Success is Not Final; Failure is Not Fatal

While watching a movie tonight I heard a quote that caught my attention. That led me to another quote. Both are attributed to, but most certainly not actually said by, Winston Churchill. Regardless of who said them, the words hold meaning:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Philadelphia Water Works 1.7.18

Welcome to 2018. People make resolutions and break resolutions because they are, in my opinion, fleeting optimistic traditions, fundamental miscalculations of time, and overestimations of willpower. That might be a bit reductionist, but that’s how I see it. I could say “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year!” but this can of root beer and half a vegan reuben sandwich next to my laptop would beg to differ. I think there is something to be said for optimism, but I also believe in a heavy dose of self-awareness.

I’m not anti-resolution. In fact, I really enjoy making lofty goals for myself that I almost always fall short of. Falling short isn’t the part I enjoy; I believe that making plans alone is enough motivation to actually follow through on a lot of things. In my experience the key to staying motivated and excited about something is to always have something to be working towards. Something to look forward to. Having something on the horizon towards which you can steer your ship is crucial to making even a little headway. Otherwise you’re just drifting out to sea, and that makes it very easy to lose interest and forget your initial goals.

I do prefer to use the word goals instead of resolution, just to keep myself from feeling like I’m doing this for someone else. Thus, my GOALS for this year are:

  1. To be honest with myself. This is something of a general goal that bleeds into my other goals. It seems prudent to be genuine, but also to take stock about the real reasons for my motivations. Why do I choose to eat or drink the things I do? Why am I choosing a TV show over exercise or reading? What do I really want out of life? That got a bit existential at the end, but you see the point.
  2. To commit to making better art. At the end of the day, I really enjoy creating. Whether that means taking photos, making videos, writing poetry, or playing music, it all comes down to making something from nothing. I love the process as much as the finished product, but I find my enthusiasm waning at times. This goes back to taking stock and being honest, but I know that once I get started on something the desire is there, and I am committing to remember that and start things!
  3. To travel to a new country! This is cliché, but what would a New Years Resolution Goal be without one? Even though I find myself traveling often for one reason or another, I also make vague plans each year to finally get to Switzerland or Iceland or Thailand. All the while I take no steps toward actually doing it, thereby putting it off for another year. Not this time. I fully intend to step foot in (at least) one new country in 2018. I need some content for this blog after all..

I’m leaving it at 3 because anything further seems like asking to fail. I will, however, add a 3b: finally get to Alaska. I want to travel more of Canada this year and also cross the 50th state off my list once and for all. I’ve had conversations debating the legitimacy of crossing things off lists in this manner, but, as I argued, this is not at all arbitrary, and I have no intention of sitting in the Anchorage airport and glibly checking the last box off the list on some Facebook quiz. I want to experience Alaska just like I want to experience so many other places. I have lists of hikes and sights I’d like to see, and I also have a couple of friends there, so I have high hopes that it will be a memorable visit!

Union Lake, Millville, NJ 1.6.18

So far this year I have been skiing in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, seen more snow in New Jersey than anytime I can remember even when I lived here, and had my camera out most days trying to capture a unique shot of the day. I hope to continue this trend of being present, while also continuing to travel to new places, meet new people, and learn new things on a regular basis. It sounds like I’m making a whole new list, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead! Happy New Year and may you achieve all of your Goals this year! Even if you don’t, just remember:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”




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