Friday, April 29, 2011

The freedom of failure

A lot of people are struggling right now. Struggling to keep the job, the house, the car, maybe even to keep the marriage. Not everyone is going to win the struggle. They will lose what they are trying so hard to keep.

Maybe the struggle shouldn't be framed in terms of winning and losing. It's just change. Things change all the time. Change is rarely either all good or all bad.

The job might be killing you by inches. The house could be an albatross around your neck. The car's high payments and upkeep might be a nightmare. The relationship could be toxic and you don't even know it.

Now usually the first response to loss is to replace it as soon as possible. Day one after being laid off, many get right back on the gerbil wheel. The car gets replaced as soon as possible. The newly separated gets right back in a relationship with someone much like their last partner.

When change happens, take a breather, and look around a minute. This is change. You might want to embrace it.


Okay, you lost your job at Spacely's Sprockets. Do you want to turn around and go back to work at Cogswell's Cogs? Maybe it's time do something else with your life . . . or not. At least look at your options. Maybe this is the chance to do something you always wanted to do. Maybe losing your job is a good thing.

Of course, the job thing is a big one. We are still in a money economy. Losing the job might mean losing the house, the car, the spouse, your friends and any status you had in the community.

Yep, that could happen. Happens at the time. What are you going to do about it? Get really bummed out? Okay, that's fair. Do that for a bit, but then what? Maybe you want to do everything possible to rebuild your old life. If that's what your really want, go for it. However, be conscious of what you are doing. Don't just fall into your old life style. Now would be a good time to think everything through and decide what's really important to you. Do you really want that new Beamer, or is it a status thing? Would you be happier with a junker? Many people are. I don't spend my Sunday's washing and waxing my truck. I figure it'll rain again sooner or later, and that's good enough.

For many people, the possibility of rebuilding their old life is remote. Fine. You might just have to accept that change. Build a good life anyway, even if it's on a shoestring budget. A little soul searching is in order. Why were you doing the things you were doing in your old life? What is really important to you?

Many people find relief when the struggle to hold on is lost. Sure, the car's been repossessed, but that $400 car payment is gone to. The house is gone, but you were under water with the mortgage anyway. It doesn't just apply to the few examples I've been using. It could be the lost of anything held dear. Even if you miss it a lot, there can still be elements of relief. At least the struggle is over.

Sometimes people will talk about something bad that happened to them and then add it was the best thing that every happened to them. It's because it sent them on a new path that they were happier with in the long run.

Here's a bold though experiment. You may not even be struggling, but imagine if things in your life changed dramatically. Could be anything. What would you do? Can you even imagine doing anything at all? Maybe you should practice this exercise until you can picture a satisfactory path to set out on. It's a great comfort to know there is a good life in another life path.

There's a danger here. The imagined path might look a lot better than the one you are struggling so hard to keep. Temptation may lead you to give up the struggle. Then again, is that a bad thing? Why wait for failure to induce change? Get your freedom now.



  1. I like the idea of the thought experiment! Choosing a possible new path before you need it sure takes a lot of the shock out of a sudden change forced on you!

    To a certain degree, we all have a say in our own future...or at least in which direction we are going to travel.

    Very good, thought provoking post, my friend!

  2. Let me think about it, I'll get back to ya...

  3. I'm your poster boy. Wife #2 went crazy and left me with my money and credit. I'm in the process of losing my house and land as well. At first I nearly went crazy but the more I thought about it all the more I feel like huge weights being removed from my shoulders and new sense of freedom in its place. The bankruptcy sucks but it also will force me to live without credit whether I want to or not. So far I have not missed the credit beast nearly as much as I feared. Sure some things cost a little more and I will never own another new vehicle but I only bought two new ones in my 52 years anyway and they were for business use. Screw the banks, I am going to rent until I can save enough to buy an acre or so and pay for it then get a cheap trailer all paid for except the never ending .gov rent called taxes.
    Excellent post, should be required reading for every soul in this country.

  4. Blindshooter: glad you found a path.