“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Things don’t always go swimmingly.
Sometimes I fail. It is not fun. At least not when it has just happened.
But over the years I have learned a few steps that help me to deal with this in a smarter and healthier way than just feeling sorry for myself for weeks or letting the failure hold me back from taking action again for months.
In this article I’ll explore what I usually do.
1. Just be with what you are feeling.
When you fail it will most often hurt. Oftentimes a bit, sometimes quite a bit.
And that is OK. Don’t try to paint it over with a smile. I have at least found in my life that it works better to just be with what I am thinking and feeling. To try to accept it, to let it in and to hurt for a while instead of trying to reject it all and to keep it away.
Because when you let it in and accept it will go faster and in the long run less be painful to process what has happened.
If you reject how you really feel then those emotions will pop up at unexpected times later on and can make you moody, pessimistic, angry or sad.
Just being with your feelings and accepting them is however not a license to start feeling sorry for yourself or going deep into the victim role for the next two weeks or months though.
It is one of the steps forward from what has happened.
2. Remind yourself that failure is a temporary thing.
When you have failed it is very easy to start thinking that you will always keep failing in this area of your life. It is easy to start thinking that you are indeed a failure.
Don’t fall for such a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead, remind yourself that just because you failed today or yesterday does not mean that you will fail the next time.
The truth is that this won’t last for the rest of your life if you keep taking action and it does not label you as some kind of failure.
Seeing what is negative as a temporary thing instead of something permanent is an essential key to an optimistic attitude and to living a life of fully exploring your own potential.
3. Remind yourself that you will not be able to do things perfectly or do them 100% of the time.
Don’t set perfectionist ideals because then it will feel like you are always failing in some way or that you are not good enough.
Instead, focus on improvement.
Focus for example on eating healthy or staying optimistic 80% of the time at first. Then, later on, aim at doing it 90% of the time.
This is healthier for you and your optimism and self-esteem. And it is a more realistic approach because failure is a natural part of life (especially if you go beyond your comfort zone).
4. Find the constructive path forward.
The previous steps help me to move from the initial hurt to rekindling my optimism. In this final step more fuel is added the fire of optimism and action is taken to start moving forward again.
What I have found to work really well to do that is to ask myself a few questions like these:
- What is one thing I can learn from what has happened?
- What is one thing I want to do differently the next time?
- What is one small step I can take to more forward today?
You may find more than one thing that you can learn, that you want to do differently or steps you can take to move forward.
But focus one just finding one for each question at first so you don’t get stuck in procrastination because you may feel that answering with a whole list of things for each question becomes too hard.