Everyone has experienced failure at some point in their lives. What matters is how you react and what you learn from it. After all, many successful people have failed big time before succeeding. Some famous examples include: Walt Disney, Stephen King, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling or even Bill Gates. And there are many others… You might not necessarily aim for so much fame (I know I don’t) but this is applicable to everyone!
Failure is part of success
I think it is actually very important to fail in life. It helps you build strength and resilience, which are amazing qualities to have. The world is full of “successful failures”. So let’s just acknowledge it when it happens and turn it into a positive. My life is full of failures… Although I feel a lot more proud than ashamed when I look in the rear-view mirror. Let me give you 4 examples from my personal experience.
1. I’ve been in several long-term relationships
For some it would actually be an achievement, especially for those who don’t manage to keep a relationship alive for a more than a few weeks. But if you invest several years in a relationship, how can you not see it as a failure when it ends?
I had to recover from 4 difficult breakups in my adult life. Each time, I initially thought they were “the one”. But then I eventually walked away when I realised the relationship was broken, I didn’t see any way to turn things around. It was like the candle in my heart suddenly stopped burning. To me, it was always a brave decision to make, because society constantly pressures you to be in a relationship. As a result, some people would avoid being single at all costs. I’d rather be single than with the wrong person by my side.
My learnings? My past experiences taught me so much about what I wanted and needed, but also what I couldn’t tolerate in a relationship. I met the one who was “husband material” to me, hence why I’m marrying him (hopefully) this year!
2. I never managed to keep the weight off
Now this could be the situation most people can relate to. Who can “naturally” maintain a healthy weight anyway? Not many. In my situation, I succeeded in losing more than 20 kilos 4 times in my adult life already. Is that a success or a failure? Probably both.
I would consider it a full success when I manage to keep it off permanently. I wouldn’t have had to do it all again if I didn’t put the weight back on… 4 times. But I never gave up or accepted to stay overweight. I never gave myself excuses, such as: “Oh well, maybe some people are not meant to be lean”, the classic “I have heavy bones” or even “I’d rather eat whatever I want, even if it means I put my health at risk”.
My learnings? I’ve just lost 20 kilos in the past 6 months. Yes, it’s the 4th time I’ve done it. But this time, I know it’s different. I learnt from my previous experiences and identified why it never lasted long. If you’re following this blog, you already know what long-term eating habits I’m putting in place to stay healthy. Stay tuned for more weight loss & weight maintenance related posts in the coming months!
3. I changed my career path several times
I grew up being convinced I wanted to become a doctor. So when I finished high school, I knew exactly what university to go to. But I failed the 1st year final exam and at the time I was devastated. It felt like my childhood dreams were all my pure imagination, I didn’t turn them into reality… I then realised I failed because I didn’t want it enough. I was young and immature. Why would I even want to become a doctor? In hindsight, I was living a lie. I liked the honourable aspect of this occupation, but I couldn’t have coped emotionally with everything it involves. Today the pandemic has confirmed what I already knew: I’m glad I’m not a doctor.
But finding my way wasn’t straightforward. Initially, I turned to programming, thinking: “At least if a computer dies, it’s not a big deal”. Truth is it’s extremely difficult to know what you should be doing when you’re in your early 20s. I found myself in a geek world I didn’t feel I belonged to. Was it still not the right path for me? It is even harder to accept you’ve made the wrong decision when it’s the second time already. After that, I had no choice but to make it right. Finally, I opted for sales & marketing and 5 years later I completed my Master’s degree. I was 4 years older than my schoolmates.
My learnings? I strongly believe that because I failed before, I had even more to prove. I enrolled in a sandwich course, alternating between studies and apprenticeship every year until graduation. It was hard but it was the best way to get work experience and also start my life without debts – the companies paid for my school fees. This is not something I would have even considered doing if I didn’t go through my previous disappointments.
4. I failed a job interview last month
When I quit my last job in September 2019, it was to travel in Southeast Asia & the Pacific. It was supposed to be a 6-month sabbatical only (it’s been more than a year now). Of course it was a risk, you never know what to expect upon your return. How about a worldwide pandemic? You get the picture, the job market is not what it used to be.
I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to rush to find a job. So I’m focusing on finding the right job that will positively impact my mental health. I thought I found it when I was interviewing for this company recently. I got to the 4th and final stage of the process, but a few days later I found out I didn’t get the role.
My learnings? It’s a normal reaction to be disappointed and feel discouraged when you receive bad news. This is my most recent failure. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, it still hurts every time you do. But I know better now, my mind is powerful and I’m not going to let that negative experience impact my energy. And I do believe everything happens for a reason.
It’s too easy to enter a negative loop
Not everyone has the mental strength to keep trying until they succeed. The way I picture it is a bit like Alice in Wonderland when she falls into that never-ending rabbit hole. If you let negativity take away the best of you, it becomes even harder to recover from failure. I know that if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s definitely not easy. But it’s a learning curve.
Last week, I received an email from a recruiter. She was asking me if I was interested in one of the vacancies she was working on. I never get too excited when I receive emails from recruiters, because I know from experience they never fully grasp your profile. So of course the vacancy didn’t fit my skills whatsoever. Something in her signature made me tick though. There was a quote saying: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. Life can send you signs… You just have to be attentive and notice them.
If you fall, get back up right away
My piece of advice will not be rocket science I’m afraid. I’m sure you’ve heard of the proverb: “If you fall off the horse, get back on every single time”. I would like to insist on how important it is to keep going in life. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What matters is that you got back up one more time than you fell…
Who needed to hear these stories today? Don’t forget to share it to whoever needs to stay motivated around you!
Big Girl x
This is so true, failure is like a part way to success
Yes, we wouldn’t truly appreciate success if we never failed anyway!
Totally agree with you. when we look at what seems like a failure from a totally different prospective; we may end up embracing and loving it! Love the reality of your examples and stating lessons learned:) Great post.
I guess it’s easier to relate to my stories rather than famous people’s stories! 🙂
Nice and inspiring. Our motivation and inspiration lies within ourselves. Well written
So true, it’s like a switch we need to make and no one else can enable it for us…
Thoroughly enjoyed this and was instantly drawn in by the title I truly live reads like this
Thanks! I’m planning to write more about topics like this x
Thanks for sharing this! It really inspired me.
You’re welcome, thanks for stopping by!
Failure is part of the journey to success. The earlier you embrace is as a learning tool, the better. Thanks for sharing this great and inspiring post.
Yes, that’s the (only) way forward!
This article made me think of the quote from Serena Williams; “A champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” Loved reading this x
I love quotes like this and I completely agree with this one! Thanks for sharing it 🙂
Very good points here. Every experience good or bad is such a learning experience. I think as I get older this is revealed to me time and time again. Thanks for sharing!
We get wiser by getting older, that’s for sure 🙂
It is interesting how I can look back at my mistakes now and see the path that has led me to where I am today. No regrets!
That’s awesome! It’s a great feeling to feel proud of what you accomplished in life, especially if it wasn’t easy!