Expect Failure And Do It Anyway

It’s January 1st, and there’s a whole bunch of shoulds. Should set into motion the habits I want to create in my life this year. Should take out my watercolor sketchbook. Should do some strength training if I want to transform my arms this year. Should do some writing, at least a blog post or a thought download or something. Should gear up for tomorrow at the very least, set up a plan for my day, figure out the meals I want to make. Should email or text friends a note of thanks for the beautiful holiday cards they’ve sent. Should get out of bed. Instead, I’m plagued with inaction. I think it’s a normal impulse, doing nothing in the face of overwhelm. I also know that “overwhelm” is a total lie. It’s a story we create about the neutral facts of our lives. We create overwhelm. We create our own inaction with the stories we create, which birth our excuses. I’m sitting on the bus with my knees on the seat in front of me. I should be warming my hands on the wheel.

I could argue that rest and silence is necessary, and it is, but what if it’s just an excuse? What if it’s fear masquerading in replenishment’s clothing? A big part of me, for years now—since 2011, look, I’ve got the proof—has struggled with not wanting. Not knowing what I want, not knowing what my dreams are anymore. But what if that “not knowing,” that murky story I’ve been telling myself is just a ruse? What if what I really want seems so impossible that I wouldn’t dream of calling it my own desire? Instead of risking wanting something, I shut it down and fail in advance, not even allowing myself to dream?

The last time I played the game: What if the best of all possible worlds were possible? (2004 version) What would I want then? The first time I played, I won. And I mean, I really won. Every single thing I’d hoped could happen in 2004 did. I wrote it all down, and then, it happened! And looking back at that power of manifestation maybe has made me believe that it doesn’t happen twice. So I don’t even dare try. Who wants to fall short of it all?

That’s the thing though. You have to expect to fail in advance. You have to KNOW you’ll fail, that you won’t get it all at first, that you’ll have to try many different attempts until you get at it. It’s almost like wanting to convert to Judaism. The three-knock rule. You’ll be turned away just to test your conviction. That’s what happens with wants. You have to prove you’re willing and committed. That you’ll spend however long it takes to get after it, and you’ll bask in the getting of it because you know it’s the trying that empowers and enriches you.

If the best of all possible worlds were possible, I wouldn’t be afraid to dream of that world. It might be too much to acknowledge out here in the open. Another should. I should take to the offline paper journal of my life and wreck it. Wreck it with everything I hope and want, break it of fears, bend its pages in hopes and dares. Skip the safe perfection of attainable and tear right into the heart of everything I burn for, face up to everything I can create.

Previous Best of All Worlds Lists:

Best of All


  1. You wrote: ” looking back at that power of manifestation maybe has made me believe that it doesn’t happen twice. So I don’t even dare try. Who wants to fall short of it all?”

    My question: Why would you think that? It seems to me that if it worked before – it can work again.

    I loved re-reading the old posts attached to this one. I feel like you and I have been on this journey together for a long time, and I’m always happy when I see you’ve written something new. Since the 2011 post, my darlings have all graduated from college and two of them are in NYC in graduate school. The other is pursuing her dream of being an artist. Also in 2011, I met the true love of my life and have spent the last 6 1/2 years in such bliss I can hardly believe it.

    Life has changed seasons again. These feel like the happy, golden years. I hope you find your answers soon, my friend.

  2. Pingback: EXPECT FAILURE AND DO IT ANYWAY – This Strange Life

  3. Stephanie,

    I needed this today. I’m struggling with the play I’m writing, digging for meaning, and absolutely terrified of it. What happens when people read it? What happens if they hate it? What happens if what I’m writing makes no sense, doesn’t ring that gong, doesn’t make people think, “Yeah, wow, I’ve never thought about that.”

    And the worst one: “What happens if nobody sees what I see?”

    “You have to KNOW you’ll fail…”

    Third draft. Fcuk it, I’ve already failed twice. Might as well keep at it.

    Thank you.

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