A word that pretty much every human being, let alone teen or child dreads.
The concept of failure is responsible for a lot of "stuff" in our lives: stress, anxiety, depression, fear, perfectionism, self recrimination, humiliation, sadness. Failure can stifle us, make us paralysed, make us not even try .... that new thing or exciting thing, that difficult thing or scary thing, that thing we really want to do, but the fear of failing and being humiliated means we will never try. The thought of failure leads to disappointed dreams and hopes, and yet we don't question this fear or the potential failure. In fact, we tend to assume that failure is inevitable, that even if we try, then the odds are stacked against us .... but are they really?
According to the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Years goals .... now that seems like a really small number - but instead of thinking that 92% of people that set New Years goals are "failures" and "lazy" and "uncommitted", let's actually think about why people fail their New Years goals. Firstly, they set too lofty a goal and/or timescale to achieve said goal, secondly, they don't put a plan in place or assemble a support group, and thirdly, they give up to easily, usually besieged with self doubt over their ability to achieve.
No wonder we think failure is inevitable and the inspiration muse is off helping other, more "worthy" people with their goals.
But .... what if we weren't afraid of failure? What if children and young people (YOU) could see that through failure you can become the best you ever? That through failure you can learn the lessons of not what to do, so you can step forward in confidence, knowing that you are now one step closer to achieving your goals.
As a young person, when you are going to school, or college, or uni, it seems that the entire fate of your future is in the exams and tests that you have to pass .... and not only pass, but come out the other end with flying colours. No wonder we had children as young as 6 exhibiting stress behaviours, quaking in their boots as they stepped up to exam paper. The pressure to be perfect, to not fail, is so overwhelming; it is our responsibility to remove these pressures, and in fact teach our young people how to fail with grace, elegance, and ability to learn from mistakes and brush off the disappointment like it was glitter on their shoulder. Let's learn to love the "F" word.
So youngsters, here's some advice on how to reach your goal and deal with failure:
1. Have a plan - but a plan that is flexible, flexibility is crucial here. If you are finding you're not great at exams (to be honest I never tested well), do your best, but focus on assessments and extra credit assignments. If you realise you are not going to get the marks you need for uni, remember, be flexible, go and get some life experience for a few years and then go to uni as a mature age student. Being flexible means there are always options and failure won't have the impact it otherwise could.
2. Get support - build a team around you, but be selective in that team. Make sure you surround yourself with people who will not criticise you for failure, but will support you and help you learn the lessons and move on (remember: dust that disappointment glitter off).
3. Step back and think - when failure hits us it can be hard, so don't make any immediate decisions about the moment and/or your future. Instead, step back for an hour, a day, a week, or even a month, and let the dust settle. You will be clearer headed and able to see the lessons in the failure, and then ultimately make the right decision for you, to move ahead.
Most importantly, remember that to fail is to be human, we all have failure in our lives, the difference between successful people and non-successful people is how the successful people deal and work with failure.
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright