Updated: Jan 19, 2020
The short version: I tried something new everyday for 15 days and it shifted my whole perspective.
In 15 days, I gained a few hundred more followers on social media, I shared my work with thousands more people (including the faculty and staff at my college), and I taught myself the kind of basic skills I can now share with others (unless it is about Mailchimp. Don’t ask me about that). I gained confidence, I made new friends, and I increased my knowledge in ways I can’t calculate.
The longer version:
I am the Queen of Failure. I fail like it’s nobody’s business. I fail each day, too many times to count. And yes, I’m bragging.
I did not intend to try something new each day. But it was January and I had big goals for the year, updating my website, writing new posts, getting new subscribers, and figuring out social media, in general.
It wasn’t until January 13, as I drafted my first newsletter for email subscribers, that I started to take a look at what I had accomplished during the first two weeks of the year. I wanted to tell my subscribers, “hey, look what I have been up to. Look at all that I accomplished in two weeks,” but I didn’t want to sound like I was bragging. I wanted to tell the truth, that I tried a whole lot of new things, but some of them were pretty small, even insignificant to anyone else (new recipe for chicken fajitas—yeah, no one but my mom would care about that). More importantly, my new things had all resulted in failed first attempts.
Failure isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. Failure is inevitable. Failure means we’re trying. I know you’ve heard this before. The word “fail” is loaded with negative connotations, but I want to flip that. Rejection and failure aren’t bad. They are the bridge to something bigger.
Ever hear of writers who set out to get 100 rejections? That goal is rooted in the fact that if you’re getting 100 rejections, it means you are actually sending out your work. (And sending out your writing, of course, is the only way to also get a “yes” instead of all those rejections). Rejection is a badge of courage for putting your work out there.
But I’m not just talking about my regular screw-ups:
Missing my turn on the way home
Locking myself out of my office at work
Forgetting a dentist appointment
I am talking about the failures that come from trying something new. Failed first attempts. Failed tenth attempts. Those are the failures I want to specialize in this year. Even though I don’t get things right at first, I’m also stubborn AF. I never stop trying and I look forward to a mini-victory after all face planting. Failure leads to success, and when it doesn’t, it leads to lessons learned.
Not to get all teacherly on you, but if we’re not learning from those losses and failures, we’re missing out on real opportunities for growth. You can get angry or sad about it, you can rant and cry. After that, though, learn something. Take the loss and get on with it.
Since this is the first year I didn’t make resolutions, I decided 2020 would be the year of trying new things. And you guessed it; I failed at every single thing I tried. In fact, as I write this post, I am actively failing at a number of new ventures that I haven’t mastered yet.
Recent new things I’ve tried (and failed at):
Automating emails through Mailchimp
Cooking new meals
Using new software at work
Getting into a regular exercise routine
So when I talk about the “15 Days of Failure” or I ask what you’re trying and failing at, I mean it as a good thing. What have you attempted that hasn’t worked out the first (or tenth) time? Those failures are adding up to something good.
Want to join me in the next 15 days of failure? I’m going to try something new each day and most likely mess up the first time I try. But here’s the catch: I’m going to push through anyway until I find my way to that mini-success or the reflective period of learning that’s always on the other side.