For a long time, I’ve lived my life thinking I should do this and should do that.
There has been an image to uphold and expectations to conform to. I should get a proper job that pays well. I shouldn’t be seen dancing like no one is watching, I shouldn’t sing, as I don’t have a good singing voice. I should put on make-up and paint my nails to make myself attractive.
Over the years though—as I’ve discovered my authenticity and made peace with who I really I am—I’ve become less concerned with what others think and with conforming to expectations. Now I consider life to be much more about how it feels, rather than what it looks like to others and what is “expected” or “normal.”
But I noticed that this feeling of “should” even persisted as my life became authentic. I left the corporate world and pursued my dreams. I became a yoga teacher and a life coach, yet still the “shoulds” followed me around—they just took on a different guise.
I’d feel guilty if I failed or fell out of step and the “shoulds” were less about “you should have a proper job” and “you should be successful and make people proud,” and they became more like “you shouldn’t be drunk on a Saturday night, you’re a yoga teacher” or “how come your own life is falling apart, when you’re coaching others on how to live their best life?”
It made me feel like a fraud, like a failure. I felt like I should have the answers, and I should be less imperfect!
But in reality, the only thing I “should” be doing is letting go of these expectations—these unrealistic aspirations of perfection—because I, like you, am human.
I began to embrace my authenticity and accept myself for who I am, the flaws as well. I am a yoga teacher, and I am a life coach, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect—it means I am just the same as everyone else.
I am imperfect, I am human, and this is something I am finally comfortable with, because it’s through our vulnerability that we demonstrate our true strength, and this means accepting our imperfections and loving ourselves anyway. We can fall, and we can fail, but it’s about how we learn to get back up, carry on and grow into the people we are capable of being.
I’ve learned that succeeding is less about being perfect and avoiding failure, and more about how we embrace it and use it to shape our future and grow into the people we’re capable of being. In the same way that happiness is not about avoiding suffering, it is in fact these things that enable us to succeed and be happy.
Best-selling authors can release sequels that flop, superstar sportsmen can have bad games, and the most intelligent people can make mistakes. There are seasons to our soul. Some days, we are on our game and everything flows—we achieve great heights. Other days, we can do exactly the same, yet the results don’t turn out how we planned.
How do we bounce back from this and use it to help us succeed in the future?
The turning point for me came when I realised that success wasn’t about avoiding failure, and that in fact, I needed to expect it and embrace it as it was part of the path to success.
Realise that failure is always possible—expect it, embrace it, and know that this is how we learn. Every failure takes us a step closer to success. Ask yourself—what is this trying to teach me, what can I learn?
I’ve spent years trying to improve my writing career, my marketing, my social media skills and my following. I’ve immersed myself in study to learn what I didn’t know. I’ve followed the advice of my mentors to the letter, yet still, I sometimes fail! I organise events that previously have had great feedback and no one shows up. I write articles and no one comments. My first royalty cheque was worth less than five dollars! Yet, it doesn’t stop me. If I gave up now, all this hard work would be for nothing—and when we give up, we never truly know how close we could have been to success.
It’s taught me to learn to see the success in failure. Not just the lessons learned but the small wins along the way. So I may not be making money, but I am getting emails from followers saying what I’ve written has inspired them—this is a success in my eyes!
Over time, I’ve realised that it’s not supposed to be easy. If it was, then everyone would do it, and there’d be no achievement. This highlighted to me the importance of not giving up, because every failure is a step closer to success.
Those who have succeeded and those who we aspire to be—it’s not that they’ve done it right and we’re doing it wrong. It’s that they’ve already weathered the storms we’re in now. They’ve gotten to be where they are through the failures along the way. They’ve learned lessons, gotten back up and turned it into success.
Even the best fail, and this is why they succeed!
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
Author: Jess Stuart
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Jason H. Smith