It’s Time to Redefine Your Definition of Failure

So many of us get stuck in a hole because we have failed or are afraid of failing. So what do we do? We stay within our boring little comfort zones. We stay sterile and safe and risk averse—in life, in career, in journeys, in love. We can’t fail in there, right?

For a long time, I was incredibly afraid of failure. I always listened to what other people told me to do and abided religiously by the rules set for me. I didn’t dare to consider deviating from the path that was expected of me. Unbeknownst to myself, I was deeply afraid of anything new, different, unexpected, unplanned. I was afraid of having to make decisions for myself and failing. I was afraid of the unknown.

But, little did I know I was already failing myself.

Failure does not mean diving headfirst into the unknown and emerging ‘unsuccessful’. Failure is to not embrace the unknown at all; to stay home. True failure is to allow your deepest desires to be stymied by uncertainty and fear.

It’s time to stop being so afraid of mundane failures. A life without failure is a life without love, ecstasy and growth. Let’s redefine what failure actually means.

Failure is not a grade. To fail a test is not a failure, it is a learning experience. To be ‘let go’ from your job is not a failure, it is an opportunity to reassess and grow in a new direction. To start a business that yields little profit is not a failure, it is a lesson. All of these things can be unpleasant, but they are not failures.

The only failure that exists is a life inauthentically lived. When you do not trust your inner instincts, when you do not embrace who you are, you are failing. So, allow your individuality to shine through. Live authentically. If you are unapologetically you, you may stumble, but you will never be inauthentic. Your only job on this earth is to be you. Be true to that purpose.

Allow yourself to fail. We all have small, mundane failures. In reality, we should call them hiccups. We may take a few steps backwards, but there is always learning, growth, a glimmering lining. If we do not sink into the mire of “failure” and succumb to negative thinking, any hiccups we have are fleeting.

In the face of failure hiccups, be bold and fearless. Go start a business, a podcast, a dance company. Self-publish a book. Go back to school. Take your first boxing class. Go on a multi-day hike by yourself. Let yourself free-fall into small risks. Yes, you’ll probably be unsuccessful a handful of times. But if you do not give yourself the space and opportunity to fail at something, you are already failing. Every small hiccup in life allows us to grow. The more failure hiccups you have, the richer and more diverse your life will be.

Regret is not failure. We all have regrets in life. I would know, I have plenty. But I also know that all the things I regret have served a greater purpose. I have learned a lot about myself through my failures and regrets, even though it was not always in the most pleasant of circumstances. If you regret something, something you feel that you failed, it doesn’t mean your entire existence is a sham. It does mean that you should look a little more introspectively. You should delve into your regret in order to understand it, to accept it and to let it inform your future. While it is not prudent to dwell in the past, our past hiccups and missteps have carved our unique paths in the world. Be grateful for your past failures and be understanding of them. They have made you into the beautiful, evolved person who sits here today.

Every single one of us has experienced failure. Our failures are something to be embraced, not feared. Continue to persevere. Take risks. Live with authenticity and intention. Every small hiccup of failure you experience is a positive sign that you are fully embracing this crazy ride we call life.

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78 comments

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus4 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Elizabeth -
Elizabeth M4 months ago

Many thanks.

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Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven5 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Sharonaway R
Past Member 7 months ago

Thank you for the interesting article.

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Amy C
Amy C7 months ago

its ALWAYs better to be positive than negative, it feel way better at least

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Amy C
Amy C7 months ago

Thank you good perspective

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Dennis H
Dennis Hall7 months ago

Thanks

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