The Road to Failure Can Lead Us Down the Path of Success

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison

Failure is something many of us have experienced in our lives and sadly something many of us have used to define who we are. Unfortunately, failure is genearlly seen as something negative and has kept many of us from living a life full of potential. It's far easier to never begin the journey, especially if expect to be perfect from the onset, than to have to endure one failure after the other. Our need for perfection can cause many us to view anything short of that goal as a failure. But what if we learn to use failure as a tool to move us closer to our goals? Do you think that you can let go of the past and use each failure as a stepping stone to success?

Failure allows us to grow

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, failure allows us to learn. It allows us to see life in a different way. It opens us to changing our view on this journey we are on. I like to say if I already knew everything than what's the point to life. It is truly through the mistakes that I have made that I have learned most about life, but more importantly about who I am as a person. Failure is what allows us to grow and to get out of our comfort zone.

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.--Henry David Thoreau

Failure allows us to become stronger

How many times have you decided to lose weight or get fit only to find yourself failing within the first 24 hours? Trust me when I say that you are not alone. I spent so many years being miserable because I allowed a single tool, the scale, to measure my success by. The minute I let go of the power the scale held over me, the minute I started to live. I measured my progress by what I could do, not by the number on the scale. My past failures allowed me to find that inner strength to move past this obstacle that had been a major deterrent in embracing healthy living.

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Failure allows us to become educated

Having started my dieting journey at the tender age of twelve I thought I knew just about everything one could know about losing weight. Even earning a degree in nursing almost 30 years ago did not keep me from falling into the trap of trendy diets. I tried everything from the Mayo Clinic Diet in college to the low-fat diet trend of the 1990s. While I did lose weight with all these diets, the common thread is that I NEVER kept the weight off. In fact, with each diet I followed I usually would end up gaining all that I lost and then some. What I learned after 30 years of failure is that any diet can lead to weight loss, but it is developing a healthy mindset that has allowed me to break free. The minute I started living like a healthy person the food no longer carried the stigma it did when I was 'dieting'. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy an occasional indulgence. However, in the past, the minute I was on a diet I felt the need to give up everything that I enjoyed so that the minute I slipped I would lose my momentum only promising to do better the next day.

Failure allows us to build confidence

This may sound odd, but having failed so many times in the past, as the old saying goes, "once one hits rock bottom, one can only go up from there." While many people have seen my weight fluctuate over the years, each time I would begin yet another diet it did make me wonder what they thought. In the past, I would announce to everyone that I had started yet another diet, but six years ago I decided this time was going to be different. I was going to do embrace my life by living by example. Outside my immediate family no one ever knew that I was on a quest to lose weight yet again. What started out as a weight loss journey soon transitioned into one of action, in other words seeing what my body could do. Running is the catalyst that gave me the courage and confidence that with time, patience and perseverance any goal could and will be met.

Failure allows us to lean on others

When I told my husband what I was writing about he listened with an open-mind and more importantly an open heart. He knows the battle I have endured most of my life, and through it all he loved me. In all my successes and failures he has offered a shoulder to cry on and a ear to listen. He was and is my biggest fan. He accepts me as I am. Sadly, I am my harshest critic. It took me over 30 years to discover that I am never alone on this journey, no matter how many times I fall down, there is always someone there willing to pick me up.

What have you discovered about yourself regarding your own shortcomings? Do you see failure as an opportunity to moving you down the road to success?

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Thank you for this. An important article. Report
I love this! It really made me think. Report
Been with Spark People for 4 years and finally going to redo goals and reset Report
Well said Report
AS I age, I look forward to each and everyday I am blessed with. I don't dwell on failure because it is lethal. My past failures remain in the past and I have definitely learned much from them. When I am advising others who dwell on their past I always say to "look into the tunnel at the end and see the light" "Don't look back because you will only see darkness".............I try to live by my convictions daily even in the face of crisis. Report
Thank you Nancy Howard for writing such and inspirational article, I used an open mine and can see the baggage from my past and can relate to so much. I am in the process of changing my negative thinking and converting it into Positive, you gave several techniques to help me. I especially needed it today! Report
Thank you for this. I'm inspired to continue with even more motivation. Report
A valuable article.
A good way to start the day, facing familiar pressures with a positive shift of approach. Report
Until I joined Spark if I failed I did not attempt it again. Spark gave me the courage to retry things. I was able to make a plan and start again. Report
GREAT article, Coach Nancy. Thanks for sharing! Report
I think that is a very important blog you have written and shared with us. Thank you for doing that! Your blog can be used in any phase of our lives for many different situations as well as losing weight. It is important to not let fear of failure keep us from what could very well have a positive outcome. How badly do we want something? Are we willing to work toward that goal? When there are set-backs, we can "back up and re-group", hopefully having learned how to go on more successfully this time. The only time we really fail is when we stop trying!!!!!! Again, thank your for your insightful blog!!!!!! Report
I think that is a very important blog you have written and shared with us. Thank you for doing that! Your blog can be used in any phase of our lives for many different situations as well as losing weight. It is important to not let fear of failure keep us from what could very well have a positive outcome. How badly do we want something? Are we willing to work toward that goal? When there are set-backs, we can "back up and re-group", hopefully having learned how to go on more successfully this time. The only time we really fail is when we stop trying!!!!!! Again, thank your for your insightful blog!!!!!! Report
I enjoyed your blog. I finally learned not to let the scale determine my progress. I am not losing weight as I would like, but I am making other goals. I exercise every day and can do things I never thought possible. Thanks for the blog. Report
It has taken me forever to get to this point where I don't completely beat myself up over any of my shortcomings. To ask for help and allow others to do so and to not selfdestroy when I fail. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Thanks a ton! Report
I have a teen who will not graduate high school on time because of bad choices. I've told him the same thing - to learn from this experience, it's not the end all. These are great principles that are applicable in other areas of our lives. Report
Great blog! Over 10 years ago, I had lost over 50 lbs. Unfortunately, gained all of it back plus some extra :( Found this site in October and made up my mind to really change my way of eating and to consider exercise just as important as food! It gets tough sometimes (just coming off a 2 month plateau!) but I am determined to keep on going. When I fail, I know it is only for a moment and I need to pick myself up and get back on track. There's a Chinese proverb - Fall 7 times -get up 8 (or something like that). I will learn from my mistakes and move on! Report
Thank you for posting this,, I have been going through so many things recently and just been feeling like a failure but the thing is I get back u p and work on it again so in so many words that not really failing , someone told me that true failure was not trying again and again ,, so here I am keep working on it! Report
I love the quote by Thomas Edison. It's a reminder that we may be just one step from success when we choose to give up. I'll have to post that one on my mirror! Great article. Very encouraging and motivating. Report
Thank you for the wonderful blog. I joined SparkPeople about a month ago when I read about it on a comment in It is truly a very motivating, as well as supportive site and I have learned so much over these past few weeks. Just as I was beginning to understand how to use, I was starting to read the book, THE ALCHEMIST, by Paulo Coelho. In his introduction, he asked "...Are defeats necessary?" His response to his question is what I have taken to heart. His response to his own question was: "The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight."

Perhaps some may see this as a somewhat pessimistic view of life, but for me, it just reinforces that life is a wonderous journey and we should to try to learn from those "falls" (so we don't hurt ourselves too badly), but we also need to continue to move forward. Report
I have been a nurse for 45 years. I see the results of poor choices on a daily basis and even though I saw myself the results of poor choices, I never took action. Yes, I have been on all the fad diets over the years, but I never stuck to anything more than two weeks. Thanks to Spark People I am still engaged after five weeks! I know I will make it. Thanks for telling your story. Report
“Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit”. Report
Last year, I lost 24 lbs. and this year managed to gain about 12 back. I don't let that get me down, I'm busy exercising, trying to eat right, and hope to lose what I've gained, and 5 more lbs. Great article. Report
This is a great article and touched me. You gave me needed encouragement and I start this day a hopeful person. Thank you. Report
I have learned that I need to make exercise a daily part of my routine. I am a big girl and will never be skinny but I can be healthy.

I have also learned not to concentrate so much on the number of the scale but on my overall health. Knowing and seeing the inches come off is an indicator that I'm on the right track. Report
Two years ago I failed. I walked 4 miles 5 days a week for 3 months. I only lost 2 pounds that summer. I joined weight watchers that fall and found it was my eating habits that really needed to change. In less than a year I lost 28lbs and reached a healthy bmi. Failure made me realize I had to do something new - I had to change how I thought about losing weight. I had to finally just get healthy. Its not about losing weight its about making good healthy choices every single day and never giving up - even if I temporarily fail. Report
This was awesome Nancy, and parts of it brought tears to my eyes. We are never alone. Even if I can't actually see or feel my Spark friends, I know that they are there for me. We face many struggles and challenges through our lives, and it is such a relief to know that there is someone, somewhere out there, who knows how I'm feeling, and can offer just that right word when I need it. I love your blogs Nancy, and am so thankful that you have grabbed hold of this healthy lifestyle so you can be a mentor and friend to so many. Love ya! Report
Like beating myself up when I don't do well (my scale) on a race ..... when I should be celebrating that I ran it at all - when so many others wouldn't even try!

And for us parents - what a great example to our kids - Report
I agree that it is through failure that we hone our skills and talents. It is unfortunate that our school systems have concentrated on sparing children the lessons learned in failure. Every child has to "win". Every child has to be congratulated: no matter how careless their work. As a result, more and more young adults face their first failures when seeking employment or on the job. Awfully late to learn the lesson of how positive failure can be. Report
What have you discovered about yourself regarding your own shortcomings?

Wow, Too many to

Do you see failure as an opportunity to moving you down the road to success?

I see failure as a place that I visit and learn from. We must move on past the city limits of "failure". It will keep you longer than you want to stay. I have been trying to plan my life so that I don't visit this place very often. With all the planning, I still end up driving thru the city of "failure". Next time I'm gonna run the stop sign! lol

I always laugh at people who get a divorce and think they have had such a terrible failure and then later they meet the "love of their life" and things work out great. It is like people who try to get into one career and fail, and have to do something different but later find that they LOVE the job they have. A failure can be a real blessing to turn a person in the right direction. Report
I share similar feelings with what other people have written in response to this insightful blog post about failure. I have often defined myself as a failure and frequently walked away from even trying to lose weight after beginning again and again and then "falling off the wagon". I appreciated the reminder here that I can learn from these failures and look for the ways that they have helped me understand myself and my issues with food more clearly. Report
Great blog! You are speaking for many of us. I love the quotes, too. Report
Thank you for sharing! I felt every word-as though reading my autobiography. You have summed briefly what I often find myself saying, or hover as unrecocognized feeling or insight just at the edge of conciousness. Report
Great blog. I think we need another work for failure because it carries such a negative connotation. You are so right about all the wonderful aspects of our failures which most times we spend so much time weeping over them we fail to see how much progress we have made. Thank you for putting it so well. Report
Great blog, Nancy--so much of your story is like my own! I do believe, unpleasant though it may be, I have learned more from my failures than from my successes. The failures cause me to stop, evaluate what went wrong, and figure out how to do it better the next time. The key is to LEARN from failure and not give up. Thank you! Report
I definitely needed to read this. There is so much I can do now that I could not do last year. Instead of looking at the scale I should focus on those facts...I can walk miles whereas last year I could not even walk one. Great blog - Thank u for this! Report
Failure is not an option, but it is welcomed. I have felt like I have failed as a person, but I am siking myself out. I may not be in the position today of where I want to be or even where I need to be. But I do that life is too short to focus on my shortcoming. I have tried so many strategies to boost my confidence up after a failure, but that is my boost confidence. Thanks for pointing that out. This is a great article for anyone who needs a pick me upper. It was very helpful and also gave me new insights on failure. Report
Awesome blog Nancy!! I LOVE your pure heart of GOLD and the fact that you can bare you soul for the good of others! Thanks for sharing AND caring my friend!

God Bless

I also thought that I knew everything there was to know about losing weight......but I have found out so much on SP and your blog reminded me that it is not just a losing weight journey but a lifestyle. I know that I will face my greatest challenge when it comes to maintenance, but this site will come to my rescue too! Report
I could relate so much to this blog, it brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for giving me a new perspective! Report
I have learned that physical activity is not enough and need to watch portion size! Need to practice the smaller bowl concept more often!! Report
Amazing blog! Very thought provoking. Whether for weight loss, health -- or life in general -- I definitely will pass this one!

Thanks Nancy!

Randy Report
Good reminder to live and learn ... and stop beating myself up along the way. Report
Thanks for sharing Nancy. I love how open and honest you are. You really have inspired me by your actions.
I have never really tried to diet, I just did not care what I weighe or what my helth was like. When I did decide to start this journey, I told no one and have also "told" people by my actions. It really worked for me. I still have chocolate and ice cream, just in moderation. Why live without those things??
I am so proud of you for having the courage to share your story and to encourage others.
God bless you my friend! Report
I've done the same thing, many times...telling others about my have them see me later and not notice any weight's better to just do it, and not say it. Thanks! Report
Excellent blog.......terrific quotes. If we don't fail once in a while we aren't reaching far enough. Report
NWCR reports that most successful losers and successful maintainers report many false starts and relapses until they "got it right."

Apparently people really do learn from their mistakes. I sure know I learned from mine.

In my 20s I lost over 100 lbs and eventually gained it all back plus almost 100 more. Having lived through that experience I can tell you I'm taking the potential for relapse very seriously and this time doing everything I can to boost the likelihood of successful maintenance. Report
Great blog! Thanks Report
Funny, I thought at first this was a Coach Dean blog. Thanks for saying it - your experiences mirror mine in several ways, including the supportive husband!
Nicely written. I too have lost and gained wt throughout my life, and finally decided that I would simply learn to live healthy. Thanks to SP that has come true and the wt is coming off. I really believe in SP's step-wise approach because it allows time for new behaviors to become a habit. Report
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