This week I wrote my Failure Résumé

This is another exercise I picked up from What I wish I knew when I was 20 by Tina Seelig and it's terrific.

It sounds like a rather confronting exercise but to be honest, it's very liberating. Acknowledging your mistakes in this fashion gives you the opportunity to reflect on what went wrong, extract the lesson learned and hopefully not repeat the same thing again. 

It’s nearly impossible to learn anything without doing it yourself and failing until you succeed.

A Failure Résumé works just like any normal résumé, just exchange your personal, professional and academic highlights with the more embarrassing, less flattering mistakes you’ve made in those areas. I’ve decided to share my Failure Résumé with you in the hopes it will inspire you to write your own. 

My Failure Résumé 

Professional Failures

Thinking I knew better. Not respecting my bosses in my first job as a graphic designer. I couldn’t hear the lessons and advice they may have been trying to impart on me because I thought knew more than them. Graduating as a designer doesn’t make you one.

Hitting SEND too quickly. I often rush through the final check of projects. I have missed simple errors that would’ve been caught if I’d just closed the file and read it with fresh eyes the next day. 

Not being able to say NO. Up until the last 12 months, I have pretty much said yes to every single job that arrived in front of me. Even if it didn’t make sense for me to do it and came at a cost to myself financially or professionally. 

Academic Failures

Not working hard at university. I wish I had engaged more with the tutors and classes at university. I was more interested in doing enough to pass and getting out of there, rather than really focusing on what was being taught. I’d love to spend 4 hours, every Wednesday afternoon talking to someone who’s super passionate about typography now. Shamefully, C’s get degrees was my mantra.

Not asking for help when I needed it. I was always too embarrassed to ask for further explanation if I didn’t understand something. I worried others would think I didn’t get it so kept my mouth shut. 

Personal Failures

Being committed to MY plan. I have never dealt very well with people changing the plan. I’m super organised and find comfort in knowing what the next step is. When my plan changes, I often react poorly rather than seeing there is more than one way to achieve the same outcome.

Not being able to articulate my emotions. I’m more likely to shut down and storm off in an argument rather than acknowledging what I’m really feeling.  

Not wanting to call strangers on the phone. Ridiculous really, but avoiding conversations over the phone and choosing to write emails or messages instead.


See, I feel lighter already. Confronting my mistakes and being able to extract lessons from those experiences is very powerful. I hope to add to this résumé in the future because it will prove that I’m taking risks and failure is an important part of the learning process. 

Write your own Failure Résumé today, own it and be empowered by the lessons learned.

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