Starting Over After Failure 7 Tips to Put You Back on the Right Path
We all fail in life at one point or another. Disappointments and heartaches don't escape any of us and those who try to avoid taking risks tend to end up even more unhappy than those who accept failure as an option. We hear the mantras all the time “If at first you don't succeed” etc.
What about those times when nothing seems to help?
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by regret or defeated when you failed to reach a goal you set for yourself? We've all been there at one point or another and it's a painful feeling, but it can be turned around and used for something positive.
Failure can be an excuse to be a victim or a catalyst to new, creative thinking. It's always a choice. No matter how defeated you feel, you have the power to choose what you will do with that experience going forward.
The Societal Influence on Fear of Failure
We live in a society that is obsessed with “perfection” and success. People go to great lengths to prove themselves and compete with others. We are so obsessed as a culture with perfect looks, making money, etc. that the natural response is a crippling fear of failure and constant pressure to be more than we are. Ironically, perfectionism sets us up for precisely the thing we fear – failure. When we are unable to accept ourselves for who we are, failure is a guarantee.
Spend an afternoon watching commercials or thumbing through advertisements to see how we are routinely influenced to buy things we don't need. Everything from beauty creams to diet foods and car ads play on that fear of not being or having enough. Fear mongering is great for sales, but horrible for self-esteem and individualism.
In reality, failure is common. We all do and will fail at something, most of us multiple times. The people in life who are truly successful are not that way because they don't fail or because they are just more lucky than you – they become successful by embracing their failures and accepting them for the lessons they hold. They take those lessons and use them as catalysts rather than excuses.
Successful people also tend to be visionary people. They are unique, not holding themselves up to a phoney societal standard of “perfection” that is not attainable. There is no such thing as “perfect” - it is an illusion. Those who chase the illusions of others rarely find success. Look at the most successful people you know and chances are they got that way because they are doing something they love, doing it in a unique way, and not allowing others to dictate their worth.
Tips for Overcoming Failure
Honesty. In order to learn and grow from mistakes, we have to learn to be honest with ourselves without demeaning or punishing ourselves for our errors. Once we look at ourselves and our mistake with sincere honesty, then we can begin to pick apart the experience and truly learn from it.
Amends. If your failure or mistake has caused pain to yourself and others, you need to take steps to repair that damage and make amends. It is impossible to move forward in life if the past is still eating away at you. Clear your conscience and take steps to actively repair any damage caused. This will help you grow as a person and show your integrity to others.
Acceptance. Fear is a constant. Yes, we all have fears. Most of us try to avoid fear or we decide that when we are not afraid, then we'll take a chance. Our worries become excuses to settle for less than we truly want or deserve. When we accept that fear is normal and natural, it begins to lose its grip on us. In order to be successful we have to learn to move forward despite our fears. The only way to overcome anxiety is by moving forward, not waiting for it to go away.
Change: It is a natural human instinct to seek out comfort, but unfortunately it is the greatest way we stifle ourselves from growing. It is impossible to make progress without accepting some risk and embracing new opportunities. Instead of shrinking back - take on the spirit of the explorers and adventurers who seek out new discoveries.
Decide. Once you make a decision on a goal, don't let your anxieties or fears of failure sabotage your progress. It's easy to start something and a lot harder to finish it, especially when it's a long-term goal that doesn't offer instant gratification. How many weight loss ventures fail for this reason? People give up or go back to old habits. Once you make a decision – stick with it. Sometimes, indecisiveness means the goal we are pursuing may not be what we truly want. Take time to soul search and decide what it is you truly want for yourself – and then stick to a plan. If you fail, get up and keep going which leads to the next tip …
Persistence. Those who are successful ultimately reach their goals not by lack of failure, but through persistent and dedicated behavior. Failure is a part of success – so if you want to be successful at something you need to embrace failure because there's no way around it. One of my favorite quotes about this is from Thomas Edison who said “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” This of course leads us to the last tip on how to deal with failure.
Laugh. If you take yourself too seriously not only does it take the fun out of life, it makes failures more challenging to overcome. Learn to laugh at your mistakes, embrace them with a light heart and then move beyond them. Don't live a life of regret, living in the past is a sure and certain way to miss out on the joy of today and the promise of the future.
Practical Ways to Prevent Failure
I keep a journal to record my thoughts, feelings and actions so I can look back. I've noticed it's often this process of review that reinforces how much I have grown and provides motivation and encouragement in times of doubt and struggle.
I also keep a vision board. Mine isn't just about wishes – it's about aspirations and things I'm striving for. When I reach smaller milestones along the path to my larger goals; I record that and tack it to my board. Instant motivation!
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© 2013 Christin Sander
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