OK, so this is hardly an original post at this time of year. If anything, over a week in, I’m probably one of the last ones to post on the topic. Lots is said about resolutions. Every year we hear lots of weird and wacky resolution. Some achievable, some doomed to fail almost immediately.
I don’t tend to make resolutions as such. I might have some aims, but I won’t declare them as new year’s resolutions. This year one of my aims is to be more disciplined in terms of getting enough sleep. I know that’s hardly much in terms of an aim for the year. So far I’ve not been very successful. I’m verging towards the two badges I saw years ago at university. One said ‘If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style’. The other ‘If at first you don’t succeed, lower your standards’.
Both of these are interesting ‘mottos’, but they illustrate some important points for those looking to the new year with new aims. We hear a lot in the news about how new year’s resolutions are bad for us as when we don’t carry them through, we get disappointed and it has a negative effect rather than the positive one it is meant to. This may well be true, but my challenge is whether it should be, and is it only true because society tells us it is.
Failure is something that is seen as negative. And yet without failure it is very rare that you get success. Many of the developments we have today, medically, scientifically and in other fields have only come about as a result of many failures first. I like good quotes, and there are many on failure, success and giving up. Just do an internet search for them and you’ll get results that have pages upon pages of them. They are a mixed bunch. Some I would say are harmful, others helpful, some humorous. I prefer helpful quotes! Theodore Roosevelt came up with a number of quotes in this area. One I like is “The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” It’s a helpful reminder that getting it wrong, failing, should not the negative thing that society has made it.
I think it gets ingrained into us at school. We have to succeed. In exams, in sports, socially. If we don’t, then it is deemed as negative. Our effort in overcoming a challenge is overlooked in favour of a final result. People even go out of their way to avoid the term failure. I remember hearing a recommendation that the word failure not be used for exams results but that ‘deferred success’ be used instead. Failure can be good. We can learn from it, and not preparing people for it I would suggest is far worse.
So, I may have failed, a number of times, already in my aim for the new year. Should I let this defeat me. No. After all, I have another 357 days left to try to succeed. Undoubtedly there will be more failures out of those 357 options, but the least I can do is to carry on trying!
I’ll finish with another quote, one that exists in a number of formats, but this one is short and concise and by Elbert Hubbard. “There is no failure except in no longer trying.”