Why Midlife Women Should Get Comfortable with Failure

Why Midlife Women Should Get Comfortable with Failure

Who remembers my wildly successful weight loss challenge from 2015? You know, the one where I tried out a different weight loss plan each week and then blogged about all the weight I lost?  Don’t bother trying to find it in the archives, by the way. I just deleted the whole series.

If you don’t remember it, don’t feel bad. Maybe you weren’t one of the 30-40 people visiting my blog each day during that time. Or maybe you don’t remember it because even though I turned my life inside out for four weeks in an effort to lose weight, I ended the challenge not even one pound lighter. What a good time that was!

I’m thinking about that series now because I’m going through a blog clean-up and deleting posts that didn’t benefit my readers. Deleting those posts caused me some serious pain. And even now, a bit of chagrin. After all, I spent six weeks on the series. In fact, I was so disheartened after the challenge that I didn’t blog again for a month. I had this vision that the challenge would benefit me personally – I would totally lose at least 10 pounds! – and on the blog – my weight loss success would bring me a ton of new readers! Instead, I failed in front of my 40 readers. And the fact that I still had only 40 readers was just salt on the wound. Salt that was apparently making me retain so much water that I couldn’t lose weight no matter how much I tried.

But the thing is, I did blog again. I spent time learning how to be a better writer. I spent more time learning how to be a better blogger. I kept going and even though I’m still far from where I want to be, I’m so much closer than I would be if I had quit when I felt like I was failing as a blogger.

It’s especially important for midlife women to remember that importance of persistence in the face of failure because midlife is a time of change. We’re aging; often in surprising and distressing ways. Our children are growing up which can also be a little surprising and distressing. Many of us are contemplating career changes.

And with change, inevitably comes failure.

It’s so easy to read articles about the benefits of failure and to nod your head in agreement, isn’t it? Yes, yes, of course, if you’re not failing at something, then you’re not thinking big enough, am I right?  And I’ve read so many stories about successful women who have overcome hard times and persevered that their struggles simply seem like a plot point: here’s the part where she gets down to her last $10.00 in the bank before she finally sells her first mop. And now she’s a millionaire!

But it’s so much harder to live through a time when you tried something and failed at it. Your struggle isn’t a lesson you needed to learn or a dip in the road before you triumphantly reach your goal. You don’t know how things are going to end. This might be the dip in the road before the fall off the cliff. And the moment isn’t scary. It’s terrifying. Or heartbreaking. Or so mortifying that you just don’t ever want to surface in the real world again.

But here’s the thing that you absolutely must remember during those times. The only way to get ahead is to keep moving forward.

That’s particularly important to remember if you’re a midlife woman who is considering a change after years of doing something else. If your identity for the last twenty years has been as a mother or wife or working in a field that no longer excites you, then you’ve developed a sense a competence around that role and when you move to the next thing, you’re going to sometimes feel incompetent and lost. And you will make mistakes. How could you not? You’re doing something new.

But it’s more important than ever to start trying new and possibly scary things now. Because at midlife, whether you like it or not, change is coming. Our children are growing up and moving on and soon enough, our careers will start winding down. If we don’t also change then we’ll become stagnant and depressed.

And so here’s the thing you must remember as you go plan the next half of your life. There’s no better feeling than when you master something that was previously hard and scary. When you take a trip alone for the first time and realize how freeing it is to plan your own selfish itinerary. When you run your first 5K after years on the couch. When you learn to speak French as an adult. These are the moments we’ll be learning to savor during the coming years.

P.S. If failure wasn’t a necessary part of life, there wouldn’t be so many good quotes about it. Here are a few that I really love.

Midlife is a time of change. And we sometimes fail when we try new things. As midlife women, we need to become comfortable with change and failure if we want to thrive.

Midlife is a time of change. And we sometimes fail when we try new things. As midlife women, we need to become comfortable with change and failure if we want to thrive.

Midlife is a time of change. And we sometimes fail when we try new things. As midlife women, we need to become comfortable with change and failure if we want to thrive.

Midlife is a time of change. And we sometimes fail when we try new things. As midlife women, we need to become comfortable with change and failure if we want to thrive.

 

3 Comments

  1. Patty Flott
    May 17, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Hi Katy,

    I just came across your blog today! We have many things in common as I am empty nesting next month, my youngest of three has settled into her new career and will be moving into her own place! To make matters worse she is taking Ernie, our dog! I am happy to also have re-married in the last few years and I am reinventing myself once again, starting with my new blog! I ham starting to plan a blog with similar content as Midlife Rambler, including aging relatives, as I had owned my own eldercare business for 10 years. I am passionate about caring for our elderly and the families that love them!!

    There is so much to talk about (and to laugh about), I cant wait to get off my feet. As a newcomer to blogging I have so many questions to find answers to, I imagine I will get there slowly, as my blog will be an exercise in improving myself as much as it is in embracing the richness and wisdom of being a mid lifer! I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for hanging in there, you have inspired me!

    Warmly,

    Patty Flott

    • Katy
      May 18, 2017 / 2:38 am

      Hi Patty! Thanks for stopping by. This is an exciting time of life although I have to say if I lost my dogs AND my kids at the same time, Id be seriously laid low, so chin up, sister! Can’t wait to read your blog and drop me an email if you ever have questions!

  2. Patty Flott
    May 18, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Katy, thanks for your quick response. No worries about laying low as I will be babysitting Ernie during the week when my schedule allows!!!! I do have a question, what is one thing you would consider a must do, an important step when starting a blog? I already feel pulled in 100 directions!!!! I am excited to dive right in but discerning what first steps are most important. Thanks in advance for thoughtful consideration!

    Patty

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