Un-Failing at Life: 2016 Retrospective  

Early 2017 has tuned into “second chance” to build a pretty awesome career and life. But I never would’ve gotten here if I hadn’t made some major changes in 2016.

In this (hopefully) monthly series, I want to examine my attempts to “un-fail” at life. I’ve realized that success isn’t a matter of luck or achievement, but being able to overcome and learn from failures. Here are the three major changes I made in 2016, as well as why they required “un-failing”:

Going vegan/gluten-free

Pros: Losing more than 20% of my body weight in a year (which set off an alert at my last doctor’s appointment)

Cons: Becoming Peak Liberal White Woman, being unable to eat Polish food, the horrors of gluten-free baking

“Un-Failure”: Not only were gluten and dairy the lynchpin of a serious food addiction, they were making me a bloated, irritable, generally unpleasant person

Scaling down to one-room living

Pros: Being the only person in Seattle paying rent in the low three-figures, the catharsis of dumping 10 years’ worth of clutter/academic work/bad decisions

Cons: Having housemates for the first time in five years (it’s actually not that bad…), being stuck with just one cat (well below my family’s average of ten…)

“Un-Failure”: When I had my own place, I was living beyond my means and racking up a fair bit of debt, I also wasn’t as hardcore about simplicity and organization as I should’ve been

Launching Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist

Pros: Establishing my career goal of making jazz education less competitive/more accessible, integrating my interests in music/teaching/instructional design

Cons: Reliving my dissertation (in which I foolishly told people, “I’ll be done with it later this month!” for over a year…)

“Un-Failure”: Health issues aside, I spent a decade too afraid and ashamed to pursue the career I wanted (and in neurotic pursuit of one I didn’t) – this marked an important first step in pursuing an authentic, fulfilling career on my own terms


What changes did you make in 2016 that set you up for success (or at least “un-failing”) in 2017?

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

2 thoughts on “Un-Failing at Life: 2016 Retrospective  ”

  1. 2016 was my “Year of Saying No.” Sort of the metaphysical equivalent of dumping the things from my life that no longer work and moving into one room…but a room with a large window and and better view.

    1. I’ve gone through that same process before and know what you mean about the catharsis it brings. During one of my breakdowns (a partial result of never saying no), my told me, “Remember – an opportunity is not an obligation.” It’s been one of my mantras ever since.

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