Is Failure Permanent?
There it was — my worst fear. It was time to make a choice.
Hi there, creators.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was writing and publishing regular articles on Medium. I was drunk on the high of it, loved interacting with other writers and readers every day, and was seeing a good return on my efforts.
Then something happened.
It’s hard to pin down what it was. A big part of it was that I moved across the country in late October. Going from California to Virginia was a big change, and I didn’t give myself enough time to adjust. The rapid shift in not only the location but the weather, my daily schedule, and my sleeping patterns took their toll.
I spent almost all of November sick.
But this isn’t a story about everything that’s gone wrong. I write these articles to learn from my experiences, and in doing so, I hope that you will learn something as well.
Your pain becomes your purpose. — Evan Carmichael
The pain of moving. The pain of seeing something that I cared so deeply about wither away. The pain of regret, and the pain of wondering what could have been.
Is it too late to salvage things?
I ask myself that every day, and I know many others who do the same.
I’ve talked about momentum before on this site, though often in a positive way. Once you get a routine started of doing something, it becomes easier to do the next time and the next. You already have a habit of doing it, you already have that “win” under your belt, and all you have to do is keep it going. (This is often referred to as Jerry Seinfield’s “don’t break the chain” strategy).
But how does this work when you fall off the wagon? When you let your goals and habits slip by the wayside?
One day turns into two. Two turns into a week. A week turns into a month, and here I am looking at my Medium account and realizing I haven’t published in nearly that long.
So what happened?
This time, it was the negative momentum that bit me in the butt.
I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy before — I’ve made it in some of my other stories — that a freight train or a rocket ship takes a ludicrous amount of energy and fuel to start moving from a stopped position. So too does it take an enormous amount of work to stop that thing once it’s started.
My “train”, so to speak, has been stuck in the station. And every time I think about getting back into the swing of things, I get scared.
I get paralyzed. I stop.
What if I’ve ruined my chances of making it by getting out of the habit of writing daily? I ask myself over and over again. What if no one remembers me anymore? What if I come back — will people expect an explanation?
Can I even give one?
I recognize that this is something that I’ve struggled with in my life in a lot of different areas. It’s really hard to come back to a habit after leaving it for a while. It’s not just a momentum thing, it’s also a guilt thing.
I feel bad that I let myself and my readers down. I feel bad that I once again let life get in the way. To come back now and show my face would be to own up to that mistake. Would be to put my vulnerability on display for all to see.
And that’s what scares me.
But you know what?
The old Al might have shied away forever. Might have never returned to Medium, because he felt it was “too late” or that I’d already missed my chance. That I’d already let everyone down, and that there was no point in trying now.
But the new Al knows that is nonsense. Yes, I have made some mistakes. Yes, I got out of the habit of writing and let the lapse run on much longer than it should have.
However, the best way to start healing is to start on day 1, all over again. Isn’t that what they tell addicts, even when they relapse?
Take it one day at a time.
Make that post. Do that scary thing. Come back from your failures. Be real. Be vulnerable.
And what I’ve been learning is that people respond to your truth much more than whatever cover story you come up with for yourself. So here I am, at day one all over again.
I’m here to share my experiences. I’m here to share my knowledge. And I’m here to serve anyone who’s ever been in this situation. If you feel like your time has passed, let me tell you that you still have a chance. If you’ve let your habits or dreams fall by the wayside, today can be your day one.
Today can be the day that you looked that fear in the face and told it, “I’m done with you. I’m starting again, and I’m going to give it my all.”
Because after all, that’s really all we can do. Life happens. We fall. We fail. But what defines us, what remains when all the extra crap is pulled away, is how we reacted when things got bad.
I may have been out of the game, but I’m getting back into the ring starting today.
What’s something that you’ve been putting off? What’s something that you know you should be doing, but keep procrastinating? Today’s your day. Today you can make that change.
Success lies on the other side of fear, and I’m making the choice to tell fear “not today.”
It’s good to be back.