I was reading a story recently on one of my favorite sites that was a critique of feminine standards of beauty and how the expectation that we “have it all” or “do it all” are essentially setting us up to fail. Upon consideration of this, I had some thoughts about my own journey and my own attempts to do/have it all. While my thoughts and sentiments in this post are fairly far afield from the original post I got a little hung up on one line from the text:
“Women are bad at setting goals.”
While I am taking this out of context, I have had this on my mind today. Is this a thing? Is this one of the many negative stereotypes about women right up there alongside the perceived inability to perform mathematical functions and drive without incident. In addition, I saw a tweet today from someone requesting short and sweet inspirational phrases. The first thing I think of when I need inspiration is something my mother has said to me my entire life: “Failure is not an option.”
There are times when I have shared this with people and they have recoiled in horror that any parent would use such strong language with their delicate flower of a child. What was she thinking?! What about building self-esteem?! How dare she put that kind of pressure on her child(ren) when they needed encouragement!
This is a misunderstanding.
According to my mother’s logic, if one is trying their best and pursuing their goals they only fail when they give up. Even if the goal is not met in the time hoped, or by a particular set of means, as long as one doesn’t give up, then it is not a failure. In this sense, failure is a choice. Are you going to carry on with yourself and do your best to see something through? Great. Then you’ve succeed in some way. Either you’ve learned more about the situation, yourself, or something that was previously unforeseen. The point is that the opportunity was not lost. In this sense, failure is a choice. If one chooses to give up, walk away and quit, then it is a failure.
“Failure is not an option.”
I say this to myself when I’m a hard run, in the middle of a tedious work project, or otherwise feeling helpless about life. I don’t find the sentiment intimidating or as though it adds undue pressure. It is one of the small mechanisms I employ when I’m in something for the long haul. My marriage, my career, my half-marathons. They are all places where failure is not an option.
So, set those goals and get there. Maybe weight-loss is not what we should be focusing on, ladies, but rather our careers and other contributions to society. In any case, set a goal that you want for you and remember that failure is not an option.