Monday, May 2, 2016

Failing—What's Next—#OpenBook Blog Hop

It's happened to all of us. Something didn't work out the way you wanted, the way you hoped, the way you planned. It might not have been your fault, but it's still a failure. And it hurts.

The big question is, what's next? Do you give up or try again? Or do you switch to a new goal?

I'm not a big fan of giving up. But I'm also a believer in picking my battles. Experience has taught me that I can't win at everything. So I examine the problem, seek the advice of others, and try to determine whether the gain is worth the effort. Not everything is.

But if I decide to try and still fail, now what? I've also learned that I have to allow myself to feel bad. I don't have to be bright and sunny all the time. Sadness is a valid emotion. I embrace it, but don't let it control me. Now it's time to take a second look at my original goal.

What did I do wrong? Or did I do anything wrong?  Maybe it wasn't my fault that things didn't work out the way I'd hoped. Circumstances beyond my control might have caused the failure. The garden I was going to plant this weekend? I bought the seeds and the garden soil. And then it snowed. (Yes, we had snow Friday and Saturday.)

So the plan failed, but I didn't. There's a difference. The seeds and the soil will wait until next weekend.

Or maybe I'll change the plan. Analyze what went wrong and revise based on experience. Knowing the local weather, we could get hail several times during the month of May. So instead of planting the seeds outside, I'll start them in pots in the house. That way on nice days I can set them outside, and on bad days I can bring them in for protection. Once I'm pretty sure it's actually summer, I can transplant them I want to.

Not all failures are as easy to fix as flowers. If you've heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) you know the goal is to write a book in one month. 50,000 words or more. The first year I tried, I failed. I only got 49,000 words written before I hit the end of the story and the end of the month. ( I think I've shared this before.) But I don't really count this as a failure, because I accomplished something I'd never tried before. I wrote most of a novel. And I went on to revise and expand and finish that story, although I doubt I'll ever publish it. (It's not that good, folks.)

But occasionally I've had to give up on a goal. And giving up hurts worse than failing but knowing you'll try again. Depending upon how important the goal was, it can feel like losing a piece of yourself. It can be hard to pick up and keep going.

But that's what I had to do. Mourn and move along. Find a new goal and try my damnedest to make it happen. Maybe start small and allow myself something easy before tackling another large goal. Allow myself the satisfaction of a small glory before going after a  large one. Because giving up isn't an option. Not according to my rules for myself.

To find out what the other bloggers have to say, follow the links below. And feel free to tell me about how you deal with failing in the comments.

"May 2, 2016 - What to do if you've failed at the goals you set?
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants' blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person's blog post. Use ?#?OpenBook? when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Custom Blog:


  1. I think a lot of not-very-good novels come out of NaNoWriMo. Novels written in 30 days need years of revision. I could write a decent 8,000 word short story in 30 days ... maybe ... and it would require revision afterward. Ooo, I just came up with an idea ...

    I'm glad to see you have a similar zen to what I have about goals and the failure to meet them. Perfectionism keeps the mental health counselors and pharmacists in business. Seeing life as a series of scenic routes that gets us to somewhere kind of near where we want to be is so much healthier.

  2. I enjoyed NaNoWriMo last year and Camp NaNoWriMo this year. I agree that it makes you set goals and stay with them and that without it I probably wouldn't have finished this first draft. I can revise it later, I'm just glad I did it. I met some pretty awesome people.

  3. I take about 6 months to write a novel. Well done for getting to 49,000 words!

  4. Hi P.J. Great post! I've never tried NaNoWriMo--my writing style is not driven by a hard time line such as this. Also, November is not a good month for me with the holidays and all. I admire you for your big achievement of 49K words. You should definitely feel proud! Thanks for sharing.

  5. P.J. - I think you've hit on a key point about failure - don't let it define you. In other words, don't base your self-worth on the outcome of something you try. Because then you'll allow shame to settle in and take away your creativity and courage. Instead, allow yourself to be vulnerable... and go for it! (this is me paraphrasing Dr. Brené Brown's book entitled "Daring Greatly")