Failure is a very unpleasant feeling. Unfortunately, failure tends to be a fairly common occurrence and often times we may not realize that we’ve failed until much later.
For instance, there are many times I fail at being healthy. I try to keep a regular routine of exercise and a healthy diet but there are many times when I fail at following this routine. Acknowledging this failure typically happens after gaining weight, losing endurance or feeling more fatigued throughout the day.
There have been times where I’ve failed at being a good partner or friend to another. I might not realize unhealthy habits that are hurting the relationship. My tendency to focus more on my perspective, might have the consequence of not realizing the impact of my actions on a loved one.
Yet, I’ve had many successes from my failures. I may have made mistakes on the way, but I have eventually succeeded in getting to where I’d like to be. Failure can have an unnecessary bad reputation. Yes, failing can be tough but failure often has positive repercussions. Being able to fail can ultimately lead you down a path of happiness and create a more satisfying life. Below are necessary ways that we all have to fail to be able to succeed.
1. Failure the first time you try something. The first time you do something will most often not go according to plan. You will most likely fail the first time you try to do something. You might have an amazing idea for a book you want to write, but without developing your writing techniques or researching the best ways to market your book, that book may never flourish or even be finished. Many of us run at the first sign of failure. However, failing is a great learning opportunity. For instance, I know a writer who published her first book quite quickly. She was in a rush to make a name for herself and wanted the world to see what she had to offer. Although she got her book published, the book brought very little joy to her. She’s not even proud of her book and views the book as a failure. However, this experience showed her the importance of taking your time, crafting a book you are proud to share with the world and holding onto your unique voice, even if that voice may not be popular at this time.
Learn from your failings. Embrace flexibility and openness. You can achieve your goals but things may not go according to your plans or follow your time lines. The beginning may be rocky. Your business may not start generating profits for months after you would like it to. Your book may not be selected for publication for years. You can pass this class but you need to invest in tutoring and outside support. The one thing I love about failing the first time, is I understand my current weaknesses. Failure tells me where I need to focus my efforts on and what I need to be wary of. I’m a procrastinator by nature. I’ve failed at some things in my life simply because I allowed procrastination to get in the way. Failing has allowed me to take steps to not allow procrastination to get in the way.
Use failure as an opportunity to figure out how you need to adapt. Identify the lessons that you have learned from failure so that you can approach your goal again, but succeed or perform it more easily and efficiently.
2. Failure to figure out what is best for you. Not many of us have the benefit of being born into the world knowing how to succeed and what will make us happy. We have to go out into the world and experience different things. In other words, we have to perform trial and error in many aspects of our lives to figure out what we actually want. You might need to pursue a degree in law to realize if you truly want to become a lawyer. Your first year in law school, you may realize that you aren’t as passionate about that career as you thought and you may end up pursuing something else instead.
You might want to open up your own restaurant. You decide to take some culinary classes but realize that there are many errors you are failing at. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start your own restaurant business, but does mean that by failing at something you have exposed some weaknesses that need to be addressed before succeeding at your restaurant business.
Your last relationships may not have ended so well. Maybe you dated the wrong people. Perhaps you made some mistakes that you wish you could take back. These mistakes show you the kind of partner you really want to be with and the kind of partner you want to be for someone else. Failing at a relationship can lead you to having a successful relationship. You’ll have a better idea of what you want in a partner. Even if you decide to reconcile with an ex, you’ll likely understand the areas that need improvement before a relationship can successfully work this time around. You can also work on some aspects of your life that need to be resolved before you can have a healthy relationship such as trust issues, jealousy, anger management and so on.
Sometimes we get too attached to an idea or a way that life should go. Failing at a relationship can make us feel like we will never find a loving relationship. Failing at finding a job can make us feel like nobody will hire us. Failing at certain aspects of learning a language can make us feel like we should just quit since we will never be good at it. Failure allows us to realize our weaknesses, strengths, areas of improvement or question if we truly want something. Use failure as an opportunity to question what you really want out of life. Failing at one path may be a doorway to something even more amazing. When one door closes, another door opens. Use these experiences to find out what is best for you.
3. Failure at being confident. Truthfully, you don’t always need confidence to succeed. There will be times where you feel on top of your game, prepared and ready for whatever comes ahead. There will also be other times where you feel a bit insecure and not completely confident in yourself. During the initial phases of applying for jobs, I typically feel less confident. I’m not sure if anyone will be interested in my resume to interview me. During this stage, I may not have had any interviews yet and feel out of practice and am a bit scared of the process. However, once I start interviewing, my confidence begins to increase. By the time I’m about to get my first job offer, I’m already feeling confident.
Balance is necessary. Not being confident may inhibit you from stepping out of your comfort zone or encourage negative and false internal thoughts. Being overly confident can be just as damaging. Too much confidence may make you feel extremely disappointed when the outcome does not match what you expected. For instance, a fellow improvisor auditioned at an improvisational comedy school to skip a level. She was very confident in her ability, had been doing comedy for years and felt she could easily skip a level. Unfortunately, the teachers told her after she auditioned that they felt she would benefit from a refresher from the basics and suggested she start from level one. Her confidence tanked and she started to feel like she was a terrible comedian as a result. She is a great comedian but the feedback hurt more than it should, based on the fact that she was overly confident.
Strive to find a good balance of confidence. There are situations where it is okay to not be confident. I’ll be taking a cake decorating course in about a week. I have no idea what to expect. I’ve done some research, have decorated cakes in the past but I have a ton to learn. I have enough confidence to understand that if I work hard, I can properly decorate a cake. However, I don’t have so much confidence that I believe I’ll walk into the class and be very prepared, more so than the other students and decorate a perfect looking cake. When I first started volunteering abroad, I had 0 expectations for myself. Not being overly confident about the process allowed me to go into the experience not trying to make a huge impact, but to allow the organization to make an impact on me. I was able to find areas where my skills were best utilized and embraced opportunities such as sponsoring a child or helping to build a preschool. Find a balance for your own confidence. There are situations where it is okay and even beneficial to not be super confident and overly prepared. Sometimes inexperience and viewing a situation as a learner will help you progress in ways you have never imagined.
4. Failure at pleasing people. All of us have a desire to be accepted, but allowing the pursuit of acceptance to take full control will only drive you crazy. Truthfully, you can’t please everyone. You can’t even always please the people who will always love and be there for you. At some point, your parents will disagree with a choice you are making. Your partner may deeply love you, but there will be times when your partner gets upset at you. The friendships in your life may last for many, many years but there will be times when your friends may not feel you are making the best choices.
You will meet people who don’t like you and people who seem to always focus on the negatives rather than the positives. There will also be times when living authentically requires you to not please other people. Following your own unique path may result in people criticizing and doubting your life choices. People may not be as supportive as you wish them to be. Others may not be able to appreciate your talents. You might be doing something amazing, that many people can identify with, but others may not be able to see the beauty in your ambitions.
Trust in yourself even when you fail at pleasing everyone in your life. There will be times when you need to follow your own path regardless of the risks. Along the way, some of your loved ones may be doubtful, but that’s fine. Stand by what you believe in. You may encounter critics or people who can only see the negatives, but that’s okay too. Continue to live authentically and follow through on your path. Understand that the path to pursuing your dreams may not be easy or filled with supporters. Even your supporters may have concerns at times. Keep going and stand true to what you believe in.
5. Failure to go through life alone. When I was younger, I felt like I could only really rely on myself. I found it to be a weakness to ask for help from someone or to let people support me. There will be a time where you will fail to navigate life alone. All of us will go through tough times where life seems hopeless and painful. You will need people to help carry you over these hurdles.
Other times you may need people to assist with a project. I have a friend who is an amazing graphic designer and she has helped me in creating a logo for a website and has given me amazing advice that saved me thousands of dollars. Your friends want to help you. Just as you have a desire to use your skills and knowledge to help other people, other people have the necessary skills to help you. Take advantage of the opportunities that are generously given by others. Allow a colleague to proofread your manuscript. Ask your coworker if they would like the opportunity to help you on an important project. Let your partner know how much you value and desire his feedback. Ask a talented friend if she would be interested in starting a business with you. Be part of the team and allow other team members to utilize their skills effectively. Receiving help only means that the process will go quicker, more efficiently and that you’ll strengthen your relationships in the process. Being able to coordinate a team effectively is a great skill that a person needs to effectively be a leader.
Whether you need someone to hold your hand during the tough times or to share their knowledge to help you create a better product, understand that you don’t have to go through life alone. Walking a lonely path may initially look cool, but often times its a poor choice that will set you up for unnecessary obstacles, pain and a higher risk of failing in your pursuits.
6. Failure makes you less afraid of failure. The beautiful thing about initially failing, is that you become stronger. Going into a new opportunity, we want to be strong and ready for whatever lies ahead. However, the fear of failure prevents us from taking that next step. A couple of years ago I realized a big error of my thinking. I was waiting for myself to not feel fear to start doing something. I wanted to feel unafraid at doing something before doing it. Truthfully, not fearing failure comes from trying and failing anyway. To not be afraid of failing, I had to face the failure head on. That doesn’t mean I need to set myself up for failure or expect to fail. Instead I needed to go into an experience knowing that there’s a possibility that I might fail.
When you fail, you realize that life goes on when you fail. You realize that everything will be okay and that things do work themselves out. You embrace a beautiful realization that you are strong enough to pick yourself up and keep going regardless of your failures. The fear of failure will always be in your life until you take the risk and fail. Yes, the experience may be unpleasant. You might be disappointed but eventually you’ll realize that everything will be okay and that you are strong enough to keep yourself going. Allow failure to make you realize that there’s nothing you need to fear from failure. You don’t need to fear failure because you have all the necessary tools within you to make the situation okay.
Being afraid of failure can hold you back from some amazing opportunities. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Every one of us has failed at some points, and failure may be just what you need to succeed. What are some ways that you have allowed fear of failure to hold you back from succeeding? How has failure given you opportunities for success?