Happy 2022– my hope for you this year is that you fail more!
I realize that’s not your typical new year’s wish but I mean it. 😉
Someone recently asked me about what qualities I attribute my success to. I thought about it, and realized I attribute my success to my ability to fail.
I am (not to toot my own horn here or anything, but toot toot) truly spectacular at failure.
I fail hard, and often, and big – and this, more than anything else, is how I’ve gotten to where I am. I throw myself into things, I take big risks, and I don’t let setbacks make me quit.
And the thing about failure is that it takes you places.
Failing gives you information. It’s the best possible teacher. By failing you can learn what you like and don’t like, want and don’t want, what works and doesn’t work. Trying things gives you feedback, clarity, and (best of all) new ideas.
And you know what doesn’t take you places? Waiting until you have all the right answers.
Perfectionism, paralysis, and fear of failure are all guaranteed to keep you in one place. You don’t get new information and new ideas when you don’t try new shit. No feedback or clarity will be found during the planning and planning (and planning) phase of getting ready to do something.
Why are so many people afraid of failure, then? Why don’t more people throw themselves into new things, learn new skills, and go after their goals with everything they’ve got?
Why do so many people avoid risks and stay stuck?
The answer to this is that too many people learned to associate vulnerability with weakness, and imperfection with shame, and they’re more invested in proving their worth to others than in getting where they want to go in life.
It’s ironic, isn’t it?
The people who succeed the most are the ones who let themselves fail the biggest and most often, because they know their worth has nothing to do with whether or not they fail or succeed at stuff. Meanwhile the people who are most attached to succeeding are terrified to let themselves fail, because they’re afraid it’ll make them look bad.
The endless pursuit to look good to others costs us so much. Everything, really.
The truth is that it’s incredibly vulnerable to let people see your failures, weaknesses, imperfections, and flaws. And trying to come off as perfect and flawless is a way of wearing armor against that vulnerability.
If nobody ever sees you fail, then you can stay in your protected little bubble where maybe… just maybe… you actually are perfect. At least, nobody will ever be able to prove otherwise.
But what’s the payoff of protecting yourself? What’s your reward for staying in a safe little bubble? And what’s even the point of people thinking you’re perfect?
Ultimately there’s very little upside, because:
The lessened vulnerability costs you deeper connections with people,
You miss out on the chance to be who you actually want to be, and get what you actually want in life, and
Nobody actually thinks you’re perfect anyway. (Seriously. Everyone knows you have flaws, no matter how hard you try to hide them.)
Hiding from vulnerability and protecting yourself from failure is a bad deal. You have to spend your whole life defending your bubble, and shining your armor, instead of living your life to its fullest. Plus, only people who are similarly invested in wanting other people to think they’re perfect will be impressed.
With all this in mind, I want to encourage you to fail more in 2022.
Get rejected more often.
Start telling people about your dreams, and going after them.
Open your heart up to heartbreak.
Try things you suck at (and stick them out until you suck a lot less).
Throw yourself into the things you do, instead of holding back a bit so you have an “excuse” when it fails.
Take big risks (and learn how to handle big setbacks without quitting).
Let people see your imperfections, weakness, and failures.
If you want it, keep going. Keep. Going.
Wishing you a New Year full of love, joy, magic, and lots and lots of failure.
PS In a few weeks I’ll be opening enrollment to another round of The Avatars Project! This eight week online course teaches how to use the four body image avatars to move toward body neutrality. I’ll be sharing more details soon, but if this is something you definitely want in on, hit reply to get on the waiting list!