Three Things to Process Failure

I can’t really believe it’s the last day of 2016.  I don’t think I’ve hated 2016 as much as the rest of the world has, but I do think it was a surreal year in many ways (“surreal” is Merriam-Webster‘s word of the year, which I think is very fitting!)

There were good things that happened to me this year, like learning how to knit and having some fun travels.  Excluding current events for the time being, I’m sure we can make a list of all the things that made us unhappy this year.  I know I can.  And here’s something that happened to me that can be hard to admit openly:

I failed.

Yep! I failed this year. Multiple times.  I bet you all did too, in some capacity.  And you know what? It’s normal.  And it’s all going to be okay.

Think about that for a couple of moments.

I feel like we’re always supposed to keep this veneer of happiness and perfection, especially with social media.  You know.  Look at how perfect everything is!  EVERYTHING IS GOOD, GUYS, OKAY?

But we’re not perfect.  We all make mistakes, every single day.

And it’s really important to remember that we NEED to fail sometimes.  There isn’t a harder life lesson learned than one resulting from failure, but it’s the one that sticks with you the most and ultimately makes you a better person.  We should constantly be trying to better ourselves.  I’m sure we all know at least one person who emotionally hasn’t graduated high school even though they’re over 30, and we definitely don’t want to be those people. We want to be able to look back at our former selves, even from a couple of years ago, and identify positive growth.  And while challenging to accept and process at times, failure can help us get on a path to bettering ourselves.

I’ve read so many self-help articles on how not to make mistakes, or how to bounce back after making a mistakes, but what about…processing failure?  That’s just as important, right?

Here are a couple of tips that helped me recharge and refocus on what I needed to do to improve after experiencing failure.

  1.  Admit that you can’t make everyone happy.  I think it’s natural to want to please other people, especially at work.  It’s important, to a point, to reflect on criticism that you receive from other people.  It’s really difficult to step outside yourself and be objective about criticism, but ultimately, that will help you improve and grow.  But sometimes, no matter what you do or how matter hard you try, someone will still dislike you or be unhappy with your choices.  Move on from those people.
  2. Take time to unpack your emotions.  Failure sucks.  It can make you feel sad, depressed, and hopeless at times.  It’s ok to let yourself process those emotions.  Finding an outlet in a family member, friend,  or a partner really helps.  Finding an activity that you find meaningful and enjoyable that will allow you to focus on something else while calming your mind.  For me, those activities include yoga, crafting, and running. Journaling also really helped me through some of my challenges.  I didn’t come to the conclusion I needed to right away, but reviewing my journal helped identify patterns and what I needed to do to improve.
  3. Don’t be hard on yourself.  This is easier said than done, because I tend to be VERY hard on myself.  If a mistake happens, then I automatically assume I’m lazy and stupid.  I read good advice once saying that you need to treat yourself like you would any other loved one.  If your loved one came to you wanting advice after failing, would you point your finger at them and call them worthless and stupid? Of course not!  Being hard on yourself only lowers your self-esteem further and does nothing to help you work on your weaknesses.  Be kinder to yourself.  That same objectivity that you take with you into those dreaded performance reviews?  Keep it here.  Accept that you’re a good, intelligent person who is fallible like the roughly 7.5 billion people we share this world with.  Instead of calling yourself names, ask what you can do to improve.

As we move into 2017, let’s take a couple of moments to reflect on the year – what went right?  What didn’t?  For anything that went wrong, what tools can you use to better yourself?

On a personal note, I wanted to thank everyone who has checked out my blog this year.  I can’t wait to share more of my projects and experiences with you in 2017.  Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and please be safe!

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