November 20, 2015

Failed Again? No, Remember ... by Joylene M. Bailey

As I was making breakfast for my husband the other day, I was ruminating on the fact that I hadn’t been keeping up to the word count goal I had set for myself for the month of November. The immediate thought that popped into my head was, “Failed Again.” Which got me thinking on all the other things I felt I was failing at in my life at present, which led to thinking about all the other times in my life I had been/felt like a failure.

After about 2 minutes of this (a lot can go through your mind in 2 minutes) I suddenly stopped myself. 
I actually said, “NO,” out loud. Because this wasn’t doing anybody, especially me, any good.

I decided to start remembering the times I felt encouraged instead.

When I was at Bible College I had a prof who encouraged us to start an Encouragement File. This was a place to keep anything that had brought cheer or comfort. Any encouragement at all.

The point was that in the future when those discouraging moments came, we should pull out the file and see what others actually saw in us.

So I started a file. 

If it were a few words someone had kindly spoken to me, I would write them down and put them in the file. If it was a card or a letter that made me smile, built me up, I deposited that in the file … anything that lifted me up in that moment.

Eventually I even found and put in that file a card my three younger brothers had made for my tenth birthday. In it they wrote, “You are so bossy but you always think of the best games.” It still brings a smile to my face. And I’m still bossy.

Over the years the file filled with notes from campers I had counseled, piano students I had taught, young women I had mentored.

While I think on all of this I am reminded of my own piano instructor. As a newlywed I was preparing for my Associate Teacher/Performer Piano Exam. My teacher spent 2 whole lessons recording me playing through all of my exam pieces. This was at a level where one piece could take 20 minutes to play. I didn’t appreciate it fully at the time. But every once in awhile I take it out and listen to it. Remembering that I could actually play like that once is so encouraging to me. My teacher knew I would need that some day. Bless her!

I don’t have a writing encouragement file yet since I haven’t written much for the public market, but I know I will need one of those someday.

For now I’ll keep up with my regular Encouragement File, which has conveniently been moved to a computer document. 
This is the story of one of the most recent items entered: 
It had been a discouraging day but at the bank, the young teller complimented my perfume and asked what fragrance I was wearing. 
When I told him what it was he said, “It’s a head-turning fragrance.”
Well, I walked out of that bank with a smile and a lighter step, all the way to my car where I thumbed out the exchange on my smartphone.

Remembering encouragement does wonders for the "Failed Agains".

Photo credit:


  1. Anonymous6:53 am GMT-7

    An encouragement file! What a wonderful idea! And loved the encouragement from your siblings. :) I am a big advocate of always looking at our successes every day, even if it is just making the coffee right that morning. It is the nutrition to keep us moving in hope.

    1. You are so right, Lynn. I love thinking of it as 'nutrition to keep us moving in hope'. I'm going to remember that, thanks.

  2. Your piano teacher recording your session of those big pieces? I used to play classical guitar. I wish, now, I could hear what I was able to do back then. Maybe parents can take that idea for their kids in music lessons now!

    For a writing encouragement file, it strikes me that some would see this as their bio. But no, we need to keep a side-bio. One where we collect not just the name of what we've written and published, but the responses that come in over time. Now that's a Writing Encouragement File! (I think I'll start that right now, because oh, how quickly we forget.)

  3. Brilliant! I want to start one of these encouragement files

  4. Love this idea! And needed this encouragement today. Thank you Joylene

  5. Thank-you, exactly what I needed to hear ... I have had sporadic "encouragement files" but this sums it up well. What a great answer to the "failed again" voice that keeps popping up! Glad to hear that you talk to yourself out loud as well. Many of our worst naysayers are within us :-(

    1. Very true Jocelyn. I am often my worst enemy. As far as talking out loud to myself, I once had someone (who knows) tell me that it is a sign of intelligence. So be encouraged! 😃

  6. Okay, maybe this is overkill by my super-organized self, but I'm thinking I need to have a file (Scrivener would work well, or Notebook Layout for Word) with a tab for each of the items I've published, or completed and put 'out there'. Then when positive encouragement comes back, I can save it with the actual written work. On days when my writing feels onerous, I can go back to it and see how my words have positively impacted someone. Yup. I think I'll do just that!

    1. Bobbi, this is an excellent overly organized idea. 😊 Go for it.

  7. I love the idea of an Encouragement File. I wish I had started one of those when I was young. For the last couple of years I've been writing everyday in a Thanksgiving Journal which is similar because when I go back and read what I wrote, I remember and am encouraged. A Writing Encouragement File sounds like a good idea too. Thanks.

  8. I too am encouraged by your encouragement-file idea. I appreciate how you ended your diatribe of personal naysaying with a resounding, "No!" Thanks for that. We don't need to listen to others talk trash about us. Nor should we allow ourselves to talk that way. God has created us for better things and better ways.

  9. I love the idea of the encouragement's an encouragement just thinking about it :) Thanks


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