Nothing ever works out the way that we planned. It is OK to fail the first time (or the first fifty times).
We plan these milestones and these waypoints that we want to see, and we look forward to passing them; but do we ever really see them? Sometimes we see one or two. Sometimes, if we really seem to get things right, we can even see most of them. And you know what? Sometimes, things actually almost go like we planned them.
But those are the good days. Those are the days when we feel like we can conquer the world. Those are the days when we feel like we can take on anything that life throws at us.
But what about the rest of the time? What happens when life doesn’t go that way? What happens when life throws us curve-balls? What happens when our plans don’t work? What happens if only part of our plan works? What happens if the next step of your plan falls right out from underneath you?
Simple; you give up.
Now, having said that, let me go back and reiterate exactly what I mean. I don’t mean that you should give up altogether. If you believe in what you are doing and believe that it is worth working for, then you should never give up on it entirely. What I am talking about is this: give up feeling like it always has to go exactly like you planned it.
When these valleys hit (and they will definitely hit, at some point or another), you have to give yourself some room to breathe. You have to remember that the greatest success stories of our world have never gone as planned. In fact, things often turn out better in the end when they deviate from the plan!
But when you are in the valley, and when you feel like your plan has failed, this is not usually what is on your mind. Usually, you feel tired, worn out, frustrated, irritated, or even plain-old depressed. It is tough to watch something that you have worked for take a turn down an unexpected road; and it is even worse if that road seems like a negative turn as opposed to a positive one!
So here are three tips that you might find useful for dealing with failure. These tips will help you to keep in mind the fact that failure is NOT necessarily a bad thing. You HAVE to fail before you figure out the right way to do something. Every success requires multiple failures, and part of succeeding is realizing that it is ok to fail.
Tip #1- Step Back For A Fresh Perspective
We can often learn a lot about our situation by just stepping back and turning our thoughts elsewhere for a little while. Taking a small break is not a bad thing after experiencing a particularly discouraging turn of events. In fact, a small break can help you to recharge your batteries. If you don’t give yourself time to recharge, then you can very well run out of steam completely; which is a much more difficult problem to overcome.
Tip #2- Don’t Be Afraid To Be Frustrated
Let’s be real; your plans just got crushed. Your ideas didn’t work. Your project fell flat. Is it really feasible to assume that you are not going to be a little bit frustrated with that?
You are going to be frustrated, especially if you really care about what you are trying to achieve. So take a deep breath, and try to realize that it is OK to be frustrated!
Do you ever remember being a kid and being upset about something? Do you ever remember having a parent or grandparent holding you and telling you that it was ok to cry? I had that experience when I was a child. In fact, hearing that it was alright to express my feelings often made the problem much easier to deal with!
What you need to do is find a positive way to vent your frustration. Maybe talking to a friend about it would help. Maybe sharing your problems with your spouse would make you feel better? If you don’t really want to bring the problem home to your family, then you could vent to someone else who is involved. If nothing else, just call up your mom and see if she is interested in hearing about it! Try to talk to someone who will encourage you, whether they know what is really going on or not. In the end, your entire objective with this step is to let yourself be frustrated. Once you have gotten past this stage, you will begin to re-ignite the excitement that you had before. Once that excitement comes back, then it won’t matter how many times you have failed, because you will be ready to jump right back in again!
Tip #3- Remember That Failure Is Not ‘Failure’
You HAVE to remember that failing once does not mean that you are failing everything. Hitting rough spots is just part of the process. What matters is that you come back and try again. If you fail again, then you try again. If you stick with it long enough, then you WILL succeed. If you care about what you are doing and have a drive to succeed, then failing is only going to make you better and better at it. By the time you get to your objective, you are not just going to be successful; you are going to be an expert as well.
You are going to face failure. There is no question about that. But that does not determine whether or not you are successful. What determines whether you are successful is whether or not you are willing to get back up and try again.