The Surprising Reason I Choose ‘Failure’ As My Focus Word For The New Year

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If you look at New Year’s blog posts you most likely will come across the idea of picking a word for the year. It represents your most essential value you want to align with and focus on this year. Most often you’ll find words like happiness, peace, authenticity, creativity, love, mindfulness or any other ‘feel-good-word’.

So why for heaven’s sake would someone choose FAILURE as their key word for the year?

When I think of failures, I think of bankruptcy, getting fired or divorced, and even death. I think of being a failure as a mom when I have a big and loud conflict with my children, instead of managing every moment as an idyllic and happy family. I even catch myself thinking of failure when a post on Twitter doesn’t get a lot of likes or comments.

Failure is one of my deepest fears.

It’s a complete taboo for me and for most women, and I would never want to be associated with that word. It hurts. It’s shameful. It’s scary. It’s devastating.

In 2018, I chose the word JOY as my word for the year. I had just started a new job and I had DrivenWoman as my tribe on my side – a strong supportive network where I could re-write my life as my own story. I wrote down goals, visions, worked on myself, my beliefs and my values. But most importantly I felt joy most of the time. I enjoyed the journey as if it was a movie or a book I was creating of myself.

Joy to me means not only having fun (sure that too!) but being present, being aware and reflective. Doing things that serve my needs, and letting go of things or relationship that are no longer good for me. Joy is also about setting priorities, especially as a working mom with a limited amount of free time.

The year went well, fantastic even. It felt like jumping from peak to peak, and yes, I enjoyed it! I ended the year with a bang, giving a TEDx talk in Switzerland, one of the biggest dreams for of my life. I loved it! I had wished to be a TED(x) speaker… one day. One of those dreams you set far, far into the future.

This dream was not born out of a need to be famous. I thought if I ever make it on that red carpet I can prove I have achieved something of value to the society. I would have “an idea worth spreading” and maybe I could inspire others. I also wanted to prove I’m worthy enough. Especially to that math teacher from the 7th grade who told me I am too dumb to pass school!

My talk went well, though I can see a lot of flaws I could improve on, it wasn’t a failure. Indeed, I worked hard to prepare for the talk. I practiced around 80 times, I took mental training not to blackout and I recited my talk over and over again at the playground, while cooking, while bathing my kids and before sleep.

I experienced flow during the weeks of preparation. I was fully present during the talk, enjoying every moment, every second of it consciously. However, after the talk, I crashed. I was exhausted and needed almost a month to recover. But still, I do not see this as a failure. It’s still a success I am very proud of.

Success is a weird construct. As soon as you reach your goal, success creates a new one.

“Success can seduce you into thinking that your joy and satisfaction are not here but there, somewhere in the future, when you accomplish X or you win Y.”

Looking back on my life I don’t know if I have ever truly experienced failure – the very thing I am most scared of. So, this makes me wonder: Am I taking big enough risks? My inner voice keeps telling me I still live inside my comfort zone, I am still thinking I am not good, smart, pretty, confident (…) enough to achieve big goals.

“Risks lead to failure, and failure is overrated.”

That’s it!

Failure. Is. Overrated.

I failed, but it made me a better mom, a better wife, a better student, a better employee… It made me stronger, appreciating more what I have!

“This is the beautiful, counterintuitive, strange, unexpected, reliable mystery built into the fabric of creation that is at work every time we fail.”

I have heard often enough that “failure is just another opportunity to learn” if it happens. But I always thought about it as a reaction, as how to deal with it when I failed.

I never thought I want to fail.

When you fail you get a chance to think about why did you do that. What have I learned? And how will I do things differently in the future?

“This is not failure, that is how you create life.”

I have feared failure all my life. And this is why I choose FAILURE as my word of the year 2019. I want to debunk, demystify, uncover, and clear out any negative associations with this word. I want to take risks and step outside my comfort zone. And – I am ready to fail. I want to experience failure and deal with it. I want to talk about it and share my failures. Apparently, it’s the best opportunity to explore, grow and find out who you are!

“You tried something new and made a complete fool out of it, but now you don’t live with that nagging question: what if I tried?”


What if you tried?

Marisa Tschopp is a DrivenWomen Member in Zug, Switzerland; a researcher, Women In AI Ambassador and TEDx speaker

Quotes and inspiration based on the book: ‘How To Be Here’ by Rob Bell

DrivenWoman is an empowerment program for ambitious women who want to achieve their dreams and goals fast.

Join our free community the Doers Tribe.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

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