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Fantastical Failure – Learning and Growing Despite and Because of It

Text Only LogoFailing as a writer sucks. Can we all just be honest about that? Nobody goes into a writing project or career thinking, “I can’t wait to be a huge failure at this!” Yet failure is inevitable. In fact, for the vast majority of writers, it’s practically the norm. We face rejection from agents, editors, and publishers on a near-daily basis. We write terrible first drafts. We submit stories to critique groups hoping to get unwaveringly positive feedback…and we fail. Yet the hope is we persist through failure. That we absorb the sting, the pain of it, let it strengthen our resolve, strengthen our skills and eventually…somewhere along the way…we overcome and succeed.

Without failure, we miss out on opportunities to learn and grow. We miss out on identifying our strengths and weaknesses. Failure is the grinding surface we sharpen the edge of our skills on. It’s essential.

Failure is plentiful in the realm of fitness as well and just as essential. Failing at a fitness goal, be it a major or minor one, is the only way we’re going to have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes or shortcomings. The only way we grow is by pushing ourselves beyond our capabilities, where we can’t lift any more or run any further and we accept we’ve hit our limit—for now. Tomorrow, though? That’s another story.

The trick, of course, is to not be dragged down by failure into hopelessness or despair. Everyone’s going to be discouraged when they experience failure. That’s natural. But it’s our choice whether we persist through it and try again or just sit down and give up. The latter is the only time that failure will ever truly defeat you. If you let it.

What lessons can be learned from a fitness failure?

Let’s say you’re trying to eat well and then you have a stressful day and end up downing a gallon of chocolate milk, a whole cheesecake, and a bin of caramel popcorn. Recognizing that stress or negative circumstances can trigger unhealthy eating habits can help you spot those tendencies in advance and come up with a plan to deal with them better in the future.

What if you cut calories drastically to lose weight quickly, but then suffer from dizzy spells and fatigue all week? Recognize you can’t maintain this sort of diet and adjust your intake until you’re able to function well while in a smaller deficit. Even if it takes longer to make your weight goal, that initial failure to hold to a diet revealed the healthy limits you need to stay within.

What about if you make a pact to wake up before dawn every morning to get a workout in, and then keep pounding the snooze button every day? Morning exercise just might not be your thing! Be willing to give yourself some grace and try working out at different times of the day until you find the best fit for your schedule and energy levels.

What sort of failure have you experienced? Have you let failure defeat you and convince you to give up entirely? If you’ve pushed through failure, what lessons has it taught you and how have you applied them to increase your chances of future success?

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