The Helping Hand of Failure – Why I Recover Faster

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I’m not perfect. 

Nobody’s perfect. 

Yet there’s this expectation in society that if you don’t have a high-profile job and don’t own the latest and greatest stuff, you’re no good. 

Marketers constantly try to convince you you’re lacking in life if you don’t own the latest phone, celebrity endorsed cologne, or the sexiest sofa.

You’re not a good parent

You’re not a good runner

You’re not beautiful enough

Not smart enough

Not cool enough

Not happy with your life

But that’s OK because if you buy today, you can rest assured that you’ll be the envy of your friends, and you’ll be so much more interesting. 

We rarely realise it, but after a while, those messages add up into an essay about how much we lack,  and life starts to feel intensely unsatisfying. Depressing, even. 

While embracing minimalism definitely made me see that happiness doesn’t come from a delivery van, it certainly hasn’t made me immune to slipping up and making bad decisions. 

On this blog, I talk about achieving goals a lot and simplifying your life so that you can discover what’s really important to you. I even share my successes so that you can hopefully start to realise the potential in you. 

But what I don’t talk about often enough are my failures along the way. The times where I take five steps up the ladder but fall down ten. 

Let’s face it, even though we need failure to grow,  it’s embarrassing to talk about and even scarier to experience. 

First off, here’s a little bit about me so that you get a little bit of context: I’m generally happy and cheerful (sometimes to an annoying degree according to my husband), I have several obsessions including writing, reading, gaming, minimalism, and self-growth.

Come into my living room, and you will see that everything is a calming white and pastel green with loads of empty space. I’ve got my future planned out, an incredible family, and quality friends. 

But it wasn’t always like that, and sometimes I fall into the same quicksand I had escaped before, slowly sinking back into old habits and ways of thinking. 

I used to be a hoarder. Not the kind of hoarder you see on those TV shows, but an organised hoarder. I was in serious denial about how much I owned. It caused arguments with my fiance, and allowed me to carry on hiding behind my stuff. 

You can read the story here, but basically, I was keeping it all because I was deeply unhappy, didn’t believe in myself, and identified strongly with my past. 

It took my mum bringing it all down to my house and my husband threatening to bin the lot, for me to finally confront the lonely memories and dusty old beliefs that kept me clinging on. 

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Now, I am living and loving a minimalist lifestyle but although I’m reaping all the benefits, I’m not totally free of my old coping mechanisms. 

You see, minimalism will make your life a hell of a lot calmer and easier, and it will help you to discover yourself, but it won’t solve every problem for you. Especially those that are nestled deep inside. 

It also won’t cure bad habits because they won’t go straight in the trash with your physical clutter. Rather, they get recycled into new, useful habits. 

Sometimes, when things get me down like an argument, symptoms of chronic illness, or even writer’s block, I will find myself clicking over to Amazon and Ebay. Other times, I just feel stale in myself, like a mouldy piece of bread. 

Suddenly, the bag I bought just months before has a fault and I need a new one. I need a new game despite having a mile long list of unplayed titles. I could really do with that lovely looking lunch box as it will ensure my food doesn’t leak in my backpack (despite never having that issue).

Of course, those are all elaborate stories I weave in my mind which will lead to me buying the product of interest. 

As I click ‘buy’ I feel the anticipation of the item’s arrival and start getting rid of things that are relatively new. The dopamine rushes through me, even though I know deep down that two clicks and a parcel won’t bring me satisfaction. 

But my brain doesn’t care about that fact because of the temporary feelings of elation.

Days later, the package comes, and as the packaging goes in the bin, so does my excitement. I realise I didn’t really need it, that I could have saved the money, invested in more skills, or gone on a day trip.

‘Call yourself a minimalist? Ha! You’re a phoney, you’re weak’, my brain chatters. 

Just to be clear, I don’t have a shopping addiction, because these slips ups don’t happen very often. But the shame is no less intense, and the bad decisions can lead to me making other bad choices such as eating a luxurious helping of Nutella on toast when I know I’m gluten intolerant, or having a second glass of wine even though I know I’ve had enough. 

However, unlike in the past, I find that I can get back up from the fall much faster than before. The injury doesn’t go as deep. 

I know that I’m not a phony because I strongly believe in what I practise and what I say. As sickening as it sometimes feels, I acknowledge my mistakes, and that makes me self-aware. 

Experiencing failure makes you feel like masking the feelings that come with it, and all the mean things the gremlin in your brain might be hissing at you. 

But here’s the thing: the more failures you have, the more wise and resilient you become. You grow. You learn. You start to become aware of why you made those bad choices. 

I’ve discovered that, generally, when I’m craving something new and making up stories of validation, it’s not the stuff I’m craving but experiences. 

It’s not a new outfit I’m after, but love and acceptance. 

I don’t want to own new stuff, I want to see new places, learn new skills, walk a new path, blossom into who I know I can be. 

However, even though I’ve taken action and forged a new path for myself, the path is long, sometimes a forest gets in the way, and you know how excruciating it can be when what you want is just a little bit further, and a little bit further. 

But what we often forget is to enjoy that journey. We can get so focused on hacking through that forest that we don’t see the beauty, or notice the undergrowth teeming with life.  

The trick is, to not lurk in that beautiful forest for too long, and if you fall, get right back up. 

Remember who you are and what you stand for, and walk hand-in-hand with failure no matter how scary, because it is your best teacher, and your greatest friend. 

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New Year Still Me

Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work And How You Can Master Yourself PERMANENTLY

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I know it’s a little on the late side since January has well and truly kicked off, but Happy New Year to you all!  

And how are those New Year resolutions going? Still going strong, or starting to feel the burn? Perhaps you’ve already given up. 

If the latter sounds like you then worry not ,because today I want to talk about why New Year New Me doesn’t work, and why you can still win big this year while being yourself.

For many, New Years is like starting a fresh new notebook or journal. You know the feeling: crisp fresh pages that you’re definitely going to keep neat and fill all the pages this time. But ten weeks later, it’s full of scribbles and you’re already looking at new ones. 

That’s what New Yew Year’s resolutions can be like and this is why so many people are what I call one month wonders. 

It’s the same every year; the clock strikes midnight and everyone cheers, pops the champagne and vows to be a better person. 

‘From this moment on, I’m cutting sugar and losing weight!’ 

‘I’m going to find a new job’, 

‘I’m going to be more organised’, 

‘I’m going to stop smoking’’ 

‘I’m going to start going to the gym’, 

‘I’m going to be a better parent/partner’,

‘I’m going to get a nicer partner’ 

Half a week goes by. Then one. You’re on fire! You’re totally going to smash your goals. You can already feel yourself becoming the person you’re meant to be, that you’ve always dreamed of. 

Then week two comes and you start to feel the burn. It’s hard. Really hard. And you’ve already skipped a few days at the gym, and are falling behind schedule. 

Life is hard, so you go out and treat yourself to the biggest, creamiest slice of cake you can find, accompanied by the sweetest, most luxurious hot chocolate. Bliss. 

‘Oh well, failed already,’ you think.  But no matter, everyone else has as well. I’ll try again once the warmer weather comes.’

Thus, the pattern continues year after year. The resolutions remain the same, and the list is a little longer than before. Why isn’t anything changing? You try, but life just keeps getting in the way. 

That’s because New Year New Me doesn’t work like that.

Despite what marketing would have you believe, you’re still you, and growth takes place over a long period of time. Change must come from within if you want to see a significant difference in your reality. 

A new you isn’t something that comes about like a change in the weather. It’s like planting a tree, maintaining it, and watching it grow. It takes time and dedication. And you must be willing to fail and learn from it as a part of the process. 

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Society and social media would have you believe that you must be perfect, and that you can be perfect if only you’d buy this health drink, and this notebook. But the opposite is true. 

Without failure you cannot win.

This may feel shocking and a little uncomfortable to take on, but failure is a great thing. Not only do you learn what works and what doesn’t,  it means you’re taking action, which is more than most people do. 

There isn’t a single successful person who has got where they have or where they did without consistent failure. 

Take Thomas Edison, for example.  He didn’t see failure as his enemy, despite a thousand failed attempts at creating the lightbulb.When a reporter asked how it felt to have failed that many times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

The reason so many people fail and don’t get back up is because they lack grit, don’t have a powerful enough reason for change to take place, and see failure as a terrible, unacceptable thing.  

Also, getting fired up just because everyone else is doing it. 

Everyone else is going to the gym and going on diets. Everyone else has a plan.  Everyone else is going to be better and you’re going to be left in the dark. 

But if you’re one of those people who say ‘Right, it’s New Year, I’m going to be more assertive and look after myself more’, you’re not serious enough. 

That’s right. You’re not truly ready to commit. 

Know why? 

Because people who wait until the New Year to make changes always wait for the planets to align before they start. They wait until everyone else is doing the same thing, then burn out at around the same time.

If you’re dead serious about becoming a new you and winning throughout the year, the best time to start is always NOW. 

You’ve probably read that on a hundred other posts and in dozens of books. You might even be sick of seeing it. That’s because it’s true. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s New Year or the end of summer, if you’re twenty-five or seventy. If you really want things to change, you’ll put in the time and dedication from the moment you decide what you want. 

As author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn said ‘If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse’. 

I used to be a master of excuses and spinning stories as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. It meant I could sound and feel temporarily awesome without putting in the work.

If I was meant to be successful, success would come to me. Maybe I’d even win big on the lottery.

I grew up with everyone around me telling me that life is hard, that money is hard to come by, that I should be grateful for what I have and not do anything stupid, aka, go outside my comfort zone and look for another way in life.

I was told that people who have money or who were successful had either cheated the system or won big. 

And I believed it all. 

As a result, I looked in awe at successful people and thought they were born that way. If someone was in a higher position that me at work I looked at them almost like celebrities. I put them on a pedestal and looked at them starry-eyed whilst seeing myself as important as pond scum. 

When I discovered and started following minimalism, everything changed for me because getting rid of my hoard forced me to confront the reasons I was clinging on. 

I’ve also read tonnes of amazing self-help books and done every exercise in them, applying them best I can every day of my life. 

That doesn’t mean that I never slip up because I do, plenty of times. But it’s important to keep going. Remember what I said about failure? 

Over time my confidence has sky-rocketed, I’ve completed the first course towards a new career as a counsellor, and I started this blog. I also entered my first writing competition despite being so terrified that my heart was pounding before I hit publish. 

My mindset has completely altered from what it once was and my old beliefs have long gone out with the trash. 

But it took a lot of hard work and perseverance. I had to carve out time for personal reflection and self-growth exercises, to toss out my past in bin liners and boxes, and it had to be more important than sitting with a game controller in hand, daydreaming about a new me. 

Change didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time, and I’ll never have completely reached my full potential because growth never stops. 

In the words of entrepreneur and motivational speaker,  Hal Elrod, You are where you are because of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.”

To be successful you have to make the choice to carry on long after everyone around you has quit. 

It’s easy to enter the New Year saying ‘Hell yeah, watch out world, here comes the new me!’and dive in brimming with motivation, especially while everyone else is doing the same thing. 

It’s why it’s always so hard to find a parking spot at gyms in January, why book shops start selling all the motivational self-help books, and why health food and fitness equipment adverts can suddenly be found everywhere.  

But simply buying an exercise bike and going at it when you feel like it isn’t going to make you fit. 

Buying a nicer laptop or a shiny new notebook isn’t going to make you a well-known author. 

Ditching one bad relationship isn’t going to stop you from attracting more of the same if you still harbour subconscious negative beliefs about your self-worth.  

Vowing to be better with money isn’t going to make you any richer. 

What will get you results is riding that bike regularly, churning out words daily, altering your inner beliefs so that you will no longer put up with mediocre circumstances. Not giving up when you fail, no matter how many times.

What you do must become so routine that it feels the new norm, including the way you think about yourself. 

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Grit and habit aside, you must also be very specific. If you’re vague and say things like ‘I will be better with money’, you’ll be scratching your head come March and blowing cobwebs out of your wallet. 

You need a detailed plan which includes specifics. For example ‘I will not go under £200 in my bank account every month. I will do this by eating out only once a month, and making lunches at home four days a week’. 

You must become like the Terminator. Your why must be so strong that it can’t be reasoned with or bargained with, and you must be relentless even when everyone else is back to screwing around. 

Let me give you an example of this from my own experience. 

When I first decided I was going to change my path and become a counsellor, I encountered a lot of resistance from others; mainly because it had come to me in a dream and it felt so right and I felt so excited that I started excitedly ranting to my husband about it. 

Then I jumped out of bed and started looking up courses and thinking of ways to pay for it, even though I was completely broke.

Not surprisingly, my family thought I had lost my mind. 

But I felt so intensely that this was the path I was meant to follow, that I didn’t stop. I went on the search for days, researching the career, talking to people, and searching for courses even when it seemed there were none in my area.

I didn’t care how long it took me or if I had to travel for miles on train. My husband was about tearing his hair out at this point trying to talk and shout sense into me (before he started supporting me when he saw just how deadly serious I was).

Long story short, a course appeared in my area as if by magic and in a very short time I applied for and was accepted onto it. In true Law of Attraction style, I ended up with the exact amount of money needed to pay for it and have now completed my course and applied for the next one. 

Without a doubt,  it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I didn’t care what anyone else said to me, what the universe threw at me, or what my current situation was. 

That’s how dedicated you need to be if you want to change your life. 

Yes you’ll have challenges thrown your way. The universe loves to do that. 

Many people see them as impossible hurdles and a sure sign that they aren’t meant to succeed.

Don’t believe it for a moment! See these things for what they really are – a test to see how serious you are. Find a way to barrage through the obstacle and you’ll get to where you want in no time. 

This brings me to my final point of staying focused.

Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others and look at what they’re doing unless it’s for educational or inspirational purposes. 

It’s not a competition and you won’t be lying in the same grave as them when you’re gone. 

You’re living YOUR life, crafting YOUR own reality. You can only do this by following YOUR own path in life. 

If you’re constantly looking over at someone else’s path, you’re going to bump into trees,  get lost and not even see the massive pile of gold you passed ten miles back.

You’ll also probably start noticing how many more weeds are on your path than theirs, not realising they had to hack their way through a jungle at the start.

So stop dreaming and start living, TODAY

With that, I leave you with one more quote I love by Jim Rohn: 
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

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