404 The Anti-Resolution

The Anti-Resolution

If you’re like me, you have probably already OD’d on hearing about New Year’s Resolutions or the One Word of the year. I’m pretty sure I read my body weight in blog posts about these subjects. It’s all good and very ambitious. But what would it look like to have an anti-resolution for the year?

A good friend of mine named Carla just started blogging. She inspired me to something I’ve never had the courage to face with the right perspective:


More importantly, failing well. It’s easy to talk about, it’s quite another thing to live it. It requires living bravely, communicating bravely and doing so without apology. I’m not talking about trampling over people for your own mission. I’m talking about jumping without a net and not apologizing when you break your leg.

Like anyone else, I have a long list of things I want to accomplish. I want to write more. I want to publish something of value not directly related to my blog. I want to succeed at my new job. I want to eat better. I want to get healthy. Most importantly, I want to succeed at being a great husband in my first year of marriage.

But for the first time, I’m coming into this year expecting to fail. I expect to fail because I refuse to live safe and reserved like in years past.

I want to fail and fail well. Then get back on my feet and try something even more impossible. I want to do this all without apologizing.

I’m confident that every meaningful failure will lead to more growth than a safe victory ever could. I’m confident that every significant failure will lead me to a meaningful success because it is only when I am no longer afraid to fail that I will achieve the impossible.

The biggest failure for me this year will be if I never failed at something of significance.

So here’s to New Years and new beginnings, new failures and new successes!


  1. I think that the subject of failing well can be a difficult subject to handle. But kudos to you Tony, you handled it very well. while I pray that you succeed at everything new and adventurous that you are doing in 2012, I do hope that if you fail, that you fail forward.

    Just be on the lookout in particular for your new job/ministry. This was the area where I failed when I left the business world and started working for my church. There are just some things that don’t fly in the spiritual world the way that they do in the business world.

    But then again, you are a much smarter guy than I am and I don’t think you really have that much to worry about πŸ™‚

    • Speaking of fail forward, I’m planning on reading Max Lucado’s book of the same name this year. Someone recommended it to me in the comments and it sounds like something that will resonate with me this year.

      I also have a feeling I’ll be writing about the tension of moving from corporate to church a lot this year. I don’t expect to have do everything perfectly and I’m willing to learn from any and all my mistakes! I’ll be looking forward to your wisdom too!

  2. YES.

    So so good.

  3. My focus last year was risk and I took a few. And I failed a few times. I learned so much that it was well worth it and it has pushed me to risk even more.
    seekingpastor recently posted..This and That

  4. We need to give ourselves permission to try new things, and that means failure is part of the bargain. I heard a story on the radio about a guy who heard a motivational talk about never giving up, and so he started his own online talk show, quite his job the day after his first episode, and dragged his family through 3 years of hell because he refused to give up despite losing their home and wrecking just about everything else. If only he’d let himself fail at that, learn some lessons, and plan ahead for something else… It was such a powerful story about what happens when we fail at failing!
    ed cyzewski recently posted..Disconnecting: 3 Lessons from a Season of Rest

    • Wow, that sounds like a sobering lesson he learned! Like I told some others, I’m not looking to fail per se, it’s more about overcoming the fear of it. Like that story demonstrates, that fear has the potential to derail your life if you can’t just accept it, learn from it and move on.

  5. “I’m confident that every meaningful failure will lead to more growth than a safe victory ever could.”


  6. What I hear you saying is that expecting to fail and having the will to rise again is what will make your year (or day or week or month or life) more joyful. You will cast aside other’s expectations in place of a solid understanding that failure is not, in fact, the end of the world. That failure can result in positive changes or knowledge. I like this. Not that you won’t apologize if you hurt someone, but that you won’t be surprised when failure happens. It happens to all of us! Well said, friend.

  7. Great points! I’m expecting to fail and learn from it as well. Here’s to a 2012 full of successes AND successful failures!
    Sundi Jo recently posted..Why You Need To Stop Making Resolutions

  8. Love it, Tony.
    Shawn Smucker recently posted..A Letter to My Daughters (Ages 7 and 3)

  9. I value this perspective Tony…I do. For me personally though, I need focus. With my mind with the way it works…I need to have the goals to achieve something in place. I don’t set resolutions…I have just resolved (commited) to focus on one aspect in life per year. Hence why I do engage in choosing One Word. This year it is to finish…because this is where I often fall short in my life. To finish anything truly significant. Failure is inevitable in the meantime, and I am fully aware of this. And though I am not keen on failure, I know the tool it serves when I do fall short. It has been an overcoming battle for me to come to this understanding and embracement of failure due to so many in my life who have often given me nothing but encouragement to fail in the worst of ways, and been so rejected by so many. So in my focus on one word for the year – something that helped me greatly last year – I don’t lose sight of the reality that failure will happen…but it’s not that it happens, it’s what I do with it to help me keep focus on focus I have chosen.
    Marni Arnold recently posted..Holding Onto Christmas

    • I wanted to take a moment to elaborate a bit here for a moment, now that I thought some things through since my last comment…

      ..I know your challenge here isn’t for everyone, Tony. πŸ™‚ I just want to be clear that I understand that. πŸ™‚

      We are all in our own seasons of life – but I must say I fully agree with you on how we need to view failure and how we use it as a proper tool to propel us forward. For a multitude of failures creates success…because if we never fall, we can never learn how to get back up and correct what made us fall in the first place.

      It’s all a matter or allowing ourselves to fall, even amidst the goals we set, so God can be revealed to us – and through the corrective measures we take in His guidance through failures, success will be revealed by the way of our testimonies [of failing] shining light on Him, rather than on ourselves.
      Marni Arnold recently posted..Holding Onto Christmas

      • Hey Marni, thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t knock goals and I love that your want to focus on finishing. That’s a really big one for me too.

        I’m not glorifying failure here and it’s not that I don’t want to succeed. What’s been the biggest obstacle in my life is the fear of failure and subsequently the focus on that failure.

        I want to determine not to be afraid of failure by doing things that I wouldn’t have thought possible before. I want to recondition myself not to flinch at the possibility of failure. I believe that when I do that, I’ll do more significant things than ever before!

        • Tony, I totally get this! Totally! πŸ˜€

          This is an awesome focus for you…because you will reap something great out of it to help propel you further! And that is what it’s all about in the grand scheme of things…what can we do, in God’s strength and through His guidance (through our obedience to Him), to propel us in the direction He sends us to accomplish His purpose through our lives? I eagerly look forward to what He has yet to do through you, my friend! And though I am no fortune teller (or even try to be)…I can already tell it is something great! πŸ˜€
          Marni Arnold recently posted..Drink First, Then Eat

        • I just thought of a book…not sure if you have read it or not…but I am going to throw it out there. Ever read “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson?
          Marni Arnold recently posted..Drink First, Then Eat

  10. Nice read, totally explains why I was frustrated most of my 2011, I hated failure, it drove me crazy! Now, that I look back, I failed well and this has given a better start to 2012. Hoping that I will take failure with kindness this time.

    Thanks Tony
    Ritah recently posted..Date a Girl Who Reads

  11. Being honest, I’m tired of failure in my life. I know it’s how we learn, change and grow stronger but I can’t remember the last time I really celebrated a true success. But I know i can’t stop because God didn’t stop on me.
    Jason recently posted..The moving target

    • I completely understand. It’s not as difficult to talk about failure when things are good in life. But I think that’s part of why I’m doing it. I want to walk forward with my eyes wide open and stop fearing failure so much.

      I can’t count how many times I failed simply by not trying.

  12. I really appreciate your perspective with this. Embracing failure isn’t something I do naturally, and is something I need to work on. It’s inevitable, and proof that I’ve at least tried something. Thanks for sharing.
    Jakz recently posted..the little things

    • I think that’s the thing, it isn’t natural for any of us. There are very few people I know that have ever encouraged me to do something even if I fail. So much focus goes to talking about success that we get terrified of failure. I’m ready to change my mind about how I view failure.

  13. Expecting to fail. I like that. Especially since it’s grounded in a healthy refusal to live safe and secure.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Deeper: New Creation

  14. I like how this post ties in with one Jeff Goins had a few weeks ago about making a decision, and if that decision isn’t the best, to just make another decision. It’s like trial and error. But, I must always be sure that my attempts are in line with His best for me. And, that I am giving it my all. A good reminder for me that being excellent and giving my best is not the same as being perfect.

    I’m a perfectionist at heart. Performance based results are like a drug to me. Learning to fail, and be broken, incomplete, and imperfect, is something God has been teaching me this past year. More importantly, learning to share my failures with others is what helps me to grow from them. If I hide them and pretend they don’t exist, I’m lying to myself, God, and my friends and family. I can’t be the best Keri I can be if I’m hiding the broken parts, my failures, and not examining them and reflecting on them.
    Keri recently posted..Ask Pop Parables: Earbuds in Public Okay?

    • Making sure my attempts are in line with His best for me is definitely important but I also don’t want to get caught up in over-thinking. I have that tendency as well.

      When I’m walking in humility with pure motives, most of my ambitions line directly up with him. Many times failure is just a symptom of not trusting Him or doing too much in my own strength.

      If I over think it, I’ll never move forward. It’s not that I want to fail per se, I just don’t want to be afraid of it any longer.

  15. “The biggest failure for me this year will be if I never failed at something of significance”

    Love that, Tony. How many failures is too much? I understand the concept of not being afraid of failure and taking risks but how far is too far? When do you know to call it quits?
    David Santistevan recently posted..5 Proven Tips For Reading More In 2012

    • David, these are such great questions. To be honest, I don’t know yet. I believe this is going to be a big part of my journey this year. I have a feeling I’ll be writing directly about your questions from some of the experiences I encounter this year.

      I don’t want to be afraid of failure and I don’t want to be afraid to throw in the towel and call it quits either. Obviously, it depends on what I’m doing (I would never quit my marriage) but I’m sure there are instances when it’s time to call it quits and regroup. That’s what I’m hoping to live out this year.

  16. Tony!

    What a challenge, bro! I’ll be honest, your entry has challenged and made me a little nervous at the same time…failure is an issue I need to pray about a lot :o)

    Good words man

    • I’ll be honest, it makes me nervous too! I don’t say that I want to fail in a flippant way. I know it’s going to be tough but I don’t want to let fear control my life.

  17. Thomas Mason says:

    Interesting twist…failing well. It’s so natural and so easy to want to succeed and not fail. I fear failure (a lot), but perhaps failure should be embraced because it’s in the failures that we learn from our mistakes and come out stronger the next time. Good word, man!

    • Part of why I want to fail this year is to overcome the fear of it in the first place. Fear keeps me frozen from doing so many things and it is directly related to not succeeding. I don’t want to refrain from doing anything just because of the fear of failure.

  18. Enjoying the thoughts Tony! I wrote a pseudo resolution post too based on simple principles, but I really like your take. I too hope to fail this year because I am trying new things.
    Thanks man!
    Chris Lautsbaugh recently posted..The Secret to Success in 2012

    • A big part of my failure includes doing new things but also things that are bigger than me. It’s then that I will have to lean on God the most.

      I’m pretty sure that many failures come from trying to do too much on our own. What I hope to learn from all this is how to completely depend on God in all areas of my life.

  19. That’s a great perspective. Sometimes our greatest achievements are a direct result of our failures.
    Sele Mitchell recently posted..Without You

    • That’s definitely been a truth in my life. Although hindsight is always 20/20. It’s tough to have the right perspective when you’re in the middle of it. This year I want 20/20 vision looking forward so even in the midst of the failure, I can be confident that there will be fruit coming from it.

  20. Amen! One of my favorite quotes, “falling down doesn’t make you a failure…staying down does” Get up!!
    Eileen recently posted..A Community on Wheels

    • Great quote, Eileen! Another one I’ve heard is “failure is an event, not a person.” It’s crazy how we can tie our identity to our failures (and successes) as well.

  21. I love what you said about failing. I have a post on my drafts that I’ve been working on titled “Disciples fail”. Failure is a great motivator (if we allow it to be). We can learn so much from it. Experience is always a better teacher than “text” knowledge. And often it comes through failing. Hey, and success is going from failure to failure until you succeed. A win my friend.

    Fail well!
    Moe recently posted..WELCOME TO DISCIPULUS

  22. Tony, way to go for avoiding the “one word” or “resolution argument. I think you’re right on, my friend. I think if there’s one anti-resolution I could come up with, it would be to abolish the FEAR of failure once and for all.

    The truth is, the people who are happiest in life are people who have learned to fail WELL! just like you said. They’re people who have failed OFTEN and failed FAST. But they were brave and bold enough to keep on keeping on when everything around them said it couldn’t be done.

    Wishing you a great new year, my friend!
    Bryan Thompson recently posted..Why 2012 Year Will be the Year You KILL IT and Change Your Life!

    • Fear is that one nemesis that I know I will be fending off for my entire life. Almost all of my negative responses in life stem from fear.

      I’m glad you’re choosing to focus on overcoming fear. I’m sure you’ll find so much freedom when you see how entangled it is in your life and choose to fight through it.

      And a great new year to you as well, Bryan!

  23. This is exactly what I have to do. It is so hard.

    I think you will find my new year’s post interesting.

  24. I am reminded of Maxwell’s book – Failing Forward. It is has been a long time since I have read it but you summed it up pretty well. My personal thought is those who fail are doing something and attempting great things which is more than what most people do in life. Most people are too afraid to step out and fail. I want to go and fail boldly because at least I am doing something!

    I am not a resolution guy either but I like to tell myself and tell people to make a life change and no have a resolution that will only last a few weeks at most.

    Praying for you new adventure!
    Jim F recently posted..Enjoying Life and Boundaries


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