The Assumption of Failure

When you start something new do you assume you will be successful?  Or do you assume there’s a really good chance you’re going to fail?  No…not a chance.  A likelihood.  Asking for a friend…. *whistles casually*

Seriously, though.  I am finally at the point where I feel things shifting.  I feel the earth move under my feet as I gather myself to jump to the next level. It is an exciting time. But my stinkin’ thinkin’ can also make this time a lot more nerve-wracking than it needs to be.

See, when I start something new or try to take what I’m already doing to a different level, I don’t enter into the endeavor assuming I will succeed.  I don’t walk in KNOWING that I’ll be able to overcome any obstacles in my path.  Or that I’ll keep going in spite of problems.  Or that if it doesn’t work out there’s another door opening somewhere.  If anything, I look at a new challenge and my first inclination is to assume that I’ll probably fail at it.

Moving towards a goal, then, for me, means moving in spite of pessimism.  It means finding the will to put one foot in front of the other when I’m SURE—at the beginning anyway—that it’s not going to work out.  Movement towards a goal becomes a constant struggle—a struggle against myself.

This, needless to say, is not good.  In fact, it has impacted my life more than once.  It is one reason I procrastinate and allow myself to be diverted into time-wasting activities.  After all, if you assume there’s a good chance you’ll fail anyway, and you find failing to be painful, then you want to avoid it or delay it as long as possible.  Sometimes the only thing keeping me on target is pure Pennsylvania-Dutch / Hungarian stubbornness.  Well, that and my spreadsheets.

But what would my life be like if I could change this thinking?  What if I just operated under the assumption that I would succeed?  What if I walked into a situation KNOWING I could do it eventually, and even more important, that I WOULD do it, no matter what?  Yes, there would still be struggles, there would still be issues, but those struggles and issues would be part of the journey, not a useless battle with myself.

The truth is that failure is not always a bad thing, and it certainly isn’t inevitable.  What could be perceived of as a failure might be a stepping stone to success instead.  But people get so afraid of failing that they don’t even start.

If you assume you will succeed, if you KNOW that eventually success will happen, if you don’t automatically assume you will fail, and, more, don’t even see it as something you need to worry about, what could you do?  When I hit a roadblock, what if I ask myself “how do I get around this problem?” instead of throwing up my hands and saying “I knew it wouldn’t work.”

If you assumed you would succeed, would failure even exist?  Or would “failure” just be a marker sending you down a different path?

If you didn’t assume failure, would you be brave enough to start something new?  And would you stop when you were confronted with obstacles?  Or would you keep going?

Would you listen to rational people or would you listen to your own dreams?

I know that you can’t always control the things that come up in your life—if the last 18 months have taught me anything, it’s that.  Sometimes things just aren’t going to work out the way you hoped and dreamed and planned. And sometimes when things don’t work out, you’ll think that you’ve failed.  Many things are beyond our control no matter how hard we work.

But we CAN control how we react to our circumstances, and more, we can control what we tell ourselves about them.  We can control the assumptions we make before we even start a new path about where it’s to go.  We can control our own narrative.

And we can keep going.




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