When do we decide to fail? It seems like a silly question, like who decides to fail? Failing at something is bad enough so that choosing to do so seems like such a strange decision. Yet, when I think about it, when I think about the lack of success in many of the avenues that I try to travel down, I realize that my failings had far more to do with my decision to fail than it had to do with anything else. It was all on me. It was when I chose not to do the work; it was when I decided I couldn’t figure something out; it was when I chose to balk when challenged.
Decisions are made at an astounding rate throughout our day. Many, if not most, of these decisions are being done on auto-pilot, meaning that we allow our programmed personality to dictate how to interact with our day.
I take this from much of what my day-to-day life lately, with an emphasis on my habits related to writing. Being that I am an unknown, independent writer, my writing can be seen to be a hobby more than a career choice. What little money I have made barely pays for a few coffees a year to support the conversion of caffeine into a story structure. Classifying my writing as anything other than the pipe-dream offshoot of this hobby appears delusional. Yet that doesn’t tell the story. All that it explains is the existence.
To better clarify what is going on, one should examine those behaviors that I have when it comes to writing.
It has been just about a year since I started my break from writing. It was only supposed to last the week prior to vacation and another week or so after, totaling a month at most. Of course, events happened, and it prolonged my expected break. Since then however, I had made both the conscious and unconscious decisions to prolong my lack of success in writing.
Success can take a multitude of forms depending on the goals. I measure the success of my writing partly in a financial windfall with a goal of replacing my current career with one in writing. Honestly, this is a long shot as the vast majority of writers, both traditional and otherwise, write as a part-time endeavor that supplements their current job. While my ultimate goal is to only write, I have smaller goals to chase in the meantime. And each day, I am making decisions that are prolonging the time until I might achieve those goals.
Each time I pick up my phone and open Instagram without the purpose of marketing myself, I am making a decision to fail. Yes, we all need to vent and relax from daily stresses, and even the stresses that our goals bring, yet the difference between taking a moment to relax or making the wrong decision is a very fine line hidden in a cloudy field: it’s very easy to cross the boundary without ever knowing.
There are reasons of course behind our decisions to fail. Much of those reasons are fear. The young batter who refuses to swing is afraid of striking out, yet is doomed to fail at ever getting a hit. The worker who decides to never ask their boss for a raise for the fear of getting rejected or fired will fail at ever getting accepted, or allowing a door to open in their favor.
What is that thing that we want so bad that we are equally fearful of never achieving it? How many decisions do we make each day that only reinforce that failure, or ensure it? What would it take for us to start deciding the opposite? Sure, we might still fail, but at least this time we tried.