On Recovery from Failure (Or less than stellar progress)

Things I could do without

It’s an experience that plagues all of us from time to time: failure, and recovery from failure. However, failure is a harsh term, which is why I added (or less than stellar progress) to the title.

As I’ve reflected on this year, I could easily use either term to describe how I think things have gone. Since I’m an optimist who prefers to look at things in a positive light, “less than stellar progress” feels more fitting.

In this post I will briefly share how my year has gone, and the actions I am taking to change course, and provide some encouragement for you if you are wading through a state of disappointment on your current progress.

2022 has been weird. It came at us fast, starting with minor but prolonged illness. That threw things off course from the get-go.

As we recovered (“we” being my husband Mike and me), I found myself in a perpetual catch-up mode, from which it seems I am still recovering.

An aside: I have a deep desire to live a structured, well-planned and organized life to maximize my productivity for my well-being and the glory of God. I’ve written about my aspirations on that front here and here.

A business coach I was working with last year shared with me a principle that I found extremely insightful:

Make plans for the ordinary things in your schedule that you can control. But know that there will be abnormalities, and make room for those also.

What did I find insightful about that?

  • It acknowledged that there are limits to what we can control – a good reminder (“the best-laid plans…”)
  • To experience a deviation from what we plan is normal, and should be expected
  • Make room for exceptions and don’t beat yourself up when they throw you off track

If you have a plan in place, you have something to go back to once the disruption has sorted itself out.

How the year has gone

Feeling behind from the outset of the year, and the year speeding by as they tend to do, has me bewildered that it is now June (at the time of this writing), and my best-laid plans have gathered some dust.

I expected that my new business model would be further along.

I thought surely I’d have gotten more consistent with my workouts. (It’s been hit and miss.)

I had hoped to have a bigger dent in the pile of books “to be read.”

What to do about it?

There are a few things I could do – and you also if you are lagging on your goals:

  • Allow the feeling of defeat to weigh me down – like a weighted blanket or soaking wet towel on my shoulders (saying things like, “well, the year is already half gone, so I might as well wait until January and start fresh with new year’s resolutions.”)
    No. That is not how I will react. I hope you won’t, either.
  • Acknowledge the abnormality/lack of progress for what it is.
    Think about what caused it. Journal to make sure I’ve fully processed it.
  • Make a plan for getting back on track.
    How that looks is different for everyone. For me, it means re-committing to some of the things I’ve let slide:

    • Regular workouts in the morning before work
    • Taking 30-60 minutes at the start of each weekday for progress toward one of my many organizational and learning projects
    • There are so many more, but I’m learning to focus on 1-2 at a time, and not try to tackle everything all at once

A positive spin on recovery from failure

Because of my recessive “woe is me” gene, it feels compulsory to add some positive notes to even what seems like a negative topic.

If you’re feeling burdened by the state of your goals, here are two things you can think about:

  • The last two and a half years have been the most bizarre, disruptive and disturbing of my lifetime. Maybe yours too, depending on your age. You’ve made it through. You’re still alive and kicking. That alone is worth giving yourself some grace. Maybe, just maybe, it’s OK to have stunted progress in the midst of a pandemic, massive recession, wars and record inflation.
  • Something I try to do is to focus on what *has* gone well, or what I *have* accomplished. Maybe even just a good habit or three that you’ve been able to maintain in the midst of chaotic uncertainty.- Still working out consistently? Fantastic job!
    – Flossing regularly? Go you!
    – Chipping away at some continuing education or chapters on a book?
    – Learning a new skill?
    – Keeping the house clean-ish even when you don’t feel like it?
    – Looking outside yourself to serve and encourage others?Celebrating the small wins is a key to keeping motivated to keep pursuing the bigger ones. At least I think so. Would you agree?

In conclusion, I hope that you are able to gather at least some encouragement from reading this. We’re navigating some frontiers that few are equipped for or experienced in.

I have a feeling I might not be alone in feeling perpetually behind on EVERYTHING. If you feel that way too, know that you are not alone. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I’ll close with this quote (ahem, paraphrase):

When you’re not sure what to do, keep it simple. Just do the next right thing. Then the next. Then the next.

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2 responses to “On Recovery from Failure (Or less than stellar progress)”

  1. Love this! Thank you Summer. I can definitely relate and encouraged by your blog. 💗

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      Thanks, Tami! Thank you so much for reading, and commenting!

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