We’ve all made poor decisions that somehow “turned out okay.” We’ve all been subjected to unfair conditions or ridiculous experiences that miraculously “turned out okay.” That doesn’t mean we should use “it turned out okay” as the basis for determining what to do next.
Before I owned a car, I walked everywhere. It was really inconvenient at times, but I turned out okay. Should I insist on walking everywhere from now on?
I once got angry and yelled at a friend for giving me critical feedback. It was a purely defensive reaction. We have a deep history and a strong bond, so we turned out okay. Should I always yell at him when we disagree?
I often hear people say, “Well, I did the opposite and I turned out okay,” whenever anyone points out a new option or tool. Point out the value of doing an apprenticeship and some will say, “Well, I went to a traditional school and I turned out okay.” Point out the value of homeschooling or unschooling and some will say, “Well, I went to public school and I turned out okay.”
It’s not a bad thing when things “turn out okay,” but there’s more to life than merely finding examples of people who made the most of their less-than-ideal situation. Life isn’t just about doing the best with what you have. It’s also about striving to make things better. It’s not about saying, “I did X and didn’t die.” It’s about saying, “I’m going to do Y so I can become fully alive.”
I once found a silver dollar on the ground while walking to work. I was thankful, but I didn’t spend the rest of my day walking around in search of more money lying on the ground. I stayed focused on getting to work. I had a purpose for walking and I pursued it.
When you look back on experiences that “turned out okay,” be thankful, but don’t waste your life searching for more things that might turn out okay. Live with a purpose. Aim for a positive goal. Optimize your opportunities. Go after something that’s better than okay. Then you can look back and say, “Well, that turned out amazing.”
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.