The Failure Factor

"Oops" moments can lead to feeling like a failure.As a perfectionist, it’s easy for me to feel like a failure. Entertaining a single failure in my mind increases the likelihood that I will remember other failures and shortcomings and that I will obsess about them. Suddenly, I’m not a mere failure. I’m an abysmal one.

One of my recent failures was related to my day job. I was given a last-minute project and didn’t have time to edit all the photographs used in the project. I didn’t even think editing them was necessary until a board member commented on one of the photographs. I was mortified. I found myself wondering why I hadn’t taken the time to edit the photograph.

The failure was slight, perhaps imagined, but it was more than enough ammunition for my perfectionist mind. The perfectionist in me lobbied not only that failure but also every other failure, real or fake: You’re not running often enough. You’re not writing enough poems. You need to be working on that book. You need to be creating teaching materials. You need to be researching podcasting…On and on and on it went until I was so upset and discouraged that I didn’t know what to do.

I did the only thing I could do: I went to work. I examined what needed to be done and did it. I worked on a new cartoon for Waxing UnLyrical. I submitted that cartoon. I ignored – as best I could – the voice that said I wasn’t doing enough and wasn’t accomplishing enough. I chose to keep moving.

What do you do when you’re discouraged? How do you overcome the failure factor?