How is that for a bold statement? You are probably inclined to disagree. I don’t blame you. But in this moment, I feel that it is true. There is no such thing as failure.
Failure is a mindset. The feeling that you didn’t accomplish your goal, a task, some important milestone, that you failed at life in a totally generic way. Whatever it is you consider failure, or that society might consider failure, it really is just a mindset.
Suffering a setback doesn’t mean you failed. It feels like it, sure. But only for as long as you allow it to. Are you just going to dwell on your perceived failure or are you going to try again?
Setbacks tend to be temporary. You didn’t achieve the goal that was set for you or that you have set for yourself. Okay. Noted. Now, let’s move on, shall we?
Any goal or milestone is arbitrary anyway. What does it matter if you reach the goal today or tomorrow? In the grand scheme of things, who is possibly going to care a year from now? Or even in a month or next week.
Depending on your work or whatever your daily life comprises, there are always little things that need to get done or that we need to accomplish. They can pile up and eventually may even feel overwhelming.
But do I want to live my life this way? Do I want to just go through a daily to-do list and tick things off until the next item looms? And if I fail to tick an item off (never mind the reason), does that truly need to make me feel like a failure?
Who tells me what I need to accomplish and why do I feel I need to listen to that person (even if it is myself)? What difference does it make?
Well, yes, having goals is important. It provides us with purpose, which is a good thing. It depends on the goals, though. If I had laundry on my to-do list today and for some reason fail to do it, nobody is going to care if I end up doing it tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just talking about doing chores or having a bunch of things on your to-do list that you need to achieve, complete or tick off.
Even if your goal is a bigger one, such as paying off debt by a certain date, or getting married and having children by 35, or finally changing careers to work in your dream job.
What happens if you don’t pay off your debt by August 31st? Are you going to feel awful about it? Potentially guilty, or like a failure? What if you pay off your debt by September 30th, instead? Still feeling like a failure?
Having set the date of August 31st is not the wrong strategy, mind you. It’s a good thing to have such a deadline because it does help you achieve that goal. But if you miss your target by a month or even three months doesn’t matter. It matters that you keep working at it.
Same with your desire to have a family eventually. You can’t plan life according to the age you are at. You’re not undesirable or a failure for not having managed to find a partner you want to marry and have children with by a certain age. Unless you are happy to settle for the wrong person just to achieve that goal. But keep in mind that you are likely to become rather unhappy in the long run, potentially screwing up your children and eventually divorcing anyway.
Not achieving a goal, a target, a milestone or whatever doesn’t mean you failed or are a failure. You suffered a setback. So, what next?
Are you going to try again and keep working at it? Are you going to take a look at your goals and redefine them to make them more achievable or realistic? Are you going to rethink your priorities? Are you going to learn from the mistakes you may have made along the way?
Yes, it is possible to fail. That doesn’t mean you are a failure. What you end up doing next is what matters.