*Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Curiosity-Driven Life” episode on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast*
Are you a failure? Do you consider yourself to be someone who keeps falling again and again? Ever wondered why? Here are some ideas…
Firstly, it’s not because you don’t focus
Not because you don’t have a passion
Not because you’re broken or wired to be a loser
Not because of your upbringing and background
Not because you’re just bad at it
Not because you’re old
Not because you’re stupid
Not because you’re uncertain or lost or confused
Instead, it could be because…
You’re afraid to try
The biggest failures in life aren’t from those who try and don’t succeed. It’s from those who fail to try at all.
If there’s something in your life that you’re interested in or always dreamed about and wanted for yourself, the only way you truly fail is by not giving it a wholehearted try.
You’re afraid to start again
Then if you have tried before and it didn’t quite work out, you’re failing yourself by not daring to try again.
The saying goes, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” and this is true. However, trying something just once and never trying it again is just as insane to me.
This is the real formula for success: Try it. Fail. Then try again. Fail again. Look back and analyse. Make adjustments. Try again. Fail again. Make a change. Try again. Succeed.
You’re afraid to be vulnerable
It’s scary to try something. We’re putting ourselves out there and setting ourselves up for something that might well fail. And fail miserably. Sometimes, these pursuits and failures are on full display and so we feel naked and vulnerable.
But the simple truth is, you must dare to be vulnerable in order to succeed. Dare to venture out of your comfort zone. To leave the shore and set out to sea. There is a real power in vulnerability.
You’re afraid of risk
The same goes for risk. Risks are scary, uncertain, and rife with the unknown. You’re daring to leave what you know and take a leap of faith. But great things come from leaps of faith. Better to jump and fall, than constantly look over at the other side with sadness and envy.
This is not to say that you are foolish for never taking risks. I get it, some people have great responsibilities so risk-taking just isn’t appropriate. But there is such a thing as calculated risks, where you give a real think before leaping. It is totally possible to take risks the smart way, by planning, saving, getting help, or other.
You don’t know yourself
Many people don’t know themselves; not really, not honestly. This sets you up to fail because you may be pursuing all the wrong things in all the wrong ways.
Getting to know yourself will provide you with useful information as to what you actually want, what you’re good and bad at, what you are interested in, and what you’re capable of.
You don’t self-explore
Self-exploration is a beautiful thing. Thankfully, more young people are doing this. They are taking the time to question who they are, what they want, and what they’re interested in.
Many people fail to test their own limits. They fail to expand their minds and get in touch with their soul. They fail to look within. They fail to follow their interests with curiosity. Failure to do this ensures you remain in a small box where you never reach your full potential.
A closed mind does not make for a full life.
You don’t get curious
As I say, with self-exploration comes curiosity. Some of us have interests and ideas but never dare to explore them with curiosity. To just go with the flow and see where it leads us. Failure to do this means failure to find that wonderland beyond the shore.
You’re too busy
When we’re adults with jobs, children and mortgages, it is easy to become busy. You’re torn doing this thing and that thing. Well, busyness sets a lot of us back from reaching peak success.
We can be fooled into thinking we have made it, simply because we have a house, family, and job. These are all amazing achievements and worthy of our time and energy. But taking the time to see what else you may be capable of doing is important, too.
This doesn’t mean that you should neglect your responsibilities or feel bad about your life. I mean you should never decide “I’ve made it” and stop following your dreams, interests, and goals.
Over time, these things change, of course. But allow yourself the space and time to be quiet, less busy, and inspired. There is gold in these pockets of time; we can realise something that we wouldn’t when we’re too busy and life is noisy.
You fear failure
I’ve briefly said this already. People fail more from fearing failure than they do from pitfalls and mistakes from trying.
You listen to the wrong people
Many of us live our lives by other people’s rules. Society, our parents, our peers, our partners, our teachers, our bosses, and so on. Don’t fail yourself by falling into the trap of crafting a life that isn’t for you.
You don’t do what you want to do
Lastly, (I could probably say many more points but I’ll stop here) we have the failure to know and do what you want. As I said firstly, it’s not uncertainty or feeling lost that makes you a failure – we all go through those periods. But what makes you a failure is not giving yourself the time and space and energy to try to find what you want.
What I mean is, have you ever given any thought to what you want? What you really want? What your purpose is? What would give your life meaning? What is meant for you? What your soul wants for you? What would make you happy to get out of bed each day?
It’s okay not to know yet; what’s not okay is not caring or failing to ask yourself the question in the first place. Then once you know, you must do that thing otherwise you are still failing yourself.
Bonus ways we fail:
- Giving up
- Self-sabotage, procrastination, perfectionism
- Thinking we have more time than we do
- Lack of effort
- Poor self-motivation, management, and discipline
At the end of the day, failure isn’t what we’ve been brought up to think it is. Failure isn’t a failed test or bad grade. Failure is when we give up. Failure is when we fail ourselves. Failure is when we decide not to try. Simple.
So, maybe, just maybe, you’re not a failure after all…
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