Why You Should Resolve to Fail

It's the first week of January and already many of you have no doubt failed to keep your New Year resolutions. Not to fear! You've done exactly what you should have done: you failed.

I realize failure is, in our culture, the other F word, but it can also be another word that starts with F: freeing.

Failure, unfortunately, has a lot of power. It scares us so much it can actually prevent us from taking action and when we do act, it can stop us in our tracks and force retreat where there was once persistence.

Failure seems to be lurking around every corner. When we encounter it, like say while eating that pint of Haagen-Dazs peanut butter and chocolate ice cream you promised yourself you'd lay off of for the month of January, we can let it define us—even hijack our thoughts and emotions with all sorts of ugly word associations.

The problem is we find failure to be an end instead of what it really is—a beginning. Every failure is the beginning of a process—a process that requires failure to learn. If we can begin to see failure for what it is—as protective and helpful and not an exit door in the hallway of life, we might be able to embrace it.

And embracing failure is all you need to do to find freedom - a place where mishaps don't crush you but invigorate you. How do you embrace failure? Aim to fail. Put yourself in a situation at the edge of your comfort zone. Resolve to try something and really suck at it. You might learn something new and interesting about yourself—like, half the fun is in the effort or that you can be knocked down and get back up.

Or in the immortal words of Samuel Beckett, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

Don't fail to check out Alicia's blog, www.aliciamorga.com.

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  • Jim Geffert

    My first manager out of college called himself a "successful failure." He told me that baseball players fail 7 out of 10 times and are successful. It helped me gain a perspective that I had never considered before.

  • Alicia Morga

    Great story! I only wish I had learned the same perspective sooner. :)


  • Christine Maingard

    Hm...yes, some of this may be true, but it's not quite as simple as that. Trying, failing and trying again, and learning from it in the process only works when there is commitment to succeed. Human nature has a tendency to focus on the negative and most people give up even before the question of what one could learn from it crosses their minds. Take the New Year's resolution of becoming fitter and healthier, for instance. It is a well known fact that less than 10% of people who join up at fitness centre or for an exercise program continue for any length of time (that is, beyond a few weeks at best).

    Why do New Year's resolutions rarely work? It is not only that we often lack - for whatever reasons - the ongoing commitment that is required to meet our personal goals. It is also because we commonly fail to truly question the purpose for it in the first place and how it connects with ourselves. As a result, as soon as we think we are failing, we give up. Psychology has shown that we usually focus on the downside of not achieving our goals. A sense of loss of self-control adds to this and rather than starting anew every single day, we give up instead. This, of course, is intimately linked to our inner critical voice, our negative self-talk.

    So what's the solution? It is reflecting first whether or not a resolution we make contributes towards achieving our goals and why it is important that we stick to it. When we truly believe it does, then the committing to it and staying committed becomes more important. Only then can failure be the powerful catalyst for trying again and again and again.

    Christine Maingard, Author of 'Think Less, Be More' - http://www.thinklessbemore.com http://www.mindfulstrategies.c...

  • Michael Deutch

    I'm not sure that I'd make failure my goal. Supporting a culture of failure though is definitely important.

    A couple of my favorite failure quotes:
    Thomas Edison: I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
    Robert F. Kennedy: Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

  • Alicia Morga

    Great quotes. I think our culture needs more persistent reminders that it's okay to fail.