Not everyone comes out of the chute with their life’s goal firmly in mind, and a wonderful plan to get to it, in place. What a surprise! Sometimes, the only way to know what you want to do with your life is to experiment. And experimentation can often lead to failure. And that’s okay!
For whatever cultural reasons, we westerners (or perhaps only we, Americans) seem to hate the concept of failing. We use the term “Loser” as a label indicating that the worth of that person is very low. We ignore the fact that some of our greatest inventors, heroes, and scientists – failed.
Edison is said to have tried hundreds of materials for filaments before finding the one that could reliably hold the current for a light bulb without burning out completely. No one remembers all those failures, they only remember the success. But without what he learned from those failures, there would be no lightbulb associated with the name Edison.
You could argue that his perseverance is what made him a success, and I would agree in part, and add that his failures were the fundamental part of his success.
I don’t expect everyone will be an inventor or a hero or a scientist… but to find out what you want to be (regardless of how old you are) – you will need to experiment and fail. Remember back when you were a kid and in love with everything to do with dinosaurs? If you weren’t THAT kid, think back on what it was that you WERE obsessed with…unicorns, matchbox cars, rocks – whatever.
Now, are you STILL in love with your childhood obsession? No? Did it some how lead you to some other obsession?
Yes? Are you still learning about it, collecting it, involved with it?
Have you dabbled in gymnastics, or oboe, or scouting – only to lose interest? That is GOOD. You experimented and found out a little more about yourself, your likes, passions, and dislikes. Have you decided to write or paint or knit or build furniture, only to lose interest? GREAT! You are experimenting!
The same goes for work. If you are dreading it when you get up in the morning, and it feels like a weight on you – you are either doing the wrong thing for YOU, or you are working with soul-sucking people….either way, learn from the experiment, and start looking for another job.
The only way to get to your life’s goal is to understand what you are learning from the failures.
Why am I writing this?
I have friends who are approaching retirement and some who are retired. And they are dreading it. But they are afraid to try something new, because they might fail. And while I understand the financial ramifications of failing after a certain age, I worry that they will become bored with life, or depressed.
I don’t think you have to risk your financial stability to experiment. So I am writing this for YOU…you know who you are.
Volunteer in the field you are interested in, or better yet, in an area you know NOTHING about.
Go back to school and take classes in what you have always wanted to learn about, since now it won’t affect your career or your scholarships/loans.
Join a club.
Find a meet-up or start one.
Mentor someone else…life’s lessons are always more obvious when you are seeing them in someone else’s life.
Try a hobby, get bored or frustrated with it and quit the hobby, with no remorse or guilt.
Change things up, rearrange the furniture, paint the walls with graffiti and leave it there until you feel like painting over it.
Try something and fail at it, and decide if you want to try again – without judging yourself. Just observe and learn about your own feelings and desires.
LIVE. FAIL. Try Again or not. YOU GET TO CHOOSE.
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