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Kristin Booker • April 27, 2011

Editor’s Letter: A Word About Failure And Why You Should Never Give Up

After a couple of days of some interesting emails, I’ve recently started thinking about the concept of what it means to fail at something.

I am someone who has a PhD in Being Hard On Myself. I think a lot of us out there are like this, where we have it in our head that things should be a certain way or we put our all into a project and decide to go for it only to face setbacks or things that either deter us from fright or disappointment. Being a fashion and beauty writer was my dream for years and the process to make a living at it has in no way been easy. Like anyone with a dream, I have had (and continue to have) days and whole periods of time where things just don’t go my way. Like everyone else in the world, I’ve failed at many things many times.

So, as someone who faces the word “no” and the harsh perception of my writing and the way I look on a daily basis, I’ve developed a strategy that allows me to recover from setbacks quickly: we’ll call it The PLAN Principle, which goes a little something like this:

P stands for “Pout” – I reserve the right to be upset about setbacks. You may never see me do this in person, but I get upset and cry and sulk like everyone else. I am allowed to do this for exactly one hour if the situation is really upsetting. For really big things, I’m allowed to take the night and watch really crappy tv and a bubble bath.

L stands for “Learn” – What caused the situation? Did I do something that I know not to do again? What do I own from the experience? What has it taught me?

A stands for “Adjust” – The ability to make corrections and move quickly is what will keep whatever it is from becoming a defining failure. What can be tweaked? Scrap whatever wasn’t working to move quickly to something that does. Sometimes the slightest change or deepening your resolve is all that’s needed. A can also stand for “ask for help” if you need to do so. Don’t be afraid to engage the knowledge of others. Knowing what you don’t know makes you way smarter than anyone who thinks they know everything.

N stands for “Never give up” – It’s the difference in accepting something as a final failure rather than a setback. If you let something define you as the “final straw,” then it’s really a failure. If you remain determined to keep moving in the right direction and are willing to do whatever it takes, then it doesn’t matter what gets thrown at you – eventually, you’ll win.

We all face setbacks every day. Diets that get broken, promises that aren’t kept, health concerns that pop up, unexpected financial issues. I know it sounds really cliche and that this whole post might sound like a fortune cookie, but please, do NOT give up.

God knows whenever I get kicked in the gut by a disappointment, I have thought to myself, “Why am I doing this?” You want to know why I don’t give up? Because I don’t know how to do anything else. I want what I want so badly that any other way of being is unacceptable to me. So bring on the kicks and the punches on the way to winning. I’ll take the setbacks rather than accept failure. I’d rather be me than anyone else. Trust me, I’ve tried that. It didn’t work.

What does that have to do with fashion, style or beauty? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. I mean, if Coco Chanel or Estee Lauder or Kelly Wearstler had said, “Screw it,” and not accomplished what they did, where would the world be? Everyone has the right to be master of their own dreams. Don’t give up on yours.

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3 Responses to Editor’s Letter: A Word About Failure And Why You Should Never Give Up

  1. Jannett says:

    I loved your inspiring post…it’s exactly what I needed to read right now. I loved this excerpt ” Knowing what you don’t know makes you way smarter than anyone who thinks they know everything.” You’re so right! (I might need to use that line by the way)

  2. Susan says:

    So encouraging. Thank you.

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