The Second Time

Learning the lesson to inform my progression

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The movie, About Time, is a perspective-changing adventure. At the heart of the heart-warming film is the question:

How would you live your life if you were living it for the second time?

You’ve probably seen this cute cover atop the “A” section of the inflight movie catalogue as you deliberately scroll through every option, review 10 trailers, then eventually decide to take a nap instead…
or maybe that’s just me.

The plot follows a family where the men can travel back in time. It’s a crafty exploration of the theme because the movie’s creators didn’t make them superheroes. They just introduced the superpower into the lives of ordinary people, then kept them doing ordinary things.

When the protagonist, Tim, learns of his abilities, he starts using them on the daily. He's constantly righting every wrong, no matter how small.

The first time is when he returns to a party where he was overcome by insecurity. This had caused him to completely bypass the opportunity to kiss the woman who likes him. But… not the second time. The second time he carpe diem's and shoots his shot.

Later in the movie, when he meets the girl of his dreams, he uses his powers to refine what he says until their interaction becomes perfection.

His life becomes a never-ending process of optimization: slipping up & making mistakes, then jumping back to the past to correct them.

Now, I won't waste my energy wishing for Tim's fictional powers - obviously, I can't go back and change the moves I've already made. But I'm fine with that. I have this other superpower:
The choice of how I'll live the next 24 hours.

I have a habit of making mistakes. But I don't make it a habit of replaying them in my head. Instead, I intentionally set aside time every night to reflect on the question: "What's 1 lesson that today taught me?" This is my chance to pause & ponder how I might have lived today differently, if only I were given the opportunity.

A Case Study of My Mistakes

  • I snapped at a colleague while I was overwhelmed —> next time I'll get some fresh air before responding like I don't care

  • I rushed through a dinner with my friends to get to another event —> next time I'll avoid overbooking to create the space to be present

  • I took myself wayyyyy too seriously when writing (again) —> next time I'll release my attachment to the finished product and remember to just have fun with it

This isn’t meant to be a regret-inducing, head-banging rumination session. No-no-no. I'm aware that the past is frozen forever. Instead, this is my chance to review a backwards-facing lesson in order to inform my go-forward progression.

It's an important part of the process of becoming who I aspire to be... 1 day, 1 night, 1 step at a time.

Sure, it'd be nice to have Tim's power to correct mistakes in real-time. But, I trust the process, and know that I'm refining my actions in due time.

Through it all, whether I’m building a new skill or improving an old one, I try not to obsess over “avoiding failure.” After all, like my good friend, Kobe, once said:

"Failure doesn't exist! Seriously, it doesn't exist. It's a figment of your imagination... The point is that the story continues.

If you fail on Monday, the only way it's a failure on Monday is if you decide to NOT progress from that... If I fail today, then, ok. I’m gonna learn something from that failure and I’m gonna try again on Tuesday."

I can always reframe my mistakes as the learning opportunities that they are. As I prepare to live my day tomorrow, I can reflect on what I wish I knew when I started today.

And here's a cheeky lil secret:
You don't have to wait to make the mistake!

Whenever I feel stuck on what to do next, I imagine that my day (or my life) has already played out in the way that it's progressing. Then, like Tim traveling back to this very moment, I just ask myself the question:
"How would I live today if I were living it for the second time?"

What's the lesson I'm gonna eventually learn if I continue down this path?
What might be the current reason for my future regret?
Where can I make a preemptive adjustment before the present becomes the past?

If I can hear these reminders right now, then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't even want to change anything the second time around.

Thank you to my good friend, Chris Cziesla, for the movie rec. You're more useful than a rotten tomato.

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