Let’s be honest, failure is part of life. There is no magic fairy or potion that is going to allow you NOT to fail at something throughout your life. You didn’t begin to walk at your first attempt did you? Of course not, you fell down flat on your nappy butt, and got back up! Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how to handle it.
I fail at things much more than you might imagine and when I do, it feels just as horrible for me as it does for anyone else. I beat myself up, feel guilty, try to avoid thinking about it, and would rather hide it from everyone else.
Failing at things really stings. But, I’ll get back up and try again.
I fail at keeping on top of writing my blog posts on a regular basis, but I keep at it. I’m good at eating healthy these days, but trust me, I failed and tried again, regularly, for years and years.
I’ve failed at loving myself. But I didn’t give up on that.
So what’s the secret? Well, there isn’t any, it’s in how you handle it, and you just have to keep trying. That said, here’s what I’ve found to work:
Every attempt is about learning
Here’s the big one. Without some kind of failure or setback you’re not really learning anything. Failure or a setback is really good information to build on. Before failing, you thought something would work, but then real-world information came in that told you otherwise. Bingo! You now know something you didn’t know before, which is excellent. You can now adjust your plan, figure something new, or try a new method. Continually learning is only going to help you successfully achieve bigger and better goals in the future
Incorporate a flexible mind-set
When you rigidly stick to a plan to achieve a goal, and things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy that plan then gets derailed. But if you have a more flexible mind-set, and think, “this might not go according to plan but that’s OK because things change,” then it’s not a disaster when you get off track. There’s no single track that you have to stay on anyway, and it’s rare that any plan is linear without an up or down along the way. Be open, flexible and take it in stride. Because it hasn’t gone to plan doesn’t mean the goal can’t be achieved.
Have a break
This is really important for me, particularly if I’m struggling. Sometimes my mind or body just needs a break from the discipline, and more often than not, the answer will reveal itself when I’ve given my mind or body that break. So I’ll make time for a coffee break, to go for a walk, or simply take a day or two off from thinking about it. There’s no set time that’s right for every situation, so I’ve been learning to go by feel. For some things, I’ve taken a couple of weeks off, but as I mentioned earlier, I can’t count the number of times that answer or inspiration has come while I’ve taken a break. Works wonders.
Ask for help
Pretty obvious I know, but so many don’t ask. When I struggle with something, I know that I can either give up, or reach out. But it’s not always easy to reach out for help, so I reach out to my friends, trusted family members, and ask them. They might give me simple, obvious, why-didn’t-I-see-that advice that I need, or brilliant tips, or accountability. Whatever happens, my friends and family never seem to fail me, and if they don’t have the answer, I’ll ask if they know someone that does.
Why is it important?
Last but not least, I have to revisit why it’s important to me, because if there isn’t an anchor there, chances are I’ll give up on it. It’s easy to give up on something, because ‘not doing’ is the easy choice. But giving up also means you’re losing something important, like helping someone, then I will renew my enthusiasm for the struggle. This alone gets me going again, especially if I’m doing it to help someone important to me.
I realise I’m far from perfect, and have fallen into the traps everyone else does when things don’t go to plan. But I’ve learned as long as I don’t beat myself up, acknowledge I’ve given it my best shot, controlled what I can, then the lessons I learn in failure are only going to help be better and achieve greater success.
It’s never too late to start again, so trust yourself, take what you’ve learned and start again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aaron Tenabel is the owner and founder of Stride Life Coaching. An ex professional swimmer and elite coach, Aaron now uses those experiences and skills to specialise coaching individuals wanting to improve their health, achieve work life balance, and find greater purpose, fulfilment and authenticity in their career. Aaron also specialises in working with professional athletes, wanting to find passions outside their chosen sport, and help develop, empower and plan for their life post career.