The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 30, 2010.

“Have a great week,” I said to a friend recently. “I hope you succeed at failing.”

She laughed. Of course, she knew exactly what I meant.

My friend is also a Dream Coach client, and we had just finished the session about how failure can lead to success. We had talked about transforming limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs, about the lessons and insights we can gain from our mistakes and missteps, and about the ways in which the failures in our past give us valuable information and resources we can use to help us succeed now in anything we set out to do.

I can think of no time when this is more relevant than at the start of the New Year.

To some people – myself included – New Year’s Resolutions provide the incentive and environment for taking on new challenges or developing and improving healthy habits and practices. But many people consider New Year’s Resolutions to be a joke, since resolutions made and started on January 1 are often abandoned within a few days or weeks, and fall by the wayside long before they’ve had a chance to take effect and produce any positive results.

Although this is true, there are tools, tips, and tricks we can use that will not only promote our success, but will use our past failures – or broken resolutions – to help us succeed.

The first thing we need to do is simply change our mindset. We choose our beliefs, either actively or passively, so we need to start out by declaring – first to ourselves, and then to anyone who will listen – that even though we have failed at something in the past, we are going to succeed this time. We need to convince ourselves that this is so, and the best way to do that is to start acting on it. If we look ahead and envision what success is going to look like and feel like, we can tune out a lot of distractions, including the doubts and the temptations that can weaken our resolve or stop us from moving forward. And if we stay focused on success and keep moving toward it, we will achieve it.

The next thing we need to do is figure out why we failed in the past. We may have taken on too much too soon, or lost interest after a certain amount of time. One setback or slipup may have caused us to give up on our plans, or may have reinforced our belief that we were destined to fail.

Only when we conscientiously examine what it was that caused us to fail can we take steps to change it. If we want and expect a different outcome than the one we’ve always gotten, then we need to figure out and implement whatever it is that we need to do differently. Our past failures provide the best education we need for our present – and future – success.

It was this understanding that led my Dream Coach client to comment, during our session, that maybe she’d go out and try to fail at as many things as she could that week, so she’d have more tools and techniques to help her succeed in the things she really wanted to accomplish. Although she said it as a joke, there was wisdom and power in her words.

Too many of us are afraid of failure, so we give up before we even get started. We allow our dreams and resolutions to die off or fade away at the first setback or sign of distress. And we miss out on all that we could become, or achieve. But if we viewed our past failures as stepping stones and opportunities to learn and grow, they could give us the confidence, conviction, and commitment to succeed in ways we’ve never done before.

As the year 2011 begins, I will make several New Year’s Resolutions, as I always do. I will succeed at some of them and fail at others. But I know they’ll all make me stronger, better, and more accomplished at whatever I am attempting to do.

I hope you, too, will make some New Year’s Resolutions this year, and that they will give you inspiration, insights, and empowerment into all that you can accomplish. I hope you embrace your failures as well as your successes, and that you listen to them and learn from them. If you do, I promise you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

© Betty Liedtke, 2010