I’m back, though I never meant to go

In starting a blog about the art of learning to fail well I have failed. As you may have noticed it’s been some time since my last post. That’s because the very day I fell behind on the schedule I had made for myself my inner perfectionist came out to play and insisted that I quit, since I’d already messed things up anyway.

Of course, I argued that it was fine and likely no one had even noticed. Certainly true. Then I made the critical mistake. Instead of jumping right back in I decided to take another day before I posted, take a little more time to think of something good. And, of course, the next day was too busy and the next I didn’t think about it….

In the spirit of this blog I found 3 lessons this failure has taught me.

1. I like to jump into the deep end of projects. No baby steps for me! This has been both a advantage and disadvantage in my life. I’ve had some great adventures and experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything because I pulled a Peter and went for a walk. “Jump, then Look” had served me well in some areas of my life. On the other hand, I do tend to take on too much or give up on projects because I feel completely over-whelmed. Lesson? If it’s an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime event, or just something crazy fun or short-term then jumping in with both feet can work. But if it’s going to be a long-haul, or a bedrock habit I’m trying to build into my life, then it might be better to take things a bit more slowly in the beginning.

2. It’s easy to drift away when there is no accountability. No one else knew what my posting schedule was supposed to be so no one noticed when I didn’t make it. So when I felt no one noticed I was right. Not much motivation there. Lesson? Accountability is good. I’m going to be posting a minimum of twice a week now. If both posts are on Saturday night you’ll know lesson 3 was in full effect.

3. The Resistance is strong in this one. If you’ve never read “The War or Art” by Steven Pressfield I’d recommend you find a copy. The book was not what I was expecting when I read it but it changed the way I look at my writing, and other areas of my lfe as well. Most of all, he names the reason I don’t write- Resistance. With a capitol R. Resistance is a tricky beast, and clever to boot. It’s the same sort of idea that Seth Godin talks about, the “lizard brain”. Lesson? The things I want the most are the things I am most afraid of of failing at, which means they are the things I am most resistant to attempt.

An example- Knitting is fun. However, I have no major dreams that involve knitting, nothing is riding on my ability to do it well or succeed at it. Failure at knitting costs me nothing but a little time. Therefore, Resistance doesn’t show up when I knit. I can fail and fail and fail again and though it is frustrating it isn’t a big deal. There is no fear of failure in making a scarf. Writing, on the other hand, is very important to me. I want to succeed, I have dreams and hopes and plans riding on that success. This makes writing trigger an immense amount of Resistance. When I fail at writing I don’t just feel like I’ve failed, I feel like I am a failure. Worst of all, it feels like my dreams are being threatened and I hide. When I write poorly it feels like a big deal, and there is much fear of failure.

This makes Resistance extraordinarily valuable. It shines a light right on the things I value most, on the things I want at the deepest level but am afraid of going after because trying and losing seems more painful than simply longing.

Now that I have a more reasonable posting schedule, accountability, and have recognized my Resistance as a sign that this is something I should pursue I am ready to begin again.

And I’m going to turn the tables-

Is there an area in your life that is important to you, where you are striving to reach a new level or gain a new skill, but that you find yourself consistently not gaining ground because you just don’t do the work? Have you considered the idea that it might not be laziness or a lack of self-discipline (the 2 attacks I toss at myself the most often) that is holding you back but rather that it might be fear? Does that change the way you go after those goals?

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