How do we define failure and what can be done about it

On Health.   On Heart.

GE103112The other day someone asked me why I was okay talking about my relationship ending on Got Ennui?.  I was taken aback.  Got Ennui? works best if we’re really honest about what’s consuming our time and thoughts, so it made sense to be honest in the post.  But should I not have done that?  Did it somehow cast me in a bad light?  Did it make me a failure in the eyes of the world?

If a relationship fails, if your job fails, if you lose your house – does this also mean that you are a failure?

Am I afraid of failure?  Does that fear paralyze me?

I try not to let it.  This may be a bigger question of how do we define success.  For me, it simply means waking up in the morning and going to bed at night, content; balanced.  Even when I was twenty-something I felt that way.  I may have gone out to some club, but came home and fell asleep, content that I’d made the most of the night.  On the other hand, when I was also twenty-something and working as a banker, I would come home late on a weekday, relieved to no longer be at work, but then tossed and turned all night, anxious about having to go back into the office.  I quit my job then, too, so the notion of striving for balance is constant with me.


1. Take a step back.  It’s so easy to get lost in the weeds of why a relationship ended.  We could spend hours with our friends or with a therapist, digging through the roots of what ails us (or what we believe ails us).

2. Let go.  Failure in all things is okay.  Life is too short to hold onto the negative feeling of failure.  I’m reading a book that talks about “iterations” and “pivots” and “adaptive learning”.  I’m going to apply these techniques not just to my projects, but also to other aspects of my life.  Exercise.  Dating.  Friendships.  I need to evaluate things along the way, and if I find something isn’t working, I need to be stronger and more honest about making a change.

3. Stop being hard on yourself.   I can easily criticize myself for languishing too long in dead-end relationships and jobs, thinking if I just try harder or try something different the outcome will improve.  Rather than look back and berate myself for having wasted time, I want to look ahead at the open days ahead of me with excitement.


1. The world is forgiving.  We need to be as forgiving of ourselves.

2. Don’t spend too much time gazing into the rearview mirror of life.  You’ll miss all the good stuff right in front of you or just on the horizon.

3. Depend on others.  I have a handful of friends with whom I can share anything.  I can be the most honest and sometimes worst version of myself with them and they are always on my side, supporting me however I need to get back on my feet and moving toward better things.

4. Learn from others.  This post by Pamela Slim gives her experience dealing with grief.  It’s elevated due to the shootings at Sandy Hook, but the underlying message resonates for any grief or loss.  No matter how big or small the causing event, it’s how deeply we feel it, how we embrace it, and how we move forwards with our eyes open that counts.

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