Friday, 28 June 2013

How to bounce back from failure

Nobody wants to fail, but we still do, from time to time. Here are 4 tips to help you get back in the game, fast.

By Nila Sweeney



I don’t like failing. Failing sucks and it’s painful. It weighs you down and makes you just want to give up. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I failed many times and I still fail in some of the things I set out to do.

For example, I set out a goal to do yoga every day. I do it most days, but not every day as I aimed for.

I still procrastinate. I aimed to be more decisive and productive, but I still put off doing things or making crucial decisions. Sometimes for days. No wonder, I'm still nowhere near the size of the property portfolio I need to retire on.

I wanted to be organised particularly with paperwork, but my bills and other important documents are still piling up in the box under the bed for me to sort out.

I had many failures in the past, including losing money on ventures that bombed and getting involved in relationships that were doomed from the start.

There were many occasions I was tempted to just throw in the towel. And I did, a number of times, albeit briefly. Somehow I keep finding myself back in the game.

It’s never easy to motivate yourself when you fail, but there are steps you can take to get you out of the rut quicker. Here are four tips that I use to pick myself up after a humbling defeat. You may want to give it a try too.

1. Take a short break to refocus
Taking a short break to regroup helps you to see things clearly. When we fail at something, we have the tendency to magnify its impact. We think the fall out is bigger than what it actually is. And it could be really big, but if you look at the grand scheme of things, you’ll likely to see it’s not that serious. It's not insurmountable. It’s not the end of the world. You can only do this if you take time to refocus.

The other benefit of taking a breather is that you avoid knee-jerk reactions that could exacerbate the damage. Dealing with failure is uncomfortable and it’s normal to want to make the discomfort go away as fast as possible. If you're not aware of your actions, you could end up making riskier moves that would compound your loses.

2. Don’t take it personally
Easier said than done, I know. There’s a big difference between failing at something and failing as a person. When we fail in our ventures or projects, we tend to take it personally. We make it mean we’re failures. We think we failed because we're not good enough, that we're stupid or losers.

When you had a lapse and ate a whole block of chocolate for example, this doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a person. It just meant that you broke your diet, a sign that something in your method is not working.

When you bought an underperforming investment, it means your methods were flawed, not you as a person. It doesn't mean you suck as an investor.

When we just see failure as it is: a sign that a process is not working, we'll be able to find a way to improve it to prevent it from happening again.

3. Change the way you do things
Once you’ve identified the ineffective ways of doing things that led to this failure, you can  change it. You can look for a new or different method of doing it. Maybe ask other people for help. Maybe set up a system to keep you accountable. Maybe you need to overhaul your whole process of doing things. The important thing is that you’re making a distinction between the failure of the methods and your failure as a person.

4. Take action, no matter how small
Failure makes you want to stop and just crawl under the bed and never get out. It’s tempting to quit and not do anything. But this will only postpone the inevitable: dealing with the consequences of that failure.

When you take action, no matter how small, you’re sending a message to yourself that this failure that you’re dealing with is not insurmountable. You start feeling better. 
Before you know it, you’re back in the game.

You may also want to read my article Are you still making excuses? for an extra dose of motivation. 

Other inspirational articles you may want to check out:
Could this be the missing magic ingredient in your relationships?
No time to lose