Now, I’m not going to deny it: Failure used to scare the wits out of me. It meant I was inferior, incompetent, unworthy. It made me feel like a complete loser. It was humiliating and shameful, and worst of all, it meant there was one more thing I had to give up on – one more closed door.
And it wasn’t just big failures. Oh no. I couldn’t even handle it when my character died in a computer game or when I took a wrong turn off the highway. It sounds kind of ridiculous, right? But it’s true. I’d throw up my arms; my face would burn up; my chest would get tight; and I’d honestly believe that I was being judged and secretly laughed at even when my rational brain knew better.
It was an awful experience – for me and the people around me – until one day I realized that I hated feeling this way and if I didn’t change, I’d end up bitter and alone. The realization that I was severely limiting my chances of happiness and success hit me like a punch in the stomach.
I knew I’d never reach my dreams if I let my failures have so much power of me.
So instead of letting failure derail me, I decided to consciously confront my failures with an open mind and a hopeful attitude.
Here are 5 things to do when you haven’t been able to reach a goal:
- Reevaluate if the goal is something you really want.
Spend some time reflecting on your values and priorities. Is this goal still aligned with your vision and values as they are now? Is achieving this goal really still important to you? If it is, get super clear on why it’s important to you and create a new gameplan.
- Look for lessons and opportunities for personal growth.
It won’t always be easy to see at first, but if you really evaluate the situation, you’ll find there are things to learn and gain from all life experiences. What have you learned from this particular experience? What new ideas do you now have that you can apply moving forward? Identify the skills and resources you will need to change the situation and what you will need to do differently. How has this experience made you stronger and wiser? Try listing all the good things about the situation – everything you’ve learned, everything you did accomplish, and all the ways you’ve grown. Gratitude and positive perspective are key.
- Objectively evaluate the consequences.
Failure can sometimes cause our fears, worries, and doubts to spiral out of control, which can often distort our perspective and make things seem a lot worse than they really are. Take a step back and really look at what’s going on. Are the consequences really as bad as you first thought? Are you making any sweeping generalizations or exaggerations? Try making a list of possible consequences, an then how likely these consequences are and possible solutions/remedies.
- Ask yourself what you would tell a loved one in this situation.
We’re often much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on someone we love. But it’s only when we are gentle with ourselves that we can fully overcome failures and setbacks. Really focus on the words you’d say to a loved one and consciously say them to yourself. Writing them down can be help too.
- Ask for support.
You don’t have to go through difficult times by yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people around you for support, guidance, and insight. Talking to a friend or coach can help us look at the situation from a different angle and discover new options and solutions.
The truth is, I would never have started my own coaching business if I had let my failures get the upper hand – yes, I have had many, many failures on my entrepreneurial journey, and I know I’m going to have countless more.
The road to entrepreneurship is filled with obstacles and failures, but it’s also filled with exciting adventures, exhilarating twists and turns, and unexpected opportunities.
I’m grateful beyond words for the lessons I’ve learned so far, and I can’t wait to find out what’s next.