Failure Résumé

In the first week of my online microschool, Self-Directed Learning 101, I asked the teens to create “failure résumés”—vulnerable lists that share the goals they’ve fumbled, opportunities they’ve missed, and personal values they haven’t lived up to.

The point of writing a failure résumé is to see learning as a process of continuous experimentation, to combat perfectionism, and to experience a “growth mindset” and the “design process” (pardon the edu-jargon).

When I gave them the assignment, I shared with them a failure résumé I created from the perspective of 18-year-old Blake. Then I sat down and wrote a new one from the perspective of current (38-year-old) Blake—which, in the spirit of openness and vulnerable disclosure, I share below.

For the record, I define a “failure” as a big goal which I took seriously yet did not achieve. I don’t necessarily regret my failures; they’re often the most important learning experiences in my life.


  • filling various unschool adventures trips (16 programs cancelled between 2010-2019)
  • purchasing a summer camp (2016)
  • starting an alternative boarding school, a.k.a. “hogwarts for unschoolers” (2015)
  • maintaining an important business partnership (2010)
  • starting a homeschool curriculum business (2009)
  • fulfilling my work contracts with various seasonal employers (i quit many of my jobs without much notice from 2005-2010)


  • biking across the USA (2020)
  • hiking the te araroa (new zealand’s south island, 2019)
  • hiking the pacific crest trail (mexico to canada, 2005)


  • moving to germany for love (2019 & 2020)
  • ending an important relationship in an honorable way (2013)


  • completing a 10-day silent meditation retreat (2019)
  • kicking my sugar addiction (serious attempts in 2013, 2015, 2020)
  • completing the NaNoWriMo writing challenge (2006 & 2009)



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