When Things Fail To Work Out, That Doesn’t Always Mean You Wasted Your Time

Whenever something doesn’t work out in the end, it’s easy to use hindsight as a basis for arguing that the risk should have never been taken to begin with.

“They should’ve never gotten married in the first place,” we say after hearing of a divorce.

“They should have never started that business to begin with,” we say after hearing news of a new company shutting down.

“They should have never tried X because X didn’t work.”

This logic is based on a prevailing but unhealthy assumption that says life shouldn’t be lived unless you can guarantee successful results. That assumption is nonsense.

The most meaningful experiences are not always about things working out. The most meaningful experiences are often about learning to cope with loss and learning to extract wisdom from disappointment. Finding meaning in our misfortunes, mishaps, and mistakes isn’t just some second-rate consolation prize. It’s a skill that’s demanded of us at every stage of life precisely because it’s the foundation for happiness and personal growth.

If we had the power to go back and undo all the decisions that led to failure, we would annihilate every beautiful thing that has ever emerged from our evolution.

Uncertainty is what makes life interesting. The reality of failure is what makes uncertainty possible. The refusal to define success only in terms of getting what we want is what makes us intelligent, creative, and ultimately human.