5 Steps To Embrace Failure

I failed. That’s really dramatic and accurate.

More accurate is that I failed to write and publish a blog every day. I missed yesterday. And while I don’t like failing- I absolutely #@$%^& hate it – it was also inevitable.

I’m working on building a habit of writing and publishing every day. Writing with quality every day in 30 minutes is a tall order but it is part of what allows it to fit into my very full day. This habit will help reinforce my goals and my beliefs. It will help me build new skills and improve my writing. There are lots of reasons to be make this successful and are wonderful motivations but that isn’t full proof when building a new habit.

And I could give a whole lot of excuses on why I failed yesterday. It was a rough day and I had like 10 priority items that had to get done and even more that I had others waiting on me for. –But that’s a subject for another blog. 

Deep breath.

I do have to admit, it almost feels good. Now that I’ve gotten that failure out of the way I can learn from what happened and put somethings in place to deal with it to lessen the reoccurrence. It also removes the pressure from maintaining perfection.

Life is a journey. This is a learning journey.

Failure is the natural result of doing something we haven’t done before. It is inevitable. It is how we learn. And yet, failure becomes this personal thing where we allow it to feel like a stabbing wound in our chest. We take it personally. We make it emotional. We have to give ourselves permission to fail when it happens.

Embrace it. Call it what it is. Be real. And give yourself permission to learn.

Fight the perfection monster

One of the reasons failure takes such a toll on us is that we have created this unrealistic expectation of perfection. When we make our plan or imagine ourselves doing the thing, we always imagine everything going right. We create a vision of all being good and no obstacles to overcome. Slay that perfection monster. My trick this time with my writing was to get that failure out of the way quickly.

Last night, when I was falling asleep on the couch after a long day, I could have forced myself to rally and get that writing done. It would have kept that checkmark on the calendar. I didn’t do that. I decided to slay the monster. If I had gotten it done last minute – I would not have been growing my habit. In fact, I may have given myself an out in the future to get it done at the end of the day when that is not the habit I’m working on building. The stakes would not have been high enough to change behavior by almost missing my goal. It’s a forced wake up call to make adjustments. And now, I don’t have to worry about perfection, I can get on with building this daily habit.

Here I am first thing in the morning raring to go and writing which is one of the aspects of the habit I’m building.

Recognize the inevitable obstacles and barriers

Another way to deal with unrealistic expectations is that after you’ve set a goal for yourself, imagine what obstacles you will face. Try and pre-design your process around overcoming those things that will inevitably get in your way. A bit of scenario planning is always helpful. You won’t be able to account for it all. There is no way to think of everything and life always has new curve balls that will smack you in the face. Instead you will have a decent plan for dealing with the obvious that we sometimes don’t think about when we dream plan.

Adapt

Looking failure directly in the face only way to learn from those mistakes. Confront it dispassionately and accept that failure isn’t a bad thing. Most critical is to identify what went wrong, what you can do differently next time, and adapt your thinking or process to be able to deal with this scenario differently in the future. Adaption is key to success in overcoming failures and learning.

Move on

Once you’ve recognized the failure, learned from it, and adapted; don’t keep twirling it around in your brain. Don’t make it personal by giving it more room in your mind than it deserves. Self talk is a computer program and it’s one that will run and take root. It’s time to move on. You’ve got new things to learn and mistakes to make, failures to learn from – and that is all part of what will make you greater than you were yesterday.

I failed. I’m not a failure.

I’m only a failure when I give up, when I don’t learn, when I don’t adapt, when I replay the event over and over again, when I let the program of failure take root in my brain, when I don’t embrace my learning journey, when I don’t give myself permission to be a fallible human that is seeking to do better each day.

If you are doing anything worthwhile at times you will fail. But you are no failure.

You are learning and growing.

Off to find my next failure.

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