I failed tests at schools.
I failed job interviews.
I failed to complete projects given to me.
I failed to finish writing at least a dozen books.
I failed so many times in my life. Every time, the pain was excruciating. Each failure reminded me I wasn’t good enough. Discouraged me from trying again. Made me believe I would never achieve anything.
I didn’t know how to deal with the pain and insecurities so I let them define me. I made up this story in my head that I was a quitter. What was the point in me even trying something new? I’d quit at the first hurdle. If I didn’t try anything new, I couldn’t fail. If I didn’t fail, I wouldn’t feel pain.
I thought my new quitter identity would protect me from more pain. The opposite was true. Failure hurts. Big time. But what hurts more is watching your life passing you by while you’re stuck. Seeing your friends be given amazing opportunities while you’re always passed over. Wondering if this is all there ever will be in store for you.Truth bomb: if you don’t try, you can’t fail. But you can’t succeed either.
If you want your dreams to come true, you need to be fight for them. Give them a go. Fail. Try again. Differently this time. Because failure isn’t an excuse to quit. It’s an opportunity to make changes. Pivot. Create a better strategy.
Next time you’re feeling like a failure, remind yourself (and your Inner Mean Girl) of these three simple truths:
IT’S ONLY A FAILURE IF YOU FAILED BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS
Too often, you try to achieve goals that aren’t really your own. You go to medical school because it’s prestigious. You enter the rat race because it’s what your parents expected of you. You get married to your high school sweetheart, have babies and get a mortgage because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Then, you realise you have no passion for medicine. You’re fired from your job. Your marriage is falling apart. Is it really any wonder you’re “failing?” More importantly, do you really want to succeed? If the goal isn’t your own, success is a fate worse than failure.Walking away from what’s not working for you isn’t a failure. Living a life that’s not your own is.
FAILURE IS YOUR TEACHER
So you failed at your own goal based on your own standards and your own expectations? That stings even more. All you want to do is bury the whole thing down in a corner of your mind and forget it ever happened. Smile to people and say, “it’s not a big deal. It wasn’t so bad after all.”
Don’t. Acknowledge your mistake. Grieve it. Then, pick yourself up and figure out what went wrong. Failure is a teacher. If you ignore it, you won’t learn anything from your mistakes. Worse, you’ll keep repeating them over and over again.Every failure leaves behind a clue about what you should do differently. Find it. Follow it. Change things up. You’ll get there.
YOU’RE BRAVE – CELEBRATE IT
No, I’m not suggesting you throw a party every time you make a mistake. “Yay, I’ve failed! I’m so awesome! Let’s celebrate!!” This attitude is just as dangerous as ignoring your failures.
But you do need to pat yourself on the back for trying. Most people don’t even bother doing that. Their heads are full of hopes and dreams but they never take the smallest first step to turn them into a reality. You did it. You took that step. And maybe a second and a third.
Ok, it didn’t go according to plan. But you had the guts to try it. You’re brave. Acknowledge that. And then go and try again (differently this time).
Good luck! I know you’ll make it. 😉
Over to you, now. What story do you tell yourself when you fail at something? Share your thoughts in the comments below.