If At First You Don’t Succeed…Fail, Fail, Again

When’s the last time you let yourself fail? I’m willing to bet it wasn’t the end of the world. I’m also willing to bet you learned something from it. It’s the people who don’t even try because they are too scared of failing that are going to find themselves unhappy. Where did this fear come from? Why has our society made us so afraid of failing that we choose not to even try?

How many successful people do you think got to where they are without some hiccups along the way? I refuse to believe any of them got there with zero screwups. I think the way we become better people is by failing and learning from it. As a society, we have so much patience for failure up until a certain age and then society makes it clear that nothing short of perfect is acceptable. We’re told if we don’t do these very specific steps, (get these great test scores, have a perfect GPA, go to the perfect college, have the best physique, etc.) we’ll never be able to be successful in life.

If we’re not successful, how will we be happy? This idea breeds the fear we all face of not being able to keep up with expectations. It comes from our parents, our teachers, our friends, and eventually, our own brains. Our brains are capable of simulating events so that we don’t even have to experience them. What many people’s brains have convinced them is they will not be able to do whatever it is they are trying to do, perfectly. If they can’t do it perfectly, should they even try? What they do instead, is nothing. From that, they’ve learned nothing and truly experienced nothing. If there is something we really want, something really worth striving to achieve, we’re probably going to have to fail, more than a couple of times, to achieve it. If it is effortless, are we really challenging ourselves and being the best we can be?

This is the reason people are able to find excuses to stay in the same job that’s making them unhappy. This is why we’re able to spontaneously list a plethora of reasons we can’t go on that trip we’ve been wanting to go on. There are so many “what’s if’s” and they are all out of fear. I’ve got my own “what if’s” but the difference is I wonder what would happen if I succeed. I use the fear of failure to help guide me to make the right decisions but I also make sure to fail, responsibly, as much as possible.

I’ve left jobs I wasn’t happy at but I also made sure I had a plan to do it. I’ve come up with some pretty silly cooking ideas and some were not good while others were great! I’ve brewed beers that I knew were potentially above my ability but I also made sure to read and explore them thoroughly before I committed to possibly failing my way through the batch. If we’re not willing to fail, then we’re not willing to grow. If we’re not growing, how are we finding purpose in life. Without purpose, how do we find true happiness? Go find something you’d like to fail at; you’ll be happier for it.

A version of this post was previously published on gofindyourhappy.net and is republished here with permission from the author.

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