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Fail better, see 2009 differently, and suck the marrow out of it.

Picture credit:  kk+


Have you heard anyone say 2009 was a bad year? 

What about those who reckon they'll be glad to see the back of it while hoping for a fresh start in 2010?

We hear that every year. 

Personally, I've had a year of tough times and good times in approximately equal measure.  But I usually get the feeling around mid-December, that the coming year will be better.  And why shouldn't it be, I'm smarter through experience right? 


Well, at least,  not entirely right!

Oh yea, before I carry on, I'm just going to remind myself, that no matter how difficult our year might have been (those of us reading this), our lives, on the whole, are likely to be infinitely better, in so many ways, than perhaps the majority of people living on our planet today.  But of course, that doesn't stop us wanting to improve and make the most of our opportunities so we can help others too does it?

2010 may be no better (or worse) than 2009, unless we decide to make it so. 

Sure, there are some factors in '09 that were totally out of our control, but plenty of others were TOTALLY WITHIN OUR POTENTIAL TO TAKE CONTROL.  By making this distinction - honestly and without fear -   we can set ourselves up for putting our focus and efforts in the right place in '10.

So before we let 2009 slip away faster than my friend Andy when it's his turn to get the drinks, just have a think about 2009 and what we can learn.


Because there's little point thinking 2010 will be much better unless we take full responsibility for the stuff we cocked-up this year.  When we do that, we can ask "what the hell can I learn from this so I'm less likely to mess up those same things again?" - this has nothing to do with a so-called bad economy, I'm thinking about bad thinking, and that produces bad (or no!) action.

I've had a few fantastic wins this year. 

Oh yes, I've made progress in 2009 that's taken me beyond my own expectations. 

And you know what?  Because I've learned so much and made so many amazing connections this year, I'm so looking forward to the stuff I've got planned for next year, really excited! 

Before I go there though, I have to admit I also made some daft and costly mistakes that were pretty much the exact duplicate of ones I'd made in '08, and before that in '07 etc. too!  Absolutely nothing to do with tough external circumstances - which we all faced to some degree or other - but everything to do with my bad choices or failure to take the right kind of action (you must be thinkin' I'm a right arse, but hang on will ya!). 

So, that experience thing (measured solely in years) ......is usually B/S.  I know people with loads more "experience" than I have in certain areas, and they're still idiots after thirty years making the same stupid mistakes, and they appear unconcerned to have learned almost nothing (oh well, perhaps they just enjoyed the ride?).  I definitely don't want to be like that and I bet you don't either.

"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter, try again, fail again, fail better." Samuel Beckett

So here's the thing:  We absolutely must have the balls to look our failures right in the eye and listen to what they tell us.  (Some never reach that level of awareness, so we have a massive advantage!)

We need to "fail better". 

This is what I did:

*  I made a list of all the significant stuff that went wrong for me in 2009. 

*  I tried to make an honest list - I don't think I glossed over anything.  (Some folk never get honest with themselves, and therefore, may never know the joy of conscious living.)

*  I spotted some stuff that could easily have been better, and I've made a note of exactly "how".

*  Seeing how it could have been better is helping me move on and feel more confident about tackling the likely challenges (and hazards) of 2010.

By choosing to see 2009 as (in itself) neither good nor bad, I've given myself chance to learn from it and hopefully, suck some of the juicy marrow from what may otherwise have been just a pile of left over bones.


Enjoyed this post?  You'll love "Seven Reasons Why 2010 Will Be Your Best Year Yet".

Thanks very much for reading this post.  Have you failed at all in 2009?  What's the most important thing you learned from it?  How could we "fail better"?  I always enjoy and appreciate your comments, so please leave one.  Much love, Ian.

Your comments:

Chris says:
30/12/2009 16:44:59

Finally catching up with you after all these years is certainly in the positive list from 2009 and helped cement a lot of things in place about at lesast trying to do something to make a difference. Good on yer fish-head - and wherever www.1forme1foryou.org does or doesn't go - the very fact it got going is partly down to you. Oh, and that's a complement by the way!! Chris
vj says:
30/12/2009 11:49:06

Thanks much Ian, at times it's emotionally volatile and one feels like to adjust between sails, now your blog cheered me up. I'm in India at home these days, well feeling nice to read your blog from home. I get back to my Manchester uni next month. Hope you had a happy Christmas and wishing you a joyful New Year ahead. Cheers.
Kazeem says:
30/12/2009 11:15:36

Another really good thinking from your stable Ian. I know a lot of good things has happened to me this year. Hey, I met you on Twitter (www.openlta.org). There are other things I need to work on. I will now sharpen my pencils list all these things like you suggested and make 2010 the year I 'kick ass'! Just joking. Many thanks and good luck 2 u.
Susan McNaughton says:
30/12/2009 00:27:40

Always worth reading your posts, Ian. I prefer not to start planning for next year until I've got my year end accounts done for my business. Just need to get some of the admin sorted before getting strategic again. Just the way my small business works. Happy New Year. Lang may yer lum reek!


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  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running