The One Resolution That Matters is the Futility of Failure

The One Resolution That Matters is the Futility of Failure

“I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.”
— Ranier Maria Rilke

When I got a whiteboard for my office, I never imagined it would help me discover something about myself that had been hiding deep inside my heart for decades…

My failures … just not in the way you’d expect.

About a month ago, I stood at my whiteboard and made two columns:

  • On the left, I listed my biggest successes.
  • On the right, I listed my biggest failures.

This was far from easy. Words like “success” and “failure” are loaded, aren’t they? After all, what makes something a “success” or a “failure”? Everyone’s definition of those words is unique, and I’m not always sure what mine is either.

I stood at that whiteboard and racked my brain, trying to dig out all of my life’s ups and downs. With a marker in one hand and an erased in the other, I got to work…

I started by writing down my successes.

My heart beamed with pride, and my ego ballooned with each line I added to the list. My entire body swelled with contentment and accomplishment.

I thought of the people I’m close to, the experiences I cherish, and the independence I enjoy. I thought of the big wins I want to scream about and the small joys I want to curl up on the couch with. I thought of the signed contracts and smooth connections. I thought of the number of sunsets and waves I set my sights on.

I thought of everything that makes me feel awesome.

Quickly, the list got longer than I expected. It hit the bottom of the whiteboard, and I was forced to move on to the next list…

Then, I moved onto my failures.

And my balloon started deflating in small bursts, each packing a swift punch to the stomach.

My cheeks flushed with shame and embarrassment as memories of my failures flicked in and out of sight.

I thought of the difficult conversations I had, the people I had friction with, and the desire I felt to make everything okay. I thought of the projects I didn’t enjoy and the projects I wanted to drop completely. I thought of the gifts I forget to buy, the hugs I didn’t give, and the calls I never made.

I thought of everything that made my stomach churn in regret.

But when I finished writing the list, it looked too short to be true.

I stepped away from the whiteboard, and my jaw dropped. My list of “successes” made the list of “failures” seem nonexistant.

In the words of Lena Horne,

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

After seeing both lists right in front of me, I know this is true.

Failures aren’t as big as they feel. Successes aren’t as small as they feel.

This was a big revelation for me in 2013… I want to carry it with me as I move forward into the upcoming year.

How will I do that?

* * *

Over the past year, I’ve written so much about what I’ve learned, like how I followed my “ideal life” and how I increased my income by 520% in one year. That’s all well and good, but I’m not nearly finished.

My “failures” dragged me down, but I’m now ready to let them go and rise up.

To do that, there are things I need to learn — and then re-learn again and again for them to stick.

Here are a few I’m focusing on at the start of the new year:

  1. The people I need to let go of are the easiest to shed.
  2. The easier I am on myself, the better my work becomes.
  3. The beauty of my path lies in its unique windy trail.
  4. The temptation of easily accesible emotions (like anger) is the doorway to unhappiness.
  5. Being everything means being nothing.

None of these sound easy, right? That’s probably why I haven’t mastered them yet.

But 2014 will be the year I sink deeper into myself, into what I need, into making every moment more and more delicious.

I hope you’ll help me next year in tackling each one by one. I hope you’ll join me by making a list of your own, too.

Will you?

* * *

A year from now, do you want “failure” to keep dragging you down?

I don’t want that for my life, and I don’t want it for you, either.

We’re coming up on the new year, and you know what that means: whether you love them or hate them, resolutions are upon us.

But there’s only one resolution that’s worth dominating.

When we drop our failures, the doorway to success swings open.

Last week, I told you about my goals for 2014. Every single one of them is born from a place of no fear, of confidence, of nurturing what I really want.

I’d love to hear from YOU:

If you listed out your successes and failures, what does that look like?

What do you want to learn and focus on in the new year?

How would you feel if you let your failures drop away?

I can’t wait to hear your take…

Wishing you awesomeness from San Juan del Sur!

— Marcella

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  • Lee Toomey

    Marcella,

    Thanks for this info and your fabulous website!

    In answer to your questions:

    I have listed my successes and failures and Yes, my successes outweigh my failures. But I fail every day, I am learning that this is normal (ish) and that the key is to learn.

    In the new year, I want to learn how to connect with people. I have been on a bit of a journey, learned a lot about myself and others. I am determined to make a difference. It took me about two years of turmoil to find anything that made sense, your work is part of that. I want to find a way to get to others sooner.

    I am lucky. I have a pretty relaxed attitude to life but I have struggled. Others are more emotional, I would like to help them, in a nice way.

    I am finding it hard to focus, I know that the things I have experienced are personal to me. They may resonate with some people but it has to be about them (I think?)

    How would I feel if I let my failures drop away?

    Probably Awesome!

    All the best for 2014 and Thank You!

    Lee

    • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Happy new year, Lee! I hope I can help you in connecting with people that lead you to the difference you’re wishing to make. What are you hoping to do in the new year? Maybe that’s a good place to start…

      • Lee Toomey

        Happy New Year Marcella – thanks for the reply!

        I am hoping to go somewhere with my website/blog, but am still unsure of the direction. The world is full of information and you are doing a great job of getting to the point.

        I am trying to do the same thing – just not sure who I am trying to help?

        I truly believe that everyone is capable of choosing how they feel, how they react to events/situations and how much they allow the actions of others to alter their mood. It works for me, but it took a long time to get there. I am a little worried that most people don’t realise this until it’s too late and do I really have anything to offer?

        Anyway, I am hosting one of the LiveYourLegend events next Tuesday and have a group of people attending – so I hope to get started there.

        It’s the connecting part that I struggle with, this is all very far removed from what I spent almost all my adult life doing!

        Regards,

        Lee

        • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

          Sounds like you’ve got a plan to start, Lee, which is always great. I hope your event on Tuesday helps. Please let me know if I can help in any way. :)

  • Cara Murphy

    Marcella, thank you for this insightful post and sharing your thoughts! You accomplished so much in 2013 Im glad that you are taking time to recognize and be proud of that.

    Here’s my reflection:

    1) After listing out my successes and failures, my failures list is pretty small compared to my successes. I also noticed that my successes are mostly events and concrete goals (ie apply to business school), whereas my failures are more intangible (ie losing my patience with my family). Food for thought as I think about goals for next year.

    2) My ultimate goal for 2014 is balance and moderation. I tend to live in overdrive, which is good for short periods of time but wears out the engine when used 24/7. I want to learn to be satisfied and happy in the moment, instead of constantly striving and thinking about the next step, task, goal. As the successes and failures list demonstrates, there’s so much to be proud of, and its important to take a little time to think about those instead of just focusing on the failures. Our perspective on life is created by our own thoughts and focus, so if we’re constantly negative and unsatisfied we’re going to have that perspective. I want my perspective to reflect the successes and failures list, mostly positive with some negatives (reframed as lessons for growth and development) sprinkled in.

    3) Um, amazing! Letting go is always difficult, but dwelling in the past is no way to progress and make a change.

    Oh and guess who’s coming to Nicaragua in February with Under30?! Can’t wait to see you!!

    Have a very happy New Years!

    PS I saw on Twitter that you’re staying away from champagne tonight. If you want something festive I suggest sparkling cider :)

    • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Cara! Happy New Year! What a wonderful surprise that we’ll be hanging out again in February, I can’t wait. :)

      You know, you mentioned something that I forgot to mention in the post that is *so true* — my list of failures was 100% about PEOPLE. Small failures, big failures, etc. It helped me realize that I want to work on my relationships, to avoid that kind of failure in the future. :)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write that out. Made my day!

  • Gareth Willett

    “The easier I am on myself, the better my work becomes.” ~ I like this one :)

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