Failure (in which we try, try again)

Well. You failed. That thing you tried doing, it didn’t work. You didn’t get the job, your business didn’t succeed, you broke up, the souffle fell. Whatever. You failed. Congratulations, you’re a human person.

I know it feels rough to fail. But there are a few things to keep in mind. First, don’t take it personally. Second, failing does not make you a failure. Your identity is not wrapped up in this thing that failed. Sure, you had something to do with it, but this thing, this FAILURE, really is only a Tier One Failure, entry level stuff. There’s a reason it’s called a “rough draft”—it isn’t pretty. But now you’ve gotten that out of the way!

Worse would be giving up, not trying again. That’s a Tier Two Failure. To continue growing as a person, avoid this. Have you ever watched a kid learning to walk? They fall, and they fall, and just when you think they’ve gotten the hang of it, they fall again. They cry, they laugh, they don’t give up. So don’t give up. Try, try again.

But here’s the thing, you have to do it a bit differently next time. Your Tier Three Failure is refusing to learn. This is the big part of the thing—it’s time to do some work. So. Let’s learn from our mistakes; it’s time to reflect.

I’m going to recommend writing these questions (and their answers) down. But that’s the sort of person I am. So grab a notebook (bullet journal, the back of an envelope, a Starbucks napkin, whatever). Ready?

What went wrong?

What went right?

What is the goal? (OR- what result am I looking for?)

Why is that the goal?

I’ll give you a hint, the WHY will be the hardest to answer. Dig deep. Search. Be honest. Because the why is what drives the what. It may speak to why things went the way they did on the first go-around. It may speak to other decisions, attitudes, and actions in your life. Answer “Why?” and you’re well on the way to making a better second try!   

Armed with our Pro-and-Cons-List-on-Steroids, we can adapt our plan and strategize with a fresh perspective. Take a look at what went wrong and what went right answers. What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of? What other changes need to be implemented? It’s a strategy session—fake left, go right (or some other sports-related reference…)  What were the weakness of the first draft? Where can you build on your strengths? Where do we go from here?

And then we repeat the process. Like that toddling tot, we keep on trying. Because we see other people doing it, we know it can be done. We know it’s attainable. We just have to keep putting in the work.

Failure

I am not a big risk-taker. Truly, failure is one of my biggest fears, and it’s stopped me from doing a lot. But not everything– some things I’ve jumped on. And oh boy, have I failed. In what ways?

I thought I was going to learn to run a coffee shop. I moved out of state for a year to learn, and came back with the knowledge that was NOT what I wanted to do.

I dropped out of college (only for a semester)

I don’t think I’ve ever made it in a romantic relationship past a few months.

I didn’t scroll down on a customer email and didn’t get them the product they needed.

And my most recent very big failure– I tried to go out on my own. Last year, I decided to go to part time at my office job while trying to start a business of my own. I’m a massage therapist, and I thought people would flock to me. But a series of mental health snafus and not-marketing-myself-at-all, and I think I ended up paying more in rent than I made! Ultimately, I think I felt ready, but wasn’t actually ready. I went back to full time at that office job.

But we’re calling it a false-start. I tried last year and honestly, I failed. But guess what I’m doing this year? Quitting my job! I’m ready to go again, I have a few more plans, and a lot more worry, and I’m SO excited to put the things I learned last year into practice.

So what’s with all this talk of my failures? Well the next two Wednesdays, I’ve got two posts about life and failure coming at you– I just wanted to let you know that hey, I’ve failed in big ways, too.

What about you? Where have you failed? Are you ready to try again?