Failure is my teacher and I have learned so much from my failures. When I don’t learn the lesson the first time, a pattern of failure in that area results, until I finally "get it". Each lesson brings with it wisdom and personal growth. Other failures have forced doors to close in order for me to turn around and see the window of opportunity open behind me.
For example: I failed to get selected for a Masters in Clinical Psychology in 1999. During my time off, I wrote the first draft of my manuscript which is now my published book.
Failure in small business ventures forced my attention back to my studies. It’s also worth mentioning that by now I would be desperately unhappy as a clinical psychologist, not my forte at all.
Again I failed selection in 2004 to a B.Hons course (I would essentially redo my honours, with field work, to better my chances of Masters selection at that university).
I decided to do some research, and apply to do a Masters with thesis only, no coursework. I struggled to gain support from faculty, get the guidance I needed, and be inspired and motivated by the existing research themes. I hit rock bottom emotionally. I felt a complete failure.
Then the messages came loud and clear. A few comments here, invitations there, opportunities knocking, signs appearing… I again looked at the manuscript. This time I made a decision and actually INTENDED to publish the book. I gave it my focused ATTENTION and left the details to a higher power. I believed in the result and lived as if it already had occurred. I turned my biggest career failure into my biggest career success thus far.
I am thankful that I am a failure. If I hadn’t failed when I did I would be working as a clinical psychologist, feeling unfulfilled, and never realising my dream of writing a book. I thought that was what I wanted but my talents and strengths are further removed. Hindsight is 20/20 that is why we need to trust our instincts and surrender to the flow once in a while. We don’t always know what is good for us and often chase the wrong dreams.
As for my Masters dreams, I still have them and I fully intend completing my MA and possibly Phd one day. However, it will be when I am ready and only if I am inspired to research a theme that interests ME! My focus now is more on mind/body connections and consciousness, very far from the clinical work I would have been involved in. I am still interested in developmental and family psychology as a counsellor, but I have found other ways to meet the same needs.
I also fail in other areas of my life. My failure as a wife has resulted in a very happy and rewarding marriage. My failure as a mother is the hardest challenge to deal with emotionally. However, I know deep in my heart that as I fail and make mistakes, so too I become more the mother I need to be. As long as I remain committed and open to learning from my failures, I know that I will succeed.
So are you a failure? How can you pay attention and turn those failures into success?
Be grateful when you fail, the opportunity for learning has presented itself;
Be open-minded when your way is blocked – is it possible that your unfulfilled dream is not in line with your needs, talents or strengths? Is it just a matter of poor timing?
Ask the questions and allow the answers to come naturally. Why have I failed? What can I learn? How can I improve? How do I feel about this?
Say "yes" to opportunity and see where it might lead – signs are everywhere. I said "yes" when I wanted to say "no" and it led to me rewriting my manuscript into the publishable book.
If you feel the going is too much of a struggle, then look within. Do you actually know what you want? Do you know what your dreams should be? Are you chasing the dreams of others based on what they think is in your best interests?
It goes without saying that in life you have to be very much in touch with who you are and what you want out of life. If you are not in tune to yourself then you will not notice the signs leading the way to your dreams.
Some basic signs that you are NOT on the right path include:
Struggling to wake up and get up in the morning;
Numbing your emotions with alcohol or drugs on a regular basis to unwind, destress or just forget;
A lack of enjoyment or participation in activities that previously brought you joy;
Apathy, boredom and lethargy in general most days of the week.