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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Course Correction

Pencils have erasers for a reason: everyone makes mistakes, everyone makes bad decisions.

To err is human; therefore, one of the most important skills we can develop is course correction. It’s crucial to recognize when a mistake is a mistake, to learn from our indiscretions, and then to change course and move forward a better person.

Life is a test, and sometimes we pick the wrong answer—no big deal, right? Unfortunately we often pick the same wrong answer over and over, thereby avoiding any other possible outcome, and therefore avoiding the correct answer. It’s strange—we wouldn’t’ve done this on our old school tests: we never filled in the answer bubble on our Scantron sheet just to erase it and fill in the same bubble again and again and again.

In daily life we do this all the time: we mess up and then take the same path, which leads to the same dead end. And then we do it again. And again. And again.

To make things more complicated, life’s answers change as we get older; therefore, yesterday’s right answer may not be today’s right answer.

To live enriched, fulfilled lives, we must hone our ability to course correct: if you intelligently assess where you are, where you’re headed, and make the necessary tweaks to move forward, you’ll be fine; if you keep filling in the same bubble, you’re in for a future of bad marks.

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.