We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.
There are going to be failures, big and small, all along the way, especially when you are working on something new or out of your comfort zone. The people that reach their goals, and achieve success, don’t stop there. They learn from the experience and use what they’ve learned to keep going — and going — and going. When looking at the most successful people in all areas of life, this is the most important trait among them.
This concept is so easy to see, but why is it so hard to keep going when things don’t go to plan, especially if they go very wrong? Why do so many people let the fear of possible failure keep them from trying something new?
- Worry about what other people think.
- Not enough confidence in the plan to start with.
- Fear of the unknown.
- Inexperience in dealing with problems.
- Lack of grit to keep going when things aren’t so easy.
- Failure to plan – on a practical and emotional level.
Planning, practically and emotionally, is key to ensure success no matter what happens.
All successful projects have a contingency plan — Plan B, C, etc. You need to look at various possible outcomes and have a plan to move forward should any arise. This will save time, money and possibility of complete failure. Have a written plan and review it daily to keep you on course and prepared for what may happen.
Many times we stop because we feel we have failed personally and aren’t strong enough (good enough, etc.) to continue. In your plan, have ways to keep yourself mentally strong, so that you can keep going.
- Change your thinking about failure. Don’t look at the issues that arise as failures, but as outcomes. You then look at the outcomes and decide the best way to continue on toward your goal. I picked this up reading Wayne Dyer. Other inspiration from him: everything happens for a reason. Look at what happened and why and see how to learn from it and improve.
- Maintain clarity of thought. Mindfulness and practicing presence have become widely accepted as important to business success. For me, meditating every morning is key to being able to stay positive and clear thinking when problems arise at any time of the day. If meditation is not for you, try adding mindfulness to another activity that you can do daily — a sport, reading/writing, walking. As you do the activity, pay close attention to your breath, each movement, each thought. When issues arise, use this clarity to think things through. Without daily practice, most people cannot maintain this clarity when needed.
- Build a community of supporters, business and personal, that you can turn to when you are finding it hard to go on. Have a mix of people; family, friends and acquaintances; that you can easily turn to depending on the issue at hand. Make a practice of meeting up and conferring with your ‘tribe’ on a regular basis, so it’s natural for you to do when times are difficult.
- Remind yourself of your achievements. Keep awards and other mementos at your workspace as reminders of what you can do.
- Have go-to activities that will give you a boost when needed. I go for a walk, listen to a mood boosting playlist or have a soothing bath when I need a take a break or need to look at something from a different angle.
- Don’t take it personally. Because something went wrong in your project, or even if your whole project failed, you are not a failure. You tried, you put your energy out there and you will try again.
With your plan and mental preparedness you are now ready to accept that there will be failures alternative outcomes that you can handle as you move forward on your path to success.