"A glorious failure can sometimes be more life affirming than a cautious win."
Now is the perfect time in life to invest in the possibility of a glorious win, accepting the risk of a glorious failure, rather than being complacent with a cautious win.
As Elizabeth Gilbert states in a recent O Magazine article, "You must ask for what you really want. The mere act of saying aloud, 'This is who I am and this is what I've come for' seems to awaken a powerful force within. By articulating your wish, you're serious about bringing forth the next great thing in your life." Even if it ends up being a failure.
What do you get from a glorious failure? One—you fail, or at least you don't accomplish what you set out to achieve. On the other hand, you discover new options and opportunities. In the process of going for the big win, you experience living life to the fullest. You get to be the person that "you want to be." And, if you try enough times for the glorious win, you might just get it one day.
Conversely, rather than take a chance that you might fail at what you really want, you decide to go for the cautious win. A more sure thing, but are you better off? Does a cautious win excite you? Do you want to jump out of bed in the morning to meet a cautious win? A failure makes you want to try again. A cautious win can make you complacent—accepting good enough.
Why is retirement the perfect time to go for the glorious win or failure? We have very little at stake. Other than protecting our financial investments, everything else is up for grabs—our time, energy, relationships, interests, hobbies, commitments… Retirees can take this risk.
Author James Marshall Reilly, in his book Shake Up the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life, says, "When you are young, there is no wrong choice other than the safe choice." Reilly suggests that young adults have very little to lose, that they are "gifted a uniquely low-risk window of time to invest in themselves." I propose that the same is true for the other end of the career lifecycle, the period when we're free to put a capstone on our life, not just our career. We can go for the glorious win and risk a failure.
According to Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations, "A safe conversation is a failed conversation." Maybe the same principle applies to goals. A safe goal is a failed goal. At best, it's a cautious win. I encourage you to risk the glorious failure in exchange for the glorious win!
Written by Patrice Jenkins, Ph.D.