3 Reasons Why I Failed And How You Don’t Have To

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do GREAT THINGS.

Because of that, I have had a lifelong passion for the study of personal transformation.  For decades now, I have practiced a daily program of personal discipline and loving service.

And yet, when it came to implementing my own Big Dream, I was a complete failure.  I would start working toward my dream.  Something would happen and I would stop for a while, promising myself to get back to it.

But then that something led to something else and something after that also needed attention.  And, before you knew it, I had completely forgotten that I even had a dream outside of the obligations I had already made.

There were children involved, after all.  And mortgages to be paid, family members to care for, cupcakes to bake, meetings to attend — and stuff like that there.

I loved a lot of it.  But I didn’t love the part where I didn’t really get a turn in my own life.  Basically, my responsibilities ate my dream.

jennifer boykinNow, that isn’t entirely true.  My children, our home, my family are all certainly part of my dream.  What I’m talking about here is that “other” dream — the one that has been calling to me since my earliest memory.  The one that tells me I’m here to create something unique and fresh and that ONLY I can do this thing.

I know what this thing is.  AND, I’m successfully doing it now.  But for years, I was completely thwarted in my attempt to sustain action toward my own dreams.

Here’s why:

1. I didn’t understand – really understand and accept – that there are indeed seasons to life. 

In fact, when older, wiser women suggested this to me, I was quite resentful.  I believed I was powerful enough to overcome things like time and space and resources and hours in the day.   But I repeatedly failed.  And when I would get down on myself for not “doing my dream,” they would patiently talk of seasons and that damn “time and place” for everything and blah and blah and blah and blah.

I didn’t want to hear it.  Because I was afraid I wouldn’t get that next season.  After all, people do die young.  My daughter had.  And because I had an over-developed sense of my own mortality, I kept thrashing between action and frustration.

Solution:  Work on deep acceptance and lean into the precious present.  Set very small baby steps toward the place you want to go and work consistently toward that dream.   In the meantime, cultivate a deep appreciation for all that you actually have right now.  Avoid chronic dissatisfaction.  It makes your life extremely unhappy and it pushes people, who otherwise might be in a position to help you, away.

2. I lacked humility. 

Now this didn’t necessarily manifest as “I’m all that and a bag of chips.”  Instead, my grandiosity came in a subtler, more cunning guise.  It told me that the only path to success was a series of grand, sweeping gestures, and that if you didn’t have the money, time, and energy to make that big splash, there was no way anyone would take you seriously.

Solution:  Well, to be fair to myself, this part was going on during that whacky decade when “over-consumption was king,” so I had lots of social support that led to this particular problem.  What I know today though is that, although I am very gifted at what I do today, I’m really just a “worker among workers.”  In other words, I’m more right-sized about the limits of my own humanity.  This has required me to take better care of myself, so that I have the physical, emotional, and spiritual health to sustain long-term change.

3. I was too focused on what I wanted rather than how I could serve. 

I could see myself on stage changing hearts and inspiring souls.  I could see myself writing books and “being read.”  I could see all of it.  But I didn’t really see Beautiful You.  In other words, I was overly focused on what this “new life” would do for ME.

Solution:  I needed to bring YOU into the mix.  I needed to keep YOUR needs at the center of my vision.  I needed to get clear – really, really, clear – about what I’m extraordinarily good at, but also what I can’t or don’t want to do.  When I put my focus on you, it became very clear whom I was supposed to serve and how I was supposed to that.   Today, I have a clearly defined “tribe.”  I know what they need, and I know myself well enough to know what piece of that I can provide.  And, go figure, we have a thriving community and I am, at last, building the dream business I always hoped for.

man typing on laptop overcome failure as a blogger

Ironically, all the wonderful stuff I hoped for myself back in my more fearful, self-centered days is coming true.  My first book has been embraced by thousands of people and is creating breakthroughs in 147 countries.  I love speaking for audiences wherever I go.

Related: 21 Extraordinary Things To Be Passionate About In 2021

My work is now featured on major media outlets.  I have a League of Giants whom I’m proud to call my dearest colleagues and friends (including the amazing Barrie Davenport here at Live Bold and Bloom).  And I am creating an abundant life for the family I love.

It’s been a long time coming, though, and I hope that by sharing the mistakes I made, I can help you have a smoother journey.  Please let me know how I can help.  In the comments below, share a bit about what you hope for your Big Bold Life and Barrie and I will do what we can to see that you Bloom.

Jennifer Boykin, the Creative Visionary and Chief Rabble Rouser behind the midlife reinvention movement Life After Tampons, happily makes trouble for a living.  She also speaks, teaches, and writes about adversity, triumph, and Women Who Rise. 

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20 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why I Failed And How You Don’t Have To”

  1. So true – I was miserable, and then figured out that I needed to practice small steps. So I went back to school, and took 6 years to get my master’s degree. Now that it’s done, I suddenly went into a tailspin expecting everything to change overnight now that I have that piece of paper! Back to the small steps again! Networking, blogging, building it slowly even though it doesn’t feel like I have that much time left!

    • Hi, Sue. I know well that feeling of increased sense of urgency coupled with confusion of what to do next. I think you’re on the right track when you decide to do just one small thing at a time, working consistently toward change. By the way, I also took nearly 8 years to finish my Master’s Degree while my babies were small.

  2. Dearest Jennifer, you are doing the exact right thing for the exact right reason, at the exact right time in the perfect way to touch those of us who need to hear your words of courage, wisdom, and love! Everything wasn’t absolutely perfect before because we weren’t ready and neither were you! You have a breathlessly astonishing voice! Keep it up!

  3. That service piece is really the key. A friend of mine once said, “When you are all wrapped up in yourself you make a very small package.” When I open my heart and am of service to others magic happens.

    Thanks for the great reminders Jennifer.

  4. I agre with the idea that you need not focus jsut on what you wan. Zig ziglar said it – you can get anything you want if you help enough people get what they want…
    Getting focused on others and their need – it is interesting that you say so. I recently read a book that my coach published, it is called “Your Personal Superpower – The Secret to Lasting Success in Everything You Do” (it is on amazon), and I think that it gives a good idea on how to get what you want by focusing on what you do best that has value for others. Kind’a like what you said here.

    • I remember Mr. Ziglar saying that, actually years and years ago when I was just starting out. He had the most amazing delivery as a speaker.

  5. I guess everybody has to grow up and see what is really important on some point. Sadly most of people miss this point.

  6. Jennifer, I love to hear your writing whenever I pop into it. I think you possess both humor, humility, and hope.

    I too find it hard to remember their our seasons in life. My kids are both in school but still don’t feel like I can completely devote myself to all my dreams. I think I accept this season more now, and am trying to enjoy the ride.


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