At the beginning of this year I wrote about resolutions. Yesterday I went back to that post and re-read it. It applies as much now as it did then. If you’re new to the Beastly world, or even if you’ve been a loyal reader for years, take a minute to read it.
So, do I make resolutions? Yup. I try to make ones that make sense; that’ll add something to my life. I don’t stack up a large number of them. Four at the most. At least one will be something that really challenges me.
I give some consideration to resolutions. They have to have meaning. Substance. Getting high score in Angry Birds would be awesome, but it doesn’t quite have that ‘quality of life’ thing I’m looking for.
One of the valuable things I learned about resolutions is that I don’t tell people what they are. There’s a strange thing that goes on when I tell people about a goal. Everyone is very supportive and encouraging and before I’ve even started on it my brain is filling me with the good feelings I’d get if I’d already reached the goal.
There’s a slightly less positive side to telling people about resolutions and that’s the people who are a bit less encouraging. The ones who say things like, ‘Yeah, I remember making a resolution to do that. But, you know, things get in the way. I couldn’t find the time.’ or ‘That’s a good goal. But if you don’t make it, it’s okay. You’re only human.’
I’m not even out of the starting gate and someone is already telling me to prepared to fail.
And that brings me to what I wanted to talk about. Failure.
Everyone of us has a list of stories about failing that could reach out the door and down the street. All the things we’d hoped to do that never happened. Dreams of what our life would be like, but instead we’re nowhere near that dream. Some of the reasons for our failures were in our control and others were far beyond us.
Now, before anyone feels so depressed they want to walk into the ocean and never come back let me shine some light on this. Stick with me.
Failure comes with some fascinating accessories. One of them are blinders. As the meaning of failure sets in these blinders narrow our view of ourselves until we lose sight of all of the great and amazing things and people in our lives. All of our past successes vanish like they never happened.
Another goodie out of the Failure Grab Bag is the white flag. We tell ourselves, ‘what’s the point’. No, it’s not a question seeking an answer. It’s a rhetorical question because we know the answer is that it’s pointless to try. We’ll never win. We’ll never make it.
And with both hands firmly grasping that flag we put all our energy into waving it like we’re fighting off a swarm of bees and rarely let go.
And the grand daddy of the lot is fear. This is the big one. This is the dream killer, the inventor of the ‘comfort zone’, the paralyses of life.
Nobody is immune to fear. I’ve stared fear right in the face, screamed like a little girl and ran for the hills. We fear failure because it’s painful, or even worse, failure strips away our comfortable view of the world and flaunts in our faces that we are powerless to control what happens in life.
But we do have control and understanding that is very powerful. We have control over what we do. We decide our actions. If we fail at something nobody holds a gun to our head and orders us to give up. We decide to either give up or get up and try again.
Life is about growing. I don’t mean aging. Growing. To become more than we are. I didn’t say it was easy. I’ve slammed so hard into a brick wall of failure I have called it quits before the dust had settled. ‘That’s it. Finished. Over. No more.’
It was a long time before I tried anything again. But I made myself do it. If we stopped doing something because we failed at it, pretty soon we’d be living in a box. What kind of life is that?
Okay, so we didn’t pass the test, we gained two pounds, our heart got broken, we burnt dinner, got turned down for a date, etc., etc. And… what now?
Any time we make a decision to do something it automatically comes built in with a risk of failure. So, my advice is to think about what those failures could be, then think about what you’d do if you fail. After all, you have a plan for when you succeed. Have a plan for when you fail. Isn’t that why ships have life rafts, and cars have a spare tire?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Instead be terrified of never trying.