Dealing with failure is one of life’s lovely inevitabilities.
No matter what you do, at some point in time you will have to face the humiliating nature of metaphorically falling flat on your face. Ain’t life grand?
Some of us have become so terrified of failure that we actually let it dictate our lives. We don’t try new things. We procrastinate hoping the opportunity will expire. We stay stagnant to avoid any risk.
And inevitably, we become stuck.
I believe a massive culprit of the quarter life crisis is a paralyzing fear of failure. But dealing with failure doesn’t have to be so dramatic. In fact, it can be kind of fun.
FUN??!! ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!
Probs. But hear me out: Failure is what guides us to our successes.
We hardly ever hit the home run or make the best grade instantly! Typically practice and dedicated effort come together to create success AFTER we have mildly embarrassed ourselves. And that journey can definitely be fun. So I put together 5 steps to help you de-stigmatize this process and help you learn how to deal with failure in a healthy manner! Yay failure!
If you are anything like me, after a big WHOOPS moment, you probably go into panic mode. Le duh. Dealing with failure is SCARY.
In fact, your entire body is most likely having a hormonal reaction in response to a very frightening reality and wants to run away or bro out. But instead of letting your hormones take over, breathe. Your body believes you are in danger, but I can assure you, that’s not the case. However humans have not evolved past our instincts that protect us from fear and threats – so your body has tricked you into thinking the situation is much worse than it is. Breathing will calm down your system and allow you to think rationally again. It is imperative to let your body chill out before taking any of the next steps.
My favorite breathing exercise is called box breathing. I like it because it is hella simple. Breathe in for five long counts, hold for five long counts, and release for five long counts. If you have ever attended ANY type of yoga class, you’ve already done this 4398498 times, so you’re basically a pro. Try it. Now. Do it.
See? Balance is your friend. A calm heart equals a calm body which equals a calm mind. Breathing will always be your escape buddy.
2. Zoom Out
Once you have calmed down your system, it’s time to try and see the bigger picture. Now, this is going to look completely different based on your personality, so go ahead and pick your poison.
A) For those of you who prefer to live in reality and get stressed out dwelling on the future, try to focus on the past.
Think about times in your history where you have failed. What was it like? Were you able to recover? Did you learn anything? Did you keep trying?
Considering you are still a living, breathing human at this very moment, it seems like you managed to get out just fine. Use that confidence to propel you forward. Think back to what helped you get out of your funk, what worked, and what didn’t. Learn from your experiences. Talk it out with someone who recalls that time of your life and ask them if they remember the crucial points. Do they any tips for what to do next? That could be useful.
Your main priority is going to be staying grounded and to not get carried away with the thousands of future possibilities caused by this one measly little failure. Your head will start to spin. It’s almost like the Butterfly Effect comes at you full throttle.
However, if you can plant both feet in the ground and focus on the here and now, you’ll be fine.
Give meditating a try. Go for a run. Attend a yoga class and do my breathing thingy. Do SOMETHING to get you back in tune with your body. That’s your happy place, and that’s where the calm and stillness exist.
B) For those of you who really enjoy thinking about future possibilities, let’s double down on it.
You’re the type who thrives when leaping forward. Thinking about the future helps you remember that this failure is just a little blip. It’s probably not going to matter in the long run. In fact, you have days and weeks and months and years to get to where you want to be! What’s the rush? This setback is part of the whole plan. Your life is going to be just fine because you have an inherent optimism that will guide you forward.
So to get you to a much better place, resume envisioning your big goals and get creative about other avenues to get there. Just because this one failure didn’t pan out the way you wished does not mean the future doesn’t hold countless of other options for you. The more you can dig your heels into your tomorrows, the less you are going to worry about the failure today.
Some exercises that might help you get into your groove are talking it out with a fellow optimistic friend, taking time to daydream about the possibilities, tackling a project or brainstorming an idea, or coming up with a new plan to circle back to the original goal. Whatever keeps your creative juices flowing, get there!
3. Forget Perfect
Ok, so this might not be a sequential step in this “punch failure in the face” exercise, but it’s worth noting. Guys – the concept of “perfect” doesn’t exist. There is literally ALWAYS room for improvement. Trying to knock it out of the park every single time is only going to create the opposite effect! Instead of nourishing your confidence, your endless chase for perfection will destroy your optimism and usher in heaps of negative thinking. Transition is rough and aiming for perfection might seem like the logical choice, but you are setting yourself up for failure. And it’s going to catch up with you.
Release perfection from your expectations. Embrace the effort instead of the result. Understand that there will always be space for you to do better next time.
4. Focus on Opportunities
With that being said, let’s dive into what failure is really telling you: do better next time.
Might sound harsh, but try to think of it as a challenge instead of an ending. Failure is not a sign that you should never try again. It’s not a message telling you to give up and go home. It’s just an indicator that you need to regroup and try again after tweaking a bit here and there. Some might even call it exciting.
If you really think about it, failure is just giving you little hints at your weak spots. Everyone has them. Some might prefer not to know what they are and stick their head in the sand, but some of us would like to know. It’s a clue for a better us. Why wouldn’t we want that intel? It’s lovely to be told what it is you are doing wrong so you can fix it. Failure is just that. It’s not scary – it’s a teaching moment. It’s an opportunity to succeed later.
There are a multitude of reasons why we might fail the first time. Perhaps the timing was off. Maybe you underestimated how much effort was required. Whatever the reason, it’s not permanent. You just need a new perspective. – and if you’re having trouble coming up with a different angle – that’s what Blush coaches are here for.
5. Aim for Improvement
Are you the exact same person today as you were 10 years ago?
I seriously hope not.
I’m not sure how old you were 10 years ago, but I can guarantee that you have improved drastically in the past decade. You have probably honed skills in a certain field through studies and experience. You’ve most likely developed healthy and strong relationships thanks to your increased emotional maturity and openness. I’m sure you’ve also read interesting books and articles that have broadened your sense of the world.
Which means you are an ever-changing person. Your capacity for growth is infinite.
If you fail today, it’s not because you don’t have the God-given talent to overcome it. It’s not because you weren’t given the skills or talents you required in order to succeed. Again, you are evolving person. Your brain is essentially a sponge just waiting to absorb any vital information that can help you do better next time.
If you get caught up in a “fixed mindset” (I’m not smart because I have never been smart), you miss out on improving yourself and adopting an attitude of courage (I might not have the knowledge I need to succeed today, but if I try, I will tomorrow.) Most of the time the reason we don’t victoriously overcome every challenge we face is because we simply don’t want to put in the required effort in order to do so.
For example, when I was much younger, I was super involved with show choir. Yep. My life was basically Glee and tbh I was probably just as clueless as Rachel. I truly loved singing and wanted to make an instant career out of it. But when push came to shove, I also wanted friends. I wanted to do well in school. I wanted a well-balanced life. Hell, I even wanted to play basketball (omg I know right lol I totally sucked).
My priorities were not conducive with winning a Grammy by age 18.
So instead, I convinced myself that I didn’t have the talent that other singers had, and pretty much abandoned it. The final straw was moving to Texas and seeing that their music program wasn’t nearly as fabulous as Michigan’s offerings. All of a sudden, singing wasn’t convenient. It didn’t have the glitter-glam appeal that it used to. And that was my way out.
Could I have won a Grammy by 18 if I had really tried? I don’t know. If I hadn’t cut the chord (GET IT?) who knows? I don’t think it’s improbable. I also don’t think it was a sure thing. But they key (I’m on a roll) emphasis is that it was not my raw talent that was standing in my way – it was my lack of effort.
People who are victorious in life don’t get there simply because they have the talent. A lot of people have talent. They succeed because they give it their all.
Don’t use the talent game for an excuse to fail. Instead, blame motivation.
I have no qualms about my Grammy-less life.
I didn’t want it badly enough and I think deep down I knew that even at a young age. Singing wasn’t going to fulfill me. I apparently liked making friends and layups too much. And that is TOTALLY ok. I do, however, love connecting with others. I love writing. I love coaching. Am I the best in the world? lol. I think you can already answer that yourself. But I really enjoy it and I am going to keep improving because this is what I want to do.
If you love something enough and all you want in your life is to succeed, quit talking yourself out of it just because you don’t have “raw talent”. It only gets you so far. You are capable of dealing with success AND failure if you adopt the mentality that you can grow. You can improve. You can evolve. That is what will move you past failure and onto success. It won’t always be enough, but at least you won’t ever have to think, “If I only tried harder…”
Small note: While I adore the growth mindset, don’t let it consume your life. You are allowed to pick and choose which area you aim your focus. Not everything is going to mean enough for you to try your hardest. I don’t regret not pursuing singing. And that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. So remember to prioritize the things you LOVE and let go of the rest.
Ready to stop being paralyzed by fear?
Fabulous. Letting fear rule your life is no way to live. You will miss out on so many opportunities, have way too much excess anxieties floating around your body, and be deprived of true accomplishment.
Instead, let fear inspire you.
Allow it to motivate you to be better. Learning how to release fear isn’t easy – it takes self-awareness and constant accountability. But not to worry, Blush life coaching helps you manage fear with every session. Join today so you can be matched with a life coach who can help you effectively tackle your fear while piecing together a game plan for your next step. We’re waiting for you whenever you’re ready!