I have this problem. When thinking about things in my life I feel optimistic, but then the thought creeps up: Things didn’t work out when I … they probably won’t work out this time either. Or I’ll think some thing like, There’s no guarantee that this will work out this time because things didn’t work out last time.
Last night, I had an epiphany. If that logic holds true, then nothing will ever work out for me again. Allow me to explain: Let’s say I have Plan A for my life but something goes awry. Things don’t work out. Because Plan A fell part then I can be sure that Plan B will do the same. Likewise, Plan C will blow up, Plan D will crumble, and Plan E will run right into the ground. In fact, every other plan that follows Plan A will fail. If that’s the case, there is no point even trying anymore. My while life is doomed to failure because I had one thing that didn’t work out. I might as well just sit down somewhere and wait to die.
To put it in different terms, let’s say I played for the Chicago Bulls. It’s the third game of the season and we lose. Based on the logic I had, we would lose every game after that because we lost one game. We shouldn’t even show up to the rest of the games because we lost that one. It took me actually thinking through the implications of that line of thinking to realize how ridiculous it is. The past does not equal the future. Past failure does not preclude future success. It never has and it never will.
Not only has this thought pattern zapped me of hope and optimism, it has increased my anxiety level. It’s like I wait for something to go wrong. This is no way to live. Worse, I think that I have let this logic hold me back from even trying some things because things didn’t work out some other time. So things didn’t work out last time. Am I never supposed to try anything again? That’s just crazy.
I am not belittling failure. Failure hurts and can have consequences. I don’t deny that. However, I am boldly stating that we must move past failure into a future of possibilities. We must move forward with a bit of faith knowing that things very well could work out this time. We will never know if we never try. We have to step to each challenge as if the past failure never happened. We have to give 100% to the new challenge and not use past failure as an excuse to give less. Everyone fails at something. Don’t let past failures destroy your hope. Move forward knowing that past failures do not preclude future success.
“… failure is not disgrace. It is just a pitch that you missed, and you’d better get ready for the next one. The next one might be the shot heard round the world. My son and I are Americans, we prepare for glory by failing until we don’t.”
-Craig Ferguson, American On Purpose