Failing to succeed

There are days when I can’t do it all.

No one can, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. And it surely doesn’t stop me from repeatedly falling short. If you’re anything like me, you see this as a failure.

Last week, I couldn’t make it to the post office before closing time – personal errand failure. I didn’t answer any personal emails until the end of the work week – time management failure. I couldn’t get a source to call me back or open the door for me – professional failure. I made a smoothie for dinner instead of a real meal – delicious, but still my latest domestic failure.

I’m hard on myself. I want to succeed. When I make a mistake or fail to follow through, I kick myself for days.

hairCaught in the act: pulling out my hair on assignment. Photo by Annette Lein

It’s normal to fail. I certainly learn more from my mistakes than when I tackle something correctly on the first go-around. I remember what I did wrong.

So let me share a few fabulous failures and flaws (and corresponding lessons) with you:

Never make an offer that you aren’t willing to follow through on.  You’ve never been to “fill-in-the-blank-city?” Why don’t you come with me?  Trust me on this one. Don’t offer to be nice. Don’t say it unless you mean it. Otherwise, the weird chick you met while volunteering at the thrift shop could commandeer your upcoming trip.

If something sounds off, it probably is. It’s ok to question people if you think something sounds wrong. My first big professional failure – a source flat-out lied to me. And I fell for it, in part because I didn’t want him to think I didn’t know the ins and outs of local politics. He knew I didn’t, and he took advantage.

It’s OK to ask for help. I love to bake, but I can’t get cupcakes right to save my life and I refuse to ask for help. As a result, I don’t even like to EAT cupcakes.  Hmm. Maybe that’s actually for the best.

Speak up for yourself and your loved ones. If you don’t do it, who will?

My mother often will tell me that no one is perfect, that we all grow and evolve based on our experiences. Among her famous quotes:

I won’t make the same mistakes as my parents did. I learned from those. I’ll make new ones.

True enough, mom.

Now I want to hear from you. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a  mistake? What advice would you give others?

12 thoughts on “Failing to succeed

  1. I am very guilty of making offers I’m not necessarily willing to follow through on…I mean, when I say the words, I really do mean it “Oh yeah, you can come stay with me!” I’ve also been on the receiving end of the grand gesture offer…still waiting on more than one of those!! 😉
    My biggest piece of advice that can prevent a lot of problems is to say what you mean, always. If you think you have to kind of hedge on things, keep yo’ mouth shut!!

  2. Oh man your comments on your failures last week rung very true for me. I find that I often don’t balance life as well as I could or should. There have been time where dry cleaning or packages sat in the back of my car for days (weeks?) when I couldn’t get to the respective store before they closed.

    As cheesy as it sounds, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from mistakes is to forgive yourself and move on. Life is too short to harbor all kinds of negative feelings and anxiety!

    • It’s wonderful to know that I am not alone in my failures. And there are so many more! I didn’t even tackle the lack of bathroom scrubbing and the state of my shower right now. Or the fact that there’s a small(ish) toppled tree in my yard I need to remove. Yeah. I need more hours.

      That’s such a good lesson to share, Christine. Thank you! I’m not the best at forgiving myself when I mess something up, but you are so right! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Yes yes yes. As you know, this week has been crazypants and while it’s definitely not been a failure for me, it has been a major stress that I’m trying to get through the best I can and know how. I keep reminding myself that everything I’m doing within each particular moment is for the greater good and I’m working toward an positive outcome, even though the task at hand might be daunting. It helps to remind myself that by doing things that might be difficult now, it will eventually lead to a happy finish line! Marathon, not a sprint, and all that!

  4. I’m living the No-Guilt Life after years of beating myself up. We can’t do it all all the time. At least not well. It’s ok to fail. Really, I promise! You learn how to pick yourself back up right? 😉 Hang in there I hope you have a better week!

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