It’s been a busy two weeks in our house, but I’m slowly finding routine again.  Today’s topic of the class I’m taking: What’s my failure philosophy?

If you’d have asked me in highschool, it would have been something like, “I can’t fail!”  I had to have the grades.  I had to be involved in everything possible to the point of stressing and exhausting myself silly.  I had to get the scholarships to go to college (there was no other path for me in my mind), and I cried when I got my first B.  Failure was not an option, and anything less than perfection was failure!

Then I reached the goal of college graduation and becoming a licensed teacher  and was left wondering, “Now what?”

I had years of doing things I hated, staying in situations that weren’t good for me, hanging on to relationships that were not worth my worry because I still carried around that idea that failure was bad.  If I quit and walked away and pursued my own happiness, it meant that I failed at that situation or relationship or way of doing things…and avoiding failure was more important than my own happiness. Granted…there were good times…but I spent too much of my time worrying over what wasn’t going well to really enjoy what was going right.

Do I still struggle with this?  Absolutely!  But…I am learning that failure doesn’t have to be bad.  Walking away from things and people that are not bringing out my best self are not bad.  I still have to do things I don’t necessarily like…but if it’s truly causing me to lose sleep or be sick, then I have to ask myself what my ultimate goal is.  If it’s that I just don’t want to fail…well…failure in these instances may be just what I need to get to where I’m meant to be.

Failure can not only teach us what NOT to do, but it can help us have to find our creativity again and look for new and more successful ways of reaching our goal.  Failure in friendships/relationships may help us to have to get out and meet new people that will push us forward in life.  Failure in a class or learning pursuit may help us to recognize our strengths and weaknesses.  It may also help us to reflect on our own motivation and effort. Failure to manage money may just be the catalyst we need to learn more about finances, investments, and living simply within our means. Failure to reach a fitness goal may force us to look at what we’re doing and see the other options available. Failure is not bad.

I like to picture failure as a reference point rather than a finish line. If we get to that point and stop and only look back and see what went wrong (which is what many of us–myself included–can find ourselves doing), then failure IS a bad thing.  It becomes that finish line. However…if we can get to that point, look back and see what went wrong, and then TURN AROUND AND LOOK FORWARD—failure can be the most beautiful point on our journey because it is where success really begins.

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