We love setting, chasing, and achieving goals. But what happens when we inevitably miss the mark?
Unfortunately, we’re all bound to fail sometimes. All the planning in the world can’t account for variables that are out of our control. When you’re trying something for the first time, you have to allow yourself some flexibility for mistakes. It’s unrealistic to assume you’ll do everything perfectly the first time.
Luckily, many large goals are made up of much smaller milestones that give you ample opportunities to practice on your way to long term success. One or two failures won’t set you off course too much, but if you do encounter a larger and more disappointing failure, how are you going to look at it?
By reframing how you feel in the face of failure, you can actually feel successful regardless of your circumstances.
Is Failure Really Winning?
This is a pretty common turn of phrase, but is this actually true? For individuals facing a recent failure, this phrase may rub salt in the wound.
Furthermore, you can learn a great deal from winning, so why wouldn’t you prefer to win all the time?
After his team lost a tough championship and suffered in the off-season, the great NBA coach, Pat Riley, was quoted as saying, “There’s winning…and then there’s misery!” There is no in-between. You either win and smile about it for the rest of your life, recalling the amazing memories and feelings of fulfillment, or you suffer, lying awake at night wondering what could have been.
Many ambitious high achievers may relate to Riley’s quote. They don’t like to experience failure and are not in the habit of failing. Oftentimes, the negative emotions individuals experience with failure can feel overwhelming. Losing out on something or missing a goal can cause you to experience feelings of regret. People who miss out on goals often find themselves reflecting on what they could have done differently or wishing they’d made different decisions. The “if only” list becomes endless, and that’s why it is so painful.
But some studies have shown there might not be that great of a difference between learning from failure and learning from success. In other words, feeling grief from a failure isn’t completely fruitless.
If you’re going to face failure eventually, you might as well be purposeful about how you look at it and use it as motivation to do better in the future. Reframe your thinking around failure, and fear of failure will not hold a grip on you.
Planning for Success
There are a lot of resources out there that can help you cope with failure when you do face it. Coping strategies are essential since having a bad mindset around failure can completely derail your progress on your goals.
However, one of the most impactful mindset shifts is simply planning to win—to succeed. Some people simply choose not to make failure an option, and this strategy proves to be immensely effective in helping them achieve long term goals.
Use this strategy to begin thinking about success as an inevitability, without “white-knuckling” your way toward these goals. Simply work from the mindset that you only have one option for your future, and that option is success!
Now, of course, you will experience a lot of mini failures (i.e., learning experiences) along the way, but as long as you ultimately succeed, you’ll find that it was all worth it.
Adopting an Edison Philosophy
Thomas Edison’s creation of the lightbulb is one of our culture’s most beloved stories about failure.
Edison failed 10,000 times in creating the lightbulb, but he viewed each failure as a success. He believed there was a finite number of solutions that didn’t work and, by eliminating each solution one by one, he knew he was getting closer to success. Reporters would love to criticize Edison for his failures, but the following quotations reveal his mindset at the time. He told them:
“I didn’t fail 10,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 10,000 steps.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
So how are you going to embody this story in your present circumstances? Truthfully, there must be a finite number of ways to fail before you find success. The only way that you can guarantee your own failure is if you give up on your goals prematurely.
This is how you cultivate the feeling of inevitability in your endeavors. If you choose to believe that success is inevitable and you keep trying new strategies until you succeed, true failure is not an option.
The Bottom Line
By reframing how you feel in the face of failure, you can feel successful regardless of your circumstances.
To sum it all up, failure only means what you allow it to mean. If you view failure as a sign that you never should have tried in the first place, that’s what it will be. If you view failure as a means to an end, then it becomes a progress marker towards your ultimate goal.
Your mindset is where it all happens, but the practical tips along the way sure do help. To learn some practical tips for success, be sure you read The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula. Download it here for free.
What is your philosophy about failure? How are you going to approach failure going forward? Let us know in the comments!