Failure: Succeeding In The Opposite Direction

This is the time of year when many folks begin to think of ways to improve their lives when January 1st rolls around.  Many resolutions are made, and then broken before midnight February arrives.  I don’t make resolutions – especially for exercise or diet (been there, not done that.)

Can't see where we're going while looking over our shoulder

I do think it’s healthy to examine the year gone by to make sure we are moving in the right direction.  If not, this is a great time to reorient our life map and chart out a new course.  Reorienting can be done any day of the year, but for those motivated by the freshness of a different year, it can spark revived purpose.

What is not particularly useful is rehashing all the perceived failures of the past year.  (I say ‘perceived failures’ because our failures are often not failures at all…they are valuable experiences that just didn’t lead us in the direction we planned to go.)

Zeroing in on every face-plant only increases the likelihood that emptiness will be drowned in copious amounts of alcohol.  I’ve seen the aftermath of New Year’s binge drinkers and they are a miserable bunch.  I guess dehydrating your brain until it feels like it is being beaten by four thugs in a dark alley doesn’t foster human decency.

Of course I’ve had my share of perceived failures in 2011; I’ve had goals I never reached and dreams that weren’t fulfilled.  But I choose to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t.  I’ll use writing as an example, since that’s why I started this blog (even though it now blurs into other areas of my life.)

In 2011, I didn’t complete my second novel as I had hoped.  In fact, I haven’t written a single word of it, but I’m not discouraged.  On the contrary, I’m thrilled creativity hasn’t robbed me and dumped me beside the road on this writing journey.  And 2011 has been a journey….I have:

  • Read 22 novels
  • Written 7 short stories
  • Completed character development short stories for 3 of my novel characters
  • Written 13 poems (links to poetry and short stories are on my Random Writing page)
  • Written about 160 blog posts
  • Read and commented on I-don’t-know-how-many blog posts
  • And…here’s the big one:  I’ve ‘met’ so many interesting blog friends that my writing journey doesn’t feel like the solitary trek that some writers bemoan.  I’m having so much fun!  Thank you 🙂

As I already mentioned, I don’t make resolutions…but I do set goals.  My one goal for next year is simple:  I will feed my spiritual self by setting aside fifteen minutes each evening to read a devotional page or scripture.  Life is about balance, and that is the one area where I am deficient.

My relationship with God is the glue that bonds me as a wife, mother, friend, writer, employee, leader, and compassionate human being. Sometimes I feel like parts of me threaten to peel away, but I want my life to be held tighter than crazy glue between fingertips.

Um, not that I have experienced this, or anything…

How do you approach the New Year – with a bottle of Tequila and 100 of your closest acquaintances, or with quiet reflection and a good night’s sleep?


32 thoughts on “Failure: Succeeding In The Opposite Direction

  1. jeanne December 29, 2011 / 1:19 PM

    Balance is the key to a well lived life! As for ringing in the New Year…we opt for a quiet evening with a home cooked meal and little snuggling in front of a roaring fire…Wishing you a joyously balanced new year.

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:13 PM

      Mmmm….your New Year’s plans sound perfect! I agree that balance is so important – I hope we all maintain that through the next year, Jeanne 🙂

  2. Neeks December 29, 2011 / 1:52 PM

    I am usually in bed so that I can get up for work the following day. This year I’ll be off, and snuggled up in my warm bed!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:14 PM

      I like that….snuggled in bed whether you work or not 🙂

      I’m glad you stopped by, Neeks!

  3. nrhatch December 29, 2011 / 2:15 PM

    Wise thoughts, Janna. Often what didn’t go “right” pushed us in the “right” direction.

    My “resolution/goal/plan” for 2012 is merely to remain awake and aware of the infinite possibilities inherent in the present moment . . . as the path unfolds before me.

    We always stay in . . . sometimes with another couple, sometimes not. In Florida, we’ve ventured out a few years at midnight for fireworks on the beach.

    Last night, we watched a show on New Year’s traditions. Our ears perked up when the host got to the part about eating chocolate to improve one’s “luck” in the New Year.

    Chocolate? Yes, please.

    We have two slices of Chocolate Cream Pie in the freezer which we plan to inhale just before heading out to the fireworks.

    • nrhatch December 29, 2011 / 2:22 PM

      And, I’m with you . . . THIS is FUN!

      • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:26 PM

        Hubby doesn’t get it, but I could (and sometimes do) spend hours reading blogs!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:25 PM

      Eating chocolate to improve luck in the New Year? I’m all over that one…I have a Ghiradelli dark chocolate espresso bar begging to be eaten 🙂

      I like your low-key plans for the new year, as well as your goal to keep an eye open for the possibilities!

  4. Debbie December 29, 2011 / 2:26 PM

    New Year’s is typically quiet for me. I don’t particularly enjoy drunken crowds, and I generally find it hard to stay up late enough to watch the ball drop! Boring, huh? I like what you said about ‘perceived’ failures — truly, they’re just perceived by us. Often, others would consider them merely detours. Or the Hand of God moving us in the direction He wants us to go! Happy New Year, my blogging friend!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:29 PM

      I can relate, Debbie. I haven’t stayed awake for the new year since I had children. My older son tried to stay up last year but crashed at 10:45. We never go out for parties because drunk driving is a real problem here and it’s not worth it to me.

      If I were more patient and subservient to God’s guidance, I bet I would have fewer perceived failures!

      I hope you have a happy New Year, too. I am happy we’re blogging friends 🙂

  5. suzicate December 29, 2011 / 4:23 PM

    quiet reflection and a good night’s sleep sound good to me…my meager attempts to stay awake until midnight rarely happen when I try; now if I don’t plan to stay awake you can bet I’m wide awake!

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:30 PM

      I know what you mean, SuziCate. I’ve found myself up til 1AM writing, but if I set out to ring in the New Year, I’m out by 9PM!

      I hope you have a peaceful New Year 🙂

  6. Carol Ann Hoel December 29, 2011 / 4:43 PM

    I approach the New Year with awe. How did it get here so quickly? I’m ready to relinquish my hold on 2011 and all of the changes it brought into my life. It was boot camp for my new position as 24 hour caregiver. Now that I’m well equipped, I say bring on 2012. We, my husband and I, with the help of family, friends, and Hospice, will live it carefully one day at a time. Jesus is our sustainer, provider, and our exceedingly great reward.

    I like your description of failure, Janna. Let nothing be wasted. Failure is a lesson in something and exercise for the brave one willing to live life to the fullest. Failure may be the stepping stone that leads to fulfillment. Your words are always uplifting and challenging at the same time. I look forward to reading your posts in 2012.

  7. jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 8:42 PM

    2011 has been a year of trials and change for you, Carol Ann. I would be ready to move on to the next chapter, too 🙂

    You are so right that this year has been training for next year. I admire your faith and ability to recognize this, rather than get angry or resentful of your circumstances.

    I’m glad you like the description of failure. I haven’t always seen it this way, but I’m evolving. I also look forward to what 2012 has in store and appreciate that you visit even with everything you have going on.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband.

  8. Carl D'Agostino December 29, 2011 / 9:00 PM

    Reorienting. Yes that seems better than particular resolutions. Another blogger suggests developing a style of positive responses to things instead of resolutions. Redirecting ourselves . The Master dismissed rules too. He said a way of life is what we must develop not driven by regulations but by goodness.

    • jannatwrites December 29, 2011 / 9:12 PM

      I gave up resolutions years ago. Who wants to start out the year feeling like a loser because they broke a resolution in the first week?

      Redirecting isn’t something I’ve consciously done, but I can see how it would work well. I hope you have a happy New Year, Carl!

  9. Cloonan December 30, 2011 / 10:04 AM

    you are a strong person…resolutions are necessary for someone so centered…I do love your idea of writing that second novel…someday perhaps I’ll start on my first

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2011 / 9:33 PM

      Cloonan – if you want to write a novel, you should start it. With perserverance, you can finish it, too 🙂

      I’m having fun with the character background stories, although it delays the novel writing. I hope it will give my characters depth. I guess I’ll see when it’s done!

  10. cuhome December 30, 2011 / 1:58 PM

    New Years to me: Namaste! I loved your remark ” . . . Zeroing in on every face-plant only increases the likelihood that emptiness will be drowned in copious amounts of alcohol. I’ve seen the aftermath of New Year’s binge drinkers and they are a miserable bunch. I guess dehydrating your brain until it feels like it is being beaten by four thugs in a dark alley doesn’t foster human decency ” . . . and I wanted to add “or thinking”. I howled at that. Good post! Your emphasis on balance was great.

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2011 / 9:39 PM

      Glad you liked it, Cuhome. You’re right – drinking doesn’t foster thinking either.

      I hope you have a happy (and balanced) New Year!

  11. pattisj December 30, 2011 / 10:57 PM

    I love your sense of humor, Janna, and I’m glad to have found your blog. New Year’s Eve: we stay home, usually alone, hubby wields the remote control expertly from channel to channel and we try to catch the ball dropping in Times Square. About that time, someone in the neighborhood starts shooting off firecrackers. Too much DUI here, so we don’t venture out, either. Happy New Year!

    • jannatwrites December 31, 2011 / 9:18 PM

      Sounds like a marvelous New Year’s Eve to me, Patti. DUI is an issue here, too, so we made it home by 6PM and took down our Christmas decorations. Yep, we are so full of excitement 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoy reading and continue to stop by…I like your blog, too!

  12. philosophermouseofthehedge December 31, 2011 / 7:17 PM

    Love the quote under the pix. So true. Failures? Just incomplete journeys, or lessons learned about something. We should welcome failures – you have to know what you don’t want in order to learn what you do want or need….You’re already well on your way and ready to inspire others. Recharge and get ready for the new year! Great post.

    • jannatwrites December 31, 2011 / 9:23 PM

      Glad you like the picture caption…I think I made it up, but I could have read it somewhere, too. Who knows?

      You’re right – failures are often discouraging as we go through them, but we do learn valuable lessons! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I hope you have a happy New Year, Mouse!

  13. J. P. Cabit December 31, 2011 / 11:10 PM

    100 of your closest aquaintences…ha ha ha 🙂

    I spent it with about thirty of my closest friends. Keep in mind, these are also, like, my only friends.

    Happy New Year!

    • jannatwrites December 31, 2011 / 11:19 PM

      Glad you liked that, Seph!

      Thirty friends is impressive. Especially since I’m sitting at my computer writing tomorrow’s blog post. Sad. Very sad…It’s not New Year’s here yet – I have forty two minutes to get a life 🙂 Not impossible, but not likely, either!

      I hope you have a happy New Year also. I owe you some comments, which you’ll have tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.

      • J. P. Cabit January 1, 2012 / 6:36 AM

        Well…um…maybe you’re just not a party person?… … …

        • jannatwrites January 1, 2012 / 9:32 PM

          I am definitely not a party person, Seph 🙂

  14. clarbojahn January 1, 2012 / 3:35 PM

    Thanks for a wonderful 2011! Here’s for a Happy new Year!

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2012 / 9:48 PM

      Thanks, Clar! 2011 was a big year for you – I hope 2012 is even better!

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