Failure is painful. It is what we do with that failure that is critical. I have failed in certain careers but I learned from those failures; I learned what I wasn’t good at; I learned those areas where I was not a good fit. For example, I once had a job in sales; I was terrible at it. It taught me a lesson, and it taught me that my ideal life would probably not be best spent as a hard-charging sales manager for a high-tech company.

What constitutes failure and what constitutes success? Sometimes the easiest illustration can be demonstrated by a true life scenario. Here is a (real) story of two people I know.

Friend number one was laid off two years ago. He had been with the same company about nine years. He disliked the job he had been placed in and had stopped trying many years before. When he was fired it sent a deep shock to him. He started to agonize over it – and he continues to agonize. He keeps re-living the firing over and over again. He feels completely inadequate over that firing and he has lost his self-esteem.

Even though he has started a new job, he still beats himself up because he is comparing the prestige he once had in a past job to the reality of the present. In other words, he is allowing the past experience and the past failure to undermine what he has now. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy. He is failing.

The second person was laid off only about a year ago – and it was from the same company. He was also stung by getting fired, but when he had a few days to reflect, he said:

“You know, I’ve learned a ton of things about myself. I don’t want to go down that same road again.” He immediately benefitted by the harsh lesson. He did, and I am convinced that he will, succeed in his new job. Our past does not have to define us and this person is an excellent example of that.

When I wrote Designing Your Ideal Life, which person from the two examples above do you think I was trying to reach? If you guessed the second person, you are correct. The first example is closed off to change, until he decides to stop letting his failure from the past influence his future.

The second person can benefit from my book in many ways. He is not closed off to success, and he is willing to put in the work to make sure that the rest of his life is happier and more fulfilled. He will go through the chapters and learn, take notes and put what he has learned into good practice.

My wish for you

If you have “recently” been fired or laid-off from a job, mourn it for a few days and then go about designing something better for yourself. You cannot recreate the past, and if you are looking for something more “successful,” understand that the past glories you imagine were not all that glorious. Honestly.

Understand what went wrong but be gentle on yourself. Beating yourself up is a game you cannot afford to play. Next time you will do better and next time you will find something much closer to your heart. Hopefully you will finally design your ideal life.

 

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