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  • Dora Nudelman

Failure Is Subjective


What does it truly mean to fail? Is failure a real affliction, or is it simply a figment of our imagination?


If you ask me, failure is just a label that we give to something when we are attached to a specific result or outcome (and a definition of success) that has not yet been met.


So, then, what would happen if we were to change our definition of success? Might that mean that we haven’t actually failed after all? What if the purpose of our goals and actions actually has a completely different trajectory than what we expect? The truth is, failure is really just a subjective judgment that we prematurely place onto our results based on our own expectations of something that did not manifest as we had hoped.


Perhaps, then, it would make more sense that instead of deciding on one narrow definition of success, that we create a broader spectrum of what it means to be successful and to succeed at a goal. Maybe we need to redefine success to include the benefits that apparent failure can actual bring to our perspectives on life; for sometimes the best revelations come from what we deem as failures because, in fact, they are actually successes in their own right.


Thomas Edison once stated: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It would make sense to say, then, that sometimes it is just as important to know what does not work as it is to know what does. Sometimes the process of trial and error is more valuable than receiving instant gratification. And sometimes the learning process is more important to our personal development than the goal itself. And so, we cannot underestimate the value of “failure.” As such, we need to stop berating ourselves over our misses and, instead, start celebrating ourselves for how much we’ve grown from our “mistakes.”


I can’t tell you how many times I have “failed” at what I had thought was supposed to look like success. But because I have always acted from my heart and with passion, even though disappointed at times, I always managed to get up and try again. That’s because my motivation has always been beyond just outward success. In fact, my motivation has always been driven by my purpose, my passion, and everything that represents the core of who I authentically am. This is what success really means to me because each time that I had seemingly “failed,” I also realized something new and something different about myself, as well as what I truly wanted out of life. And once I had changed my definition and expectation of what "success" was supposed to absolutely look like, this instantly freed me to follow my heart without limits or any negative judgments. My definition of success became more fluid, broad, and open and, because of that, it brought me many pleasant surprises, opportunities, and joyous manifestations along my way.


Now, having said that, it's not to say that I don’t have specific goals or dreams that I want to manifest. Rather, I simply know that as I put in the "effort" to manifest my desires, at the same time, I can also let go of any harsh criticisms and narrow expectations that would have me limit my possibilities. I know that even if my goal is very specific, I can trust with all of my heart that the best outcome (and process) will be what ultimately manifests for me because my definition of success comes from an authentic place versus just my ego.


So, the next time that you set a goal for yourself, instead of defining success in a very narrow way, perhaps you can try to just let the process be the goal in and of itself. That way you will succeed 100% of the time and you will not only avoid disappointment, you will also learn so much more about yourself and your capabilities than you had ever known before. Plus, by allowing the process to be enough, this will also leave you open to new discoveries and possibilities, more so than if you were stubbornly focused on only one specific result alone. So, let life surprise you from time-to-time as you let the process take you exactly where you need to go; for when you are acting from your heart, the end results won’t matter as much as the joy within your journey.


In truth, we don’t really know the exact purpose of our goals until after we have completed them. It is only in hindsight that we get to see the lessons learned and the reasons why we did what we did and why things turned out as they had. Our egos certainly like to dictate what we should and shouldn’t deem as a successful endeavor, but we won’t really know for certain why we are called to do something until we put our all into the process, and then see where that leads us.


Consequently, the results that we get might occur exactly as we set forth, or they may be completely different and, subsequently, take us on an adventure that we had not anticipated (but love nonetheless). And so, if we are open to the journey, everything that we do will become an instant success because we will no longer be holding ourselves to a limited standard or definition of what true success really means. Then we will feel free to explore all avenues that we feel drawn towards because we will no longer be afraid of failure and, in fact, maybe even welcome it.


The fear of failure ironically leads to failure. That's because true failure does not come of not achieving your goals; it comes of not even trying. And so, the logic is quite simple: The less we fear failure, the more we will ultimately succeed.


Bonus Tip:


Whenever you are setting a goal for yourself, first ask yourself this: “What am I trying to achieve?” Meaning, what is the essence behind your desire? Are you looking to expand your finances? Are you seeking approval and validation? Do you want specific accolades to add to your credentials? Are you trying to fill some sort of void in your life? What is your true and honest end goal? Once you determine that, you will then be able to also determine if your goal will be worth the pursuit or if, perhaps, there might be a better motivator that you can choose that will be more aligned with your authentic reason for being.


For me, my goals are generally always motivated by these following considerations that are always at the forefront of my mind: 1) Does it make an uplifting contribution to the world in some way through the gifts that I’ve been given? 2) Does it express an aspect of the joy that is within my heart and soul? 3) Does it expand my freedom of expression and creativity? And 4) Does it ensure my personal fulfillment in my life, including within my physical experience? And as long as these considerations are all met in some way, I feel happy to proceed without needing to be too attached to any specific expectations or outcomes. I might have specific ideas in mind, for sure, and work towards them in the best ways that I know how. But I always make sure to leave some room for pleasant surprises as I try not to prejudge my results as failures if they haven't turned out exactly as I had hoped, or if they hadn't come as quickly as I had expected.


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