Hello Everybody! Corbit here.
Today I want to talk about failure.
Why are we so afraid of failure? We all know that failure is a part of life, but we go through life trying to avoid it by all means necessary. Then when we inevitably do fail, we feel awful. But I’m here to say that
I don’t want to talk about how failure is an opportunity or a learning experience or even how failure can give you courage.
A lot of people already talk about things like that, and have been for a long time. Here is an article from 2013 from Psychology Today about it.
Sure, I believe all of this – that failure is an important part of life and human existence, and that many failures lead to important successes. But again, that is not what I’m here to talk about.
I want to talk about why trying not to fail is stupid. First let me talk about why we are so afraid of failing.
Why We Are So Afraid Of Failure
If we really parse out what makes us fear failure, we can more easily move past it. We can figure out why we feel so horrible when we fail, and what false ideas we no longer have to listen to. We can go forward into a place of accepting our failures and maybe even feeling at them.
Cancel culture has made making mistakes all or nothing. If someone makes a mistake and gets “cancelled,” anything good they have ever done or ever will do doesn’t matter. I understand if you no longer want to give money to someone, or you modify your opinion of someone when you have more information. But life isn’t just about the mistakes you make.
If you make a mistake that doesn’t mean you will be cancelled. You shouldn’t be too afraid of making mistakes, especially ones that are inconsequential. ESPECIALLY if it can be reversed.
Toxic Hustle Culture
Hustle culture has been conflated into the planning and “getting things done” community. When people hear “planning” they hear “productivity.” When people hear “what are you doing today?” people hear, “what work are you doing today?” This adds to the idea that if you are not working you are not doing something good or successful and you are failing. So that means playing and resting and even reading and learning can feel like failing if you let it.
The failed _____________ ideology
A lot of people are conditioned to believe that if certain things are short lived in their lives, then that part of their life is failed. The terms “failed marriage” and “failed business” and others like them get tossed around like it’s no big deal. There is an idea that if something does not last your entire life, and doesn’t define you as a person, then it is a failure. Language matters – and if you keep saying these things to yourself, you will surely fear failure.
We need to give more credence to the 2-year-businesses and the 5-year careers and the 8- year marriages.
After one changes careers or gets divorced, they don’t have to “start over.” The powers that be would never say that. This is a man-made idea. If you change careers or relationships when you are 40, that doesn’t mean the last few years were a waste. You already did 40 years of living – how could you possibly start over? Just because you end a career or relationship or anything else, that doesn’t mean it was a failure, and it certainly doesn’t define you. Sometimes it just means something better comes along.
Why it is Stupid to Try Not to Fail
Trying not to fail doesn’t come naturally to me. I always want to do things right, and I want to do the best that I can. But I can’t make things perfect.
Failure is Inevitable
As you go through life, you may make some goals and try to achieve them, or you may make routines and try to stick to them. These are both fine things to do, but sometimes the fear of failure can seep in and throw things off completely.
- It can make you disallow yourself to do anything else until you achieve your goal.
- It can make you hate yourself every moment unless you are working towards it.
- You might even hate yourself every moment you are working towards the goal until you achieve it.
- Fear of failure can make you set a routine and every time you don’t stick to it you get mad at yourself or punish yourself.
- The fear may even cause you to avoid trying.
This is no way to think about your life or who you are.
You Can’t Do Everything
In order to succeed at something, you must fail at something else. For example, if you eat pancakes for breakfast, you fail to eat scrambled eggs. Even if hustle culture dictates that we try to do it all, you cannot physically do everything. So you must fail to do things all the time.
Failure is inevitable eventually, so it’s not very healthy to only focus on the failures. That would be a never-ending battle. In fact, you would be ensuring you will fail, reinforcing the fear, and the cycle continues.
What to do instead
When you focus on failure, you ignore all the successes you have along the way. It’s much better to think about your successes. Actions that may help with this could be Tracking or even keeping a Gratitude Journal. Tracking forces you to perform a act every time you have a success, and that will condition you to focus on the successes. Having a gratitude journal can help you keep a bigger picture in mind.
Adjust Your Goals
Don’t be afraid to set different goals. Consider the different possible outcomes, and find a way to be happy in each scenario. If you have to stop doing what you choose to do after a year, will you still have had fun, or learned something, or spent time with the people you love? Consider what you would do next if that outcome would happen. Finish the sentence.
You can’t predict every possible outcome. Perhaps you didn’t predict a pandemic would leave you out of work for over a year. Don’t beat yourself up. Not everything is predictable, and you can’t plan for everything. But you can adjust.
Adjusting your goals may be a rather long and painful process, but it can be very fruitful if you really figure it all out. Consider and reconsider and reconsider again what it is you really want. What are your core values? How do you visualize your life? It should be dynamic. You should look back on your life and wonder what you were thinking 10 years ago. If you are not doing hat you thought you wanted to do when you were 18, congratulations. You are way smarter now.
If you don’t believe your goals should change, you are bound to think you are a failure. Life is not linear. There are twists and turns all over the place. I’ll leave you with a clip from the Steven Universe Episode “Future Vision”
Everyone has the ability to be like Steven, and everyone has the ability to be like Garnet.
No one can see the future. I can see options and trajectories. Time is like a river that splits into creeks, or pools into lakes, or careens down waterfalls. I have the map, and I steer the ship.Garnet, Steven Universe
I hope you have an abundant life full of failures and successes, and you find peace in all of them.
Much Love, Corbit
Here Wendell telling Chris Noble to use an eraser.