The passing of another year is always a time for evaluation, setting goals, looking back on our achievements – and pondering our failures.
Sometimes failure can be such an unpleasant experience that it can overshadow the good things that we have achieved, much of our happiness and many of the things that we that we have to be thankful for in our lives. I know this, because last year I failed at something that I really wanted to make a success of, and that failure still creeps in through a little door in the back of my mind, (usually as evening is drawing on), and sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night, asking “What could I have done better?”
Happily, there is a silver lining to the clouds of despondency following any kind of setback. There is, for a start, the fact that when we fail at something, we are not alone. For everything that anyone has striven for and that fell on its face, for every project that never took off the ground, every invention that someone else got there first with, every business start-up that bit the dust, every exam that was just too hard, every relationship that ended in tears, there are thousands of other people feeling the same exasperation, disillusionment, heartbreak, disenchantment and anguish.
Secondly, failure is not only character building, but it sometimes opens our eyes to things that we had not previously been aware of. For me, I realised that I was missing something very necessary to my personal happiness, and I now have the goal of finding it again somewhere.
Failure, if looked at in a rational manner, can become the building blocks for future success. We can think about what went wrong, what we could have done differently, and how we can do better next time around. It is very tempting to give up on a project or a goal because it didn’t work out the first time, but an ability to evaluate and learn from the mistakes of the past, when combined with perseverance and determination, can be a very valuable piece of your personal toolkit.
And last, but not least, here are a couple of inspirational things that have memorably been said about the wisdom of learning from failure:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
J. K. Rowling
“Everything that you want is on the other side of fear.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”