As a monumental New Year 2020 approaches, I find myself, as many people I believe, thinking over the past year.
Maybe even thinking over more than just the past year. Some of us are contemplating our lives, all that we've come through, all that might have challenged us, the plans and hopes that we may have for our future, or what we might've done differently.
Heaven knows there's no shortage of theories and professional opinions about what our lives should look like by the time we're 45, or when we should graduate college, what sex we must date, how we should wear our hair, when it is too late to start a family, or how many times a week we must exercise. It's easy to believe some guru must have the perfect answer to get us to our perfect life and if only we found him or her or it and followed their advice...like waking up at 4am, exercising 3 times a week, working harder, being more proactive, following the newest trends on social media...then we could accomplish the goal of our ideal life. And, even though I most definitely believe in self-improvement, in continuous growth, in leaving here as a better person having left the world even slightly better, I believe it is, oftentimes, way too easy to fall short of all of these standards, these ideals.
The question then arises for each of us: when are we failing? And when are we succeeding? Is it possible to ever truly fail and what does real success mean?!?
The dictionary tells us that failure is when there is “an omission of an occurrence or performance.” (Merriam-Webster, 2019) Similar to when we have an expectation for something to occur and yet it hasn’t. Based on this, when we come to believe that something must happen in order for us to experience success and that something doesn't happen, then it’s a failure. Success, by contrast, is defined as a “favorable, or desired outcome.” (Merriam-Webster, 2019)
In the words of Thomas A. Edison: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
And, a favorite by Winston S. Churchill: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Barack Obama: "The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere."
Or, Oscar Wilde: “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”
A common theme arises in how these successful people and countless others view failure – they don’t have a belief that "a failure" is unfavorable - so they don't fear it, or fear moving past it. This doesn't make them irrational, or insensible, since their successes have definitely come through perseverance and work. They approach life with intelligence and confidence, integrity, wisdom and faith, and if they even have such a thing as "a plan," or a direction, they have enough flexibility to succeed in multiple ways. They have a plan A, a plan B if A wields, a plan C to support B, a plan D that takes over when C is exhausted. They simply keep moving. They keep pressing forward whether they see things they believe are favorable, or whether they are up against things that are challenging their beliefs. More importantly, they have no set expectations, or time lines. They work with whatever arises and they don't look to avoid situations that challenge them, they work to embrace them, transform them, grow beyond them, or at the very least, accept them and move forward.
That would mean that, in life, when we believe that every circumstance, every condition, every experience is drawing us closer to a better version of ourselves, our preferred future and desired outcome, then no matter whether it is, pleasant or unpleasant, painful or disappointing, empowering or challenging – a graduation, or a divorce, a break-up or a reunion, a health issue, or financial difficulty, an accomplishment or a disappointment – we can choose whether we have just stumbled onto a failure, or have just encountered a stepping stone.
Whether the Universe is asking us to persevere, to practice patience, to overcome, to transform, to be courageous, to strengthen our faith, and whether we welcome these experiences, or not, we will all have to experience set-backs and challenges in one form or another. And, of course, I truly hope for each of us to experience the immense joys of victories, a great family life, abundance & prosperity, fulfilling professions and jobs, great health, strong & healthy relationships, inner-peace & joy. These go beyond saying! Though, my greatest prayer and hope for all of us for this coming new year, aside from these, is that each of us may take the areas in which we have been challenged the most, stretched the most, and take those alleged failures, remove our expectations, dismantle society's beliefs, sprinkle a dash of faith and a dollop of hope, and press forward to become better human beings and draw from these experiences our greatest, most amazing successes yet! Since, it comes to show that true failure lies only when we fail to press forward and defined as "an abrupt cessation of normal functioning," I hope that this New Year sees us embracing true successes, moving forward, pressing forward, growing and becoming better off as a result, no matter what!
Happy holidays, friends! And a healthy, happy, & prosperous New Year 2020!
P.S. in case you're seeking some practical advice, suggestions, and techniques as to how to actually accomplish this success mindset, check out the next blog post: Success! But, HOW?!