“Don’t Measure Once”.
I wrote these words on my bedroom wall at the start of 2022.
They only lasted a few weeks, but they set the tone for what I wanted to achieve in the year.
This was my adaptation of an old carpentry saying, “measure twice, cut once”. The idea was that one should double-check one’s measurements for accuracy before cutting a piece of wood, as any error would mean having to cut the wood again, wasting valuable time and material.
In the world of carpentry, careful planning and preparation are fundamental to a successful job. But, in life, I questioned whether this was always necessary.
I’ve always been decent at measuring twice. I usually think deeply about any significant decisions and weigh up the potential positive and negative outcomes. I like to be in control of my actions, and measuring twice enables that reality.
However, sometimes measuring twice leads to cautiousness and tentativeness. Being unwilling to jump into new scenarios spontaneously because of the fear associated with taking action before thinking about the possible outcomes.
We live when we take risks. We live when we go into the unknown, not recklessly, but without considering every possible consequence of our action and what the consequence of that consequence might be. Otherwise, the cycle of “measuring twice” only builds fear and anxiety about what the future may hold.
So, I didn’t just want to measure twice; sometimes, I wanted to not measure at all. And this is where those words were born, “don’t measure once”. If I thought that a decision required careful thought, then I needed to measure twice. But, if I felt that I needed to jump into the unknown, I didn’t want to measure at all.
In February, I started thinking about starting my own satire media page. This was going to take up a significant amount of time and involve the contribution of multiple people, so I needed to measure twice. I had to think about the possible risks of starting a new project, whether I had the time available, and if I needed to cut down on other aspects of my life to ensure I could work towards making the project successful. After this period of deliberation, I started the page, the Misinformed Magpie, with a team of 9 others, which is continuing to grow and spread satirical content across social media.
Here, I recognised the weight of the decision I had to make and acknowledged that if my only two options were measuring twice or not measuring at all, the best option was to carefully measure twice before taking action.
In May, my friend told me that he was travelling to Dubai in late June. Without hesitation, I asked if I could join him on the trip. In a few minutes, we were planning our itinerary and flights to the United Arab Emirates, which eventually included a small side adventure to Turkey and Greece. I didn’t measure at all. I didn’t wait a couple of weeks to consider the options and potentially missed out on the opportunity. I felt I needed to jump into the unknown, take a risk, and see where it would end up. If I had measured twice, I might not have gone at all.
I definitely haven’t been perfect in following this mindset. There have been times that I’ve measured twice too often instead of just saying yes. Whether it was a night out where I spent too long considering how it would impact my ability to study the next day, or needlessly worrying about an upcoming medical appointment, I haven’t always committed to not measuring once.
But that’s okay. There’s a toxic reality in society where when you publicly commit to doing something, you have to be perfect at it. If you start posting about your athletics competitions on social media and publicise your success, anything less than being a national champion is looked down upon by onlookers. This often comes out of jealousy, witnessing someone else being motivated towards their goals while the viewer may feel stuck in the same place. I haven’t explicitly plastered “don’t measure once” around my social media, but I take comfort in knowing that I tried. Those 3 words on my wall were in my mind throughout the year.
Now, the question begs: what will 2023 be like? What will my focus be as I enter into a new year?
Well, I’m going to continue trying to not measure once. The calendar change shouldn’t abandon what I’ve worked towards this year. And if I was a true pessimist, I probably would’ve stopped reading this post by now because “who cares about a new year anyway”. But, I’m going to continue dwelling on a phrase I stumbled across last month, which has inspired me and helped to put my work into a clearer perspective:
“Pressure is a Privilege”.
I hope that you find something to motivate you in 2023. For me, words often do the trick. But for you, it could be an image, a song, a friendship, or even a place. Find something that you can bring your mind back to, which can point you in the right direction. Otherwise, we get lost in the trillions of things we consume daily, offline and online.