Many years ago I wrote The Complicated Pursuit of Simplicity in which I explored how deciding to live a simpler life may be a simple choice but the execution of that decision is not always simple. As I reference in that post, it can take seven years to completely change your lifestyle. Significant changes that involve your entire lifestyle don’t happen overnight and can involve many long years of effort. One of the reasons it can take so long is that we will inevitably make mistakes along the way. We will fail and suffer setbacks.
Part of the process toward a quieter and simpler life is making mistakes. It is wishful thinking to believe that you can wake up one morning, envision the way you want your life to be, and have that in place by bedtime or even the following weekend. Life doesn’t work that way. In most cases, things move much more slowly than we would choose. They rarely move in a linear fashion. Rather, simplifying and creating a quiet, simple life involves things going wrong.
For example, you might be quite sure you want to pursue a particular side gig to bring in an additional income stream until you start it and realize it isn’t what you want to do for many years to come. Some people would call that a false start. Is that a mistake? Maybe. Or maybe it is simply part of the learning process on the journey to simplify your life.
Or perhaps you started that side gig and enjoyed it, but it was a complete failure. Perhaps it never took off and you feel like you wasted months of your life. Because you earnestly desire to simplify your life in a particular direction, you feel especially defeated because of the time you lost pursuing something that didn’t work out.
Learning From Failure
But that time isn’t necessarily lost. If you step back and look at the entire experience, you can glean valuable information from it. Failures can teach us so much if we can remove the emotions from the situation and look honestly and critically at it. Learning from our failures means we are even more prepared to focus on what is truly important to us.
Learning to successfully fail is an important life skill and yet it is rarely explicitly taught. Usually we have to figure it out on our own. Some people never figure out how to deal with failure despite it being an inevitable part of life. Learning how to separate failures from our self-worth and our long term goals is an important part of growing and continuing to move forward.
If we view failure as permanent, then we will never make it to the end goals we have of creating a quieter and simpler life.
Experiencing Overnight Success
You have probably heard the story about the woman who achieved amazing overnight success. The secret to that amazing overnight success?
Fifteen years of hard work, failure, starting over, and continuing on. Then out of the blue – boom! “Overnight” success.
We laugh at that, but that’s the reality of how life works. Most people don’t experience success on their first try in anything. Overnight success is the result of persevering through many failures and low times.
Embracing Our Failures
No one likes to fail, but understanding how to make the most of those failures can help us tremendously in creating a quiet and simple life. Use the mistakes and failures to help you clarify more fully what you want. Pull out of your mistakes what you’ve learned and apply it to the next situation you face in your journey.
You don’t have to love your failures. But choose to not be embarrassed or held back by them. Evaluate and learn. And then move forward with joy and purpose.