Neil Gaimon has gorgeous wishes for the new year. Seriously. I wish they were my words. His new year’s wishes are unexpected and challenging and thought-provoking — not merely to have a good year or a happy year — and this year is no different:
And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.
And it’s this.
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
I am not good at making mistakes. I’m too much of a perfectionist to like making mistakes; I try to avoid them whenever possible. Unfortunately, that can lead to inaction, and faltering action, and not pushing oneself — not challenging oneself or putting oneself out there.
Perhaps that should be my real new year’s resolution: to not be afraid of making mistakes. I don’t know that I’d want a resolution to actually make mistakes because wouldn’t it be grand if the “glorious, amazing” attempts actually succeeded instead of failing?
Perhaps I’m missing the point, but I think the real value in the wish to make mistakes is in the attempt — in allowing oneself to make the mistakes, in the chances taken that wouldn’t have been risked otherwise, in actually taking action. It’s not really about the mistakes themselves: it’s about the attitude toward the possibility of making mistakes and not letting that frighten you away from opportunities. It’s like the quote attributed to Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.”
Opening myself up to making mistakes isn’t easy. It’s not something I particularly want to do: it seems rather unpleasant and a little bit frightening. But it also seems like an opportunity to grow, and for that, it may be worth the risk.