Career Corner: “Dealing with Failure” By: Dee Rene
Wine swirled around in the glass quietly as I stood in my kitchen. It’d been one helluva day. My neck tied in a thousand knots and my brain refused to be quiet.
I’d failed today. I felt more and more like a failure with every breath I took. The tears flowed along with another glass of wine. I started to doubt my abilities and it seemed like no prayer would come out.
Have you been there? Drowning in failure, still dressed in your work clothes, ready to just give up?
Here are a few tips for dealing with failure:
- 1. Separate yourself from your mistake: There’s a difference in saying “I failed”and “I didn’t complete this task.” When you start personalizing failure, and making it a part of your character, you only tear yourself down with negative talk and make it harder to move on. Remember that something didn’t go the way you’d hoped, but it doesn’t mean that you, as a person, are a failure.
- Let go of the what ifs: What if I’d only…? What if I just…? What if I did… ? Those types of questions will drive you out of your mind. For every choice there are at LEAST two different solutions. Whatever choice you made at the time, is what you thought was best or maybe it wasn’t. Either way, you cannot go back in time to change anything. Beating yourself up with the what ifs doesn’t fix the failure.
- Process: Too often we are told to just suck it up and move on. Nobody ever talks about the processing you need to do to truly move past something. Your failure probably hurt you, probably made you angry, and probably left a big mess to clean up. You need time to think through what has happened and how to prevent it in the future, or fix the error if possible. Allow yourself time and space to process what you are feeling and how you got to that point. Processing is not dwelling. Processing is rational analyzing of what happened, what went wrong, and how to fix it next time. It doesn’t place blame or run through the what ifs.
- Don’t dwell and don’t bring up that past: If you’re like me, when something fails I think about it constantly. I drive myself crazy with the “what ifs” (point 2). Dwelling on your failures only magnifies them and blocks you from seeing all the good you’ve accomplished and past success. When you start to think about one particular failure too long, you will surely start thinking about similar failures in the past. Don’t. Be kind to yourself and once you’re done processing (point 3) move on and leave that failure, and the others, in the past.
- Fix it if you can; If you can’t, move on: If your failure it is fixable, and you’ve processed, get to work. The best way to get over a fixable failure is to fix it. Devote your energy to turning that negative situation positive again. If for whatever reason your failure is not fixable, move on. Let it go. Process your feelings and then tell yourself “it’s okay.” Very simply, if you can’t change it the only thing you can do is move on from it. If you don’t, you’ll only be stuck in a rut of blame, doubt, shame and a continuous cycle of failure. When you move on from unfixable failure, you allow yourself a new opportunity to succeed in a new situation.
Everybody messes up and most of us live to mess up again another day. Those who truly succeed have failed multiple times. However, they know that it’s a part of life and they don’t let it stop them from doing great things in the future. For those dealing with failure today, take a deep breath and work through the steps above. Take control over your life and don’t allow failure to cripple your progress.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some
blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to been cumbered with your old nonsense. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Visit Dee Rene’s own site over at LaughCryCuss.com