“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:
- The people I need to let go of are the easiest to shed.
- The easier I am on myself, the better my work becomes.
- The beauty of my path lies in its unique windy trail.
- The temptation of easily accesible emotions (like anger) is the doorway to unhappiness.
- 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.
* * *
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!