Failing Forward

walkthroughthefire

This week marks the end of a seven year journey that my husband and I have been on.  On Friday of this week, we will be closing down our business, a business that we have poured our blood, sweat and tears into.  We didn’t come to this decision lightly.  Closing our business effects more than just us, it effects our kids, our staff, our suppliers and our customers.  We held on for as long as we could, but the fact is, we just couldn’t do it anymore.

The last two years of our lives has been harrowing.  If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that I have been suffering from anxiety, depression and grief.  These take a toll on a person, physically and mentally.  I had a breakdown a few weeks ago and was housebound for two weeks and I walked a very fine line between giving in to it and fighting back.

Fighting is hard and I’m tired.  There were only three things that kept me from giving up; my husband and my two children.  They kept me tethered to this world when all I wanted to do was disappear into the ether.  I can’t see beyond the bleakness that consumes me, but they can, and I hold onto them in the hopes that their belief in a brighter future is what will get me through.

There are so many negative emotions associated with closing a business and for someone like me, who has way too many negative emotions to start with, dealing with this failure is like stepping on a landmine.  My whole world is about to explode and I don’t know what will be left in the aftermath.

One of the hardest things to cope with is the fact that I know that I am about to become fodder for gossip.  I have lived my entire life feeling the judgement of others, never measuring up to what those around me thought I should be and now I am proving them all right.  The fact that these people, so-called friends and family, will look at us and judge us and then use our story to titillate the ears of others, hurts, but what can you do?  People love a tragedy and my life has become very like a Shakespearean tragedy.

Nobody ever goes into business thinking they will fail.  This was not our first business, not the first time we failed, but this is probably the hardest.  We survived for seven years, sure we made some mistakes along the way, but seven years is a pretty good batting average for a small business.  I know that we’ve done everything we can and now it is time to let go.  It’s the letting go that is the hardest.

How do you let go of something that you have lived and breathed for seven years?  How do you get up in the morning knowing that there is nowhere to go, not even a reason to wake up?  They tell me that my stress levels will go down and my health will improve.  They give me reasons why this is a good thing, why this is a positive move, why I will be better off when everything is finalised.  I want to believe them, but right now, I can barely see the world beyond Friday.

I don’t want this to be the end of my story, and I suppose that is a good thing.  It means that I, at least, have a tiny ray of hope that I can go on.  I want to rise from the ashes, like a phoenix.  The legend of the phoenix states that the bird that rises from the ashes is more beautiful than the one before.  I want that.  I want to be able to rise out of this mess and be better, stronger, happier, healthier.  Isn’t that what is meant by failing forward?

Maybe in a month’s time I will look back and know that, although it was hard, we did the absolute right thing.  Maybe I won’t even recognise myself as the same woman who sat here and penned these words.  Maybe I will have found a new dream.

Or maybe it will take longer than a month.  The point is that it is in the rising after a fall that determines the future.  I may not feel the strength to rise right now, but I know I will.  One day.  One day in the future I will feel strong enough to lift my head and look to the horizon and dream of what the future holds.

I look forward to that day.

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Permission to Fail

permissiontofail

I’ve been learning a lot about success and failure over the last few months.  It hasn’t been an easy journey and it has revealed a lot about myself.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that success and failure have no bearing on MY value.

Success doesn’t add to my value.  It doesn’t make me a better person, it doesn’t make me a good person.

Failure doesn’t DE-VALUE me either.  Failing doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, it doesn’t mean I am worth less than another person.

It is okay to fail.

Let me say that again.

IT IS OKAY TO FAIL

When we realise it is okay to fail, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore.  I’m not saying it makes it easy, I’m just saying that maybe it makes it more bearable.

And when you give yourself permission to fail, you give yourself permission to get up and try again.

 

Living the Dream

We all have a dream.  It is what makes us get out of bed in the morning, it is what keeps us going through the hard times; that hope, that belief that one day, someday, our life will be different.  We all dream of a better life where there is no pain, no struggle, no hardship…but what if you have found your dream and there is still pain, there is still struggle and there is still hardship?  Does achieving your dream really mean that you get to coast for the rest of your life?  And really, what does “living the dream” actually mean?

I am a romantic; a visionary.  I dream a lot of dreams and see visions of the future as if they were real, but the reality of achieving those dreams and realising those visions is not what I’d imagined.  The work doesn’t stop when you achieve your goal, when you hold that dream in your hands, in reality, the work has only just begun.

This happens to me time and again.  I work toward my dream, I sacrifice and suffer for my dream.  I work through all the obstacles with my faith and hope intact until finally, finally, I have it in my hand and I am left bewildered, astounded and a little miffed.  This dream, this vision that I have worked and strived for that was supposed to make my life easier has totally exploded in my face.  I have achieved my goal, but instead of feeling like I have won the race, I feel like the race has only just begun.

You see, all that striving, all that sacrifice and suffering that I lived through and persevered through to reach my dream…that was all just training.

In the past when I have reached this point I have given up.  I have looked at the reality of the dream and have wondered where I went wrong.  This wasn’t what it looked like in my vision.  In my vision, when I had achieved my goal, it would be all smooth sailing and it isn’t, so, that must mean this isn’t my dream.  I have been side tracked somewhere along the way and although this looks like my dream, it mustn’t be it because if this was my dream it wouldn’t be so hard!

What I am now starting to realise is that achieving your goals and reaching your dreams does not mean the end of the struggle.  All that went before, all that pain and suffering and training is just preparation for living your dream.

My son is a runner.  He has a dream to run a marathon.  He trains every day…he runs every day.  He has spent months running.  He tries to run further every day and he tries to do it in a shorter amount of time every day.  He is continually pushing himself past pain and struggle to train his body and his mind for the marathon.  When he finally stands on the starting line for that marathon he will have achieved his dream…but to live that dream he is going to have to put his body through more pain and more struggle than he ever had to while he was training.  Achieving the dream is not enough, he needs to live the dream; run the marathon and reach the finish line.

Living the dream is hard.  We see friends post on Facebook that they are ‘living the dream’ when in reality, they are on a holiday or it is a snapshot of a moment where they feel an accomplishment.  That is not living the dream; that is enjoying the dream.  Living your dreams is about getting your hands dirty; rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.  It is not easy and it is not always fun but…there are moments, sometimes only rare glimpses when you feel that this is what you were put on earth to do.

So many dreams are aborted too early because of the pain and struggle it takes to achieve them.  Other dreams are abandoned just after they are finally born because the reality of the dream did not match the vision of the dream.  Like a mother giving birth, the pain of the labour is soon forgotten when you hold the baby in your arms.  For that moment all the struggle has been forgotten as you look at the miracle that you hold.  But that is just a moment.  The reality of having a child is very different.  There is still pain and struggle and heartache as you rear that child.  Living your dream is the same…there is more work to do, not less.  There are more obstacles to overcome and holding onto to your faith and your hope is more important than ever.

As I write this, I am living my dream and I am realising that it is really, really hard.  There are moments when I feel accomplished and fulfilled, but there are still times when I feel completely overwhelmed and inadequately equipped.  There are days that I ponder the saying ‘be careful of what you wish for’ and then there are days when I can’t imagine doing anything else.  There is a constant tension, a pulling in opposite directions and a very fine line between success and failure.  Living your dream means making hard decision, it means growing as a person, it means doing things that scare you.

Living the dream is not rainbows and lollipops, sometimes it is more rain than rainbows and more cavities than lollipops, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.  Yes, living the dream is hard work but what would you rather do?  Living someone else’s dream is harder and living with no dream at all is even worse.  Yes, living the dream is hard, dirty, sometimes frustrating, heartbreaking and tough, but when you hold that baby in your arms and look into his adoring eyes, even if the house is a mess and you haven’t showered in days, it all melts away when you realise that you are, in fact, living your dream.

Photo Credit: iStock