the papercraft lab

Practicing failure and taking risks

About the LabAnandiRCComment

I am a recovering Type A perfectionist. I love my gold stars and external validation. I have often thought "If I can't do this 100%, why bother?" I hate that discomfort that comes from trying new things, especially when I'm not immediately good at it (and how often does that happen?!)

Photo by the awesome folks at Gratisography. This one is nice and philosophical, right?

Photo by the awesome folks at Gratisography. This one is nice and philosophical, right?

My word/theme for this year is engage, which had many meanings for me, but one boils down to "get in there and DO STUFF." I need to worry less about failure, and accept that as a natural part of growth and getting better at stuff.

I've had a few opportunities lately where the easier path would have been to just skip it. I could have easily justified it by saying I am busy and don't *need* to add things to my schedule. But each time, that option didn't feel right. I think the Universe is telling me the time is right for me to "practice failure".

Here are some of the "risky" things I have done in the past few months:

  • Signed up for (and started!) a weekly group training exercise class despite not having worked out in almost 6 years. Seriously.
  • Attended a live video taping of a Creative Live class, and asked questions and stuff on camera with hundreds (thousands?) of people watching.
  • Applied to be a guest blogger on a popular fashion blog, Unfancy. Yeah, I know. I'm about 40-mumble pounds from my ideal weight, I mostly work at home and until recently wore the typical suburban mom uniform of yoga pants and a ratty sweatshirt. I'm no fashionista but I AM passionate about the idea of clothes that make you feel good. (Spoiler: I didn't make it. But it's OK! More on that in a future post.)
  • Invited to discuss holiday gift-making at my favorite podcast ever, The Paperclipping Roundtable. You know, the one where actual famous scrapbookers like Ali Edwards and Stacy Julian share their thoughts? Holy crap.
  • Launched a "group project" starting in January to help people get their digital photos organized and backed up. Another thing I'm super excited about, but I've never done a "class" like this. What if no one signs up? (Spoiler: they have already, yay!)

All of a sudden these opportunities have presented themselves, and each one is a new opportunity to fail. My yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt self doesn't like that. I carefully considered each one, and my initial reaction was to decline all of them. Why put myself through discomfort to do things that are supposed to be fun?  (OK, well, not exercise - that is never going to be fun for me.)

But I realized each of these items would help me be more adventurous. I can model "trying new things" to my daughters, especially the older one who is JUST LIKE ME in the risk-averse category. I can practice FAILING, and realize that the worst that could happen is actually not that bad. I have a job, a family, a home. None of that is on the line.

So last week I recorded that podcast and it was released. I haven't listened to the show yet, because I know I'll think that I sounded like a dork, that I forgot to say some things, that I didn't use the right words.

But I DID IT. And it was ridiculously fun. It was great hearing the voices of the hosts Noell and Izzy talking to ME, unlike every other week when I hear them talking to other people (famous people!) while I walk or do dishes.

I'll write more in future posts about those other risks, some of which did not yield an amazing, life-changing result. (I still dread exercise and haven't lost a pound.) But in my ripe old age (socloseto40OMG) I am still learning and growing. And that's pretty cool.

 So, how have you practiced failure lately?

See related posts at The Papercraft Lab