for you this year, and perhaps, how you’ll address it in the coming year!