Beginner’s Mind When You’re Old

Photo by Lukas Denier on Unsplash

Last year was full of mistakes. As a certified self-critic, I could list hundreds of them. But as a learner committed to keeping a growth mindset, I can’t keep my mind open while focusing only on mistakes.

2022 was my first full calendar year in the real estate development business, and I wasn’t expecting to hit a home run with every decision. At least when you’re older, you have enough perspective to realize that going in. At the same time, I wanted to use my age, life experience, and professional skills to make smart decisions.

Did that happen? Yes and no.

There were some humble moments:

  • Spent too much money on a good product that was wrong for the application. (I mean way too much money.)
  • Hired a few contractors that I didn’t check thoroughly enough. Again, that resulted in wasted time and money.

There were some satisfying moments:

  • Transformed a nasty eyesore into a clean, orderly, and safe housing complex.
  • Formed a new partnership to provide stable housing for homeless youth.

I also learned some lessons, which brings me back to beginner’s mind. While I’m not really old (just keep it to yourself if you think otherwise), I’m at the point in life where many start to think about retirement. What the heck am I doing, trying to transition into something new?

I’m just getting started. That’s what I’m doing. I’m learning, and I’m going to keep on learning.

2022 had some valuable lessons:

  • Do your homework when it comes to hiring. Take the time to collect references, paperwork, licenses, insurance, etc., and verify them all before spending a penny.
  • Most problems do not have to be solved in a hurry. Take immediate action when necessary, but otherwise slow down. Haste makes waste, no joke.
  • Ask for advice from people who know more than you do. It can save a lot of heartache.
  • Trust your gut about people. (I’ve known this for a long time, but I keep getting updated lessons in the concept.)
  • Related to above, when people show you who they are, believe them. (Thank you, Maya Angelou. You are still my hero.)
  • If you’re small, female, and middle aged, people may not take you seriously, or may not notice you at all. Use this to your advantage whenever possible. Get to work and accomplish things while no one is watching.

Let’s go, 2023. I’ll keep working on my beginner’s mind and I’ll be open to learning new lessons. But you can bet I’ll use my age and wisdom to avoid learning the same lessons over and over again.

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