A 7-Step Process for Dealing With Failure and Other Setbacks
You can accomplish anything if you’re willing to fail along the way. Failure is a consistent part of success. The most successful people fail far more often than the least successful people.
Life is full of setbacks. The question is whether you allow failure and other setbacks to derail your efforts. Everyone can learn to better deal with these common annoyances on the road to success.
Failure is a funny thing. It feels embarrassing and catastrophic, but that’s rarely the case. You fail every day.
When you think your keys are in the kitchen drawer, but discover they are not, you failed.
However, you don’t let it bother you. Instead, you just look somewhere else.
Dealing with failure can be that simple. If your first attempt doesn’t work, try something else.
The same can be said for your 30th failed attempt. Most people try a time or two and then give up.
They decide it either can’t be done, or the stress of failing becomes too much to bear.
Use this process to overcome failure:
1. Maintain your composure.
Nothing will derail your progress like becoming emotionally distraught or quitting altogether.
Undesirable results happen more often than not. It’s important to understand this fact.
When you expect that you’ll sometimes fail, it won’t bother you nearly as much. You simply keep going.
2. Determine what went wrong.
If possible, determine the error in your approach. Do your best to understand exactly what happened and why. If you don’t understand the issue, you can’t correct it.
3. Maybe you just need to try again.
Some things just naturally have high failure rates, like sales. For some products and services, you might face 100s of failures between successes.
There’s no reason to fret, just try again. And again. And again.
4. Alter your approach.
It’s important to keep improving your method. No matter how great you are at something, it can always be better. Take a few minutes each day and adjust your approach.
5. Look for alternatives.
Maybe you need to try a completely new approach. There are often multiple ways around any obstacle.
Maybe you can find a better alternative. For example, if you’ve been cold-calling for clients, maybe it would be better to:
◦ Ask people you know for referrals
◦ Show up in person
◦ Attend meetups or conventions
◦ Send postcards
◦ Pass out flyers
◦ Send lumpy mail
◦ If you’ve thoroughly investigated one method, try another.
6. Sharpen your axe.
Sometimes it’s not about how hard you chop at the trees. It’s about how sharp your axe is. Develop yourself each day.
Work on your general sales skills and charisma if those are useful. A chemist might brush up on his knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry.
7. Work on your coping skills.
Figure out the best ways to handle the stress and other negative emotions that commonly accompany failure and setbacks.
◦ Keep your options healthy. Calling a friend, exercise, and meditation are examples of acceptable options.
◦ Using drugs, alcohol, or food are examples of unhealthy coping strategies.
You can’t succeed if you can’t handle failure.
Most of us are far more afraid of failure than we should be. A failed sales call or 30-foot putt isn’t a life and death matter.
The most successful people fail more often than they succeed. It’s just part of the game.
One of the best ways to predict your success is to look at your ability to handle failure. Successful people handle failure without any undo fuss. Just learn and keep going.
Avoid Being a Slave to Your Old Beliefs
There are plenty of beliefs you hold that you allow to influence your life. You haven’t even given many of these beliefs a lot of thought.
For example, you probably have similar religious beliefs as your parents.
Did you ever sit down and think about which religion best suits you? Or did you just continue with what you were exposed to as a child?
You don’t have to be a slave to your old beliefs!
Try these techniques to maintain only beliefs that support you: 1. Your previous beliefs and knowledge can prevent you from gaining new knowledge.
If you think you know something already, you won’t be open to new views. Knowledge is great, but when it gets in the way of learning something new, it’s poison. 2. Ask more questions.
Be curious. Avoid believing that you already know the answer because of your previous experience. You can learn while you listen.
You can’t learn while you’re speaking. Ask questions and then be quiet and listen to the answer. 3. Pretend that you’re a beginner.
For example, imagine that you make a living as a real estate investor.
When a novice investor starts telling you about his latest deal, you probably don’t believe there’s anything you can learn from him.
Pretend that you know absolutely nothing about a topic. Be open to everything you hear. Even if you’re a leading authority on something, there are still things you don’t know.
If you pretend that you’re a mere novice, you’ll have a better chance of gaining that knowledge that eludes you. 4. Determine if your beliefs are truths, or merely just beliefs.
Beliefs are personal, often unprovable, and often no more correct than another belief. 5. Where did your belief come from?
If you believe that women are better than men, how did you decide that?
Or, if you believe that you’re not capable of managing money, where did this belief come from? What is the source of your belief? 6. Let go of your identity.
Our identities are largely built around our beliefs. We might believe:
◦ “I’m an overweight person.”
◦ “I’m not intelligent.”
◦ “I’m the most intelligent person I know.”
◦ “I’m liberal.”
◦ “I’m someone that can’t learn math.”
◦ “I’m lazy.”
◦ “I’m a school teacher. That’s what I am.”
We take our beliefs, good or bad, and associate with them. If you believe that you’re naturally overweight, it makes it challenging to lose weight.
If you associate with being bad at math, you make it harder to learn math. It’s hard to achieve or believe something outside of your identity. 7. What is the cost of your beliefs?
Some beliefs come with a heavy price. Look at your beliefs and consider the impact they are having on you.
We’re all slaves to our beliefs. Unfortunately, many of our beliefs are unhealthy and unhelpful. Beliefs can be very limiting.
Face the world with an open mind, and you’ll have an easier time of finding your truth.
Avoid allowing your old beliefs to control you. Be the master of your life, not a slave to your beliefs.
Dealing With Your Mental Chatter
We all have a constant companion that never shuts up.
The mental chatter in our heads starts when we wake up and is still going when we go to sleep. It’s even active during our dreams.
Unfortunately, this never-ending stream of thought can be damaging over time.
Fortunately, with understanding and objectivity, the impact of mental chatter can be mitigated.
If you’re willing to take control and keep your thoughts positive, mental chatter even be helpful.
There are several tactics that you can use to manage your mental chatter: 1. Recognize that brains make noise.
Brains generate thoughts the way little dogs bark. It’s just what they do.
While your brain can be taught to quiet down to an extent, there’s no way to silence it completely while you’re still breathing. 2. Maintain some distance from your mental chatter.
Since you know that your brain is going to generate thoughts regardless of the situation, it’s easy to see that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts. 3. Meditate daily.
Meditation shows you just how noisy your mind can be. It also allows you to practice bringing your mind back to a point of focus.
You learn a lot about how your mind works when you meditate. A few minutes a day can make a big difference. 4. Use affirmations.
Affirmations are a great way to counteract negative mental chatter. You can’t think about two things at the same time.
When any negative thoughts appear, recite your affirmations to yourself. 5. Listen to the chatter.
Sometimes, the chatter is trying to tell you something important.
Consider if there’s a worthwhile message your subconscious is trying to tell you. 6. Avoid judging.
A good portion of the noise in our head is created by our constant need to judge everyone and everything. 7. Journal.
Sometimes it helps to just let it all out. Set aside 10-20 minutes each day and allow your mind to run wild. Write it all down in a Journal.
You’ll be stunned by how varied and nonsensical your thoughts are. It’s also possible to find something worthwhile on occasion, too.
Mental chatter is one of the results of having a normal brain. Brains make noise, and they never stop for long.
Much of your mental chatter is nothing but random nonsense.
Your best bet is to ignore it as well as you can and get on with your life.
When you make an effort to think positive thoughts, then your mental chatter is working for you rather than against you.
Related Reading: Comprehensive Self development online guide