Fail and Learn: The Key to Success

plan to fail

I used to think about failure as…well, failure. As a bad thing. But as I’ve worked on how I think about things this last year I realized that I’ve missed out on some really important lessons. I’ve learned that evaluating each failure brings with it important steps to getting better and getting it right the next time. Or the next.

Learning From Babies

plan to fail
ID 12084173 © Matthew Apps |

One of my favorite lessons from my mentor, Brooke Castillo, is the reminder of how babies learn to walk. They are the masters of failing right. They don’t let falling down keep them from trying again. They fall over and over again while learning. Each time they hit the ground and get up again they make their muscles stronger. They develop the strength and the balance to succeed because they fall. Not in spite of it. The failing is what builds their skill. It is the key!

How it Works

Now I’m learning to take a closer look each time I fail. My latest example has to do with a tech challenge I was having with my blog. I didn’t get all the tasks done that I had committed to a couple of weeks ago because I was stuck on a certain task. I tried multiple different ways. I tried watching YouTube videos to figure it out. I watched tutorials. I was frustrated. The old me would have given up. The old me would have stayed stuck.

Instead I took a look at the failure. I listed all the things that went right.
– I figured out other parts of the program
– I learned to take breaks when I was frustrated
– I acknowledged my feelings
– I figured out other tasks I could do when I was frustrated that kept me moving in the right direction
– I kept my mind open for other options that might work
– I showed up and didn’t quit
– I worked on it after work, even when I was tired
– I caught myself saying “there’s not enough” time and re-framed my thinking to “there’s plenty of time” (this is a lesson for another day – powerful stuff)

Only after I filled my brain with the good stuff, I listed what didn’t go right:
– Didn’t figure out the original program I wanted to use
– Didn’t figure out how to link the program I was trying as a second option
– Found more tweaks I needed to make on my website (this alone would have derailed me in the past)
– Underestimated how long this task would take

Then I listed what I would do differently next time:
– I would have figured out the tech before planning a launch
– I would hire someone who is good at this tech stuff
– I will build a road map of stuff that needs to be figured out before a launch so I would be more prepared next time

The Value

Doing this process created an amazing brain shift for me. The next day, instead of feeling discouraged, I was empowered to push through the negative feelings. I ended up figuring it out. And it felt so good to have figured it out myself. I learned that I can do hard things outside my comfort zone. I realized that if I do this with every fail of 2019 I will have a treasure trove of valuable lessons to build on.

My Plan to Fail

For 2019 I’m planning a goal that is way bigger than what I think I can actually accomplish. I’m excited for the person I will become in the attempt. I have a list of planned fails for the 1st quarter of the year. These are things that will stretch me and if I learn from each of them I can’t help but grow. When the quarter is over I will evaluate each win and each fail and then plan more fails for the next quarter. And so on. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn with you. It’s a fresh way to look at New Year goals.

What will you create in 2019 for yourself?

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