“You’re on your way now but this is no time to dwell on how far you’ve come. You’re in a fight against an opponent you can’t see, but oh you can feel him on your heels, can’t ya? Feel ’em breathing down your neck. You know what that is? That’s you. Your fears, your doubts and insecurities all lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out the sky.” — Nike Rise & Shine Motivational Video.
I have failed so many times in my life that I have lost count. Some of my past failures have been pretty epic and some not so bad. I don’t care what anyone says when you fail, it sucks. Even though your friends and family support and encourage you, at the end of the day you are the only one who deals with the emotions and feelings that are associated with defeat and failure.
Your past failures can control how you live your life in the present and in the future. I know this from experience. I have missed taking opportunities in my life because my past failures and my self-limiting beliefs had control of my thinking. As a result, my decisions tended to lean toward choosing the easy option because I was too scared to step out of my comfort zone and risk failing. I also became an expert at convincing myself that I was making the “right decision” and suppressing those thoughts that were challenging me to be more courageous.
It took the very painful experience of losing three jobs over a period of 18 months for me to finally realise that if I kept doing the same things in my life, I would keep getting the same results. I had to make some changes and take control of my life so that I could live a life that was flourishing, rather than languishing for the rest of my life in frustration, disappointment, and fear.
Overcoming your past failures and the fears that are hidden deep within you is hard work. You would think that after losing my first job, I would have taken the opportunity to reflect and and think about what I really wanted to do with my life. I didn’t do this because I was so consumed by my fear of rejection and feeling like a failure that I took the first job that was offered to me. The money was good, and as it had taken me nearly six months to get a job, I believed I had no other option. I had to take this job or I would be even more of a failure in life.
When I walked into the office on my first day of work of my second job, I knew I had made a mistake. However, I convinced myself that it was the right decision because the money was good and I should be grateful. This was a bad mistake because it was the wrong job for me, and as a result, I didn’t last long there.
When I lost my second job, I once again became consumed by my fears of failure. Not only did I have to deal with feelings of worthlessness and rejection, I also was in a panic over financial uncertainty.Advertising
There were many nights I would lie in bed wondering why me? Why is this happening to me?
I would look at friends and other people’s lives and think why can’t I have a life like theirs? Why can’t I be successful like them? What am I doing wrong? As I am writing this, I am really feeling uncomfortable as I can so clearly see how much control my fear and past failures had over me. At the time, I didn’t recognise it and I was miserable.
Trying to pick myself up to go get a third job was really hard. I just wanted to crawl away and hide from the world. Deep down, however, I knew that if I gave in my life would get worse, not better. I wanted my life to get better and I wanted to feel better about myself. I decided that I had no other choice — I had a family to support and I had to keep going.
I was far more cautious about my third job and I didn’t rush into it despite the fact it took me seven months to get the job. I was keen to keep it long term, however this was not to be. Six months into my job, the organisation decided to restructure and again I was told I had no job.
It was here that I got angry and realised that I truly had to sort myself out. To survive the three job losses, I had to take control of my life and that meant that I had to learn how to survive and thrive on the rollercoaster ride of life.
These 5 strategies that I am sharing with you helped me take control of my life and better manage my fears, and there were many, around failure.
This didn’t mean that I stopped failing in life, because I still fail. I am, however, more resilient and able to bounce back from failure a lot quicker than in the past. I now accept and understand that failure is an important part of life’s journey.Advertising
The key to surviving and thriving in life is learning how to manage and move on from the past failures and setbacks you face in life. Hopefully, these five strategies will help you take control of your life so that you can live the life you desire.
1. Start A Failure Journal
This is a very pragmatic and logical way to explore the reasons for your past failures. It is important to learn from your past failures, and you need to find out if there are any trends and patterns that sit behind them.
When I started my failure journal, I identified five fears I had surrounding failure and dutifully wrote them in my journal. As time when on and I learned more about myself, I discovered that I had a lot more fears than I realised. I actually stopped writing these fears down when I reached 20!
Some of the fears I had were the fear of success, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of rejection, the fear of being judged, the fear of vulnerability, and the list goes on. Identifying your fears is key to understanding and dealing with your past failures. While your fears exist, your past failures are still in control of you.
The journal enables you to to acknowledge your fears and your past failures, learn from them, and then move on toward a new future of embracing new opportunities.
Here are three questions that I found to be really helpful when it came to acknowledging my failures and working out how to take control of my life:
- What did I do well?
- What went wrong?
- What could I have done to improve the situation?.
These three questions helped me look at the failures in a more positive light because I knew the only way I could move forward in life was to understand why these failures had so much influence over me and what lessons I needed to learn from them. Once I understood this, all my past failures began to slowly lose their control over my life.Advertising
2. Use Your Power Of Choice
Learn how to use your power of choice so that you can make informed decisions about your life. Using your power of choice is important to building your resilience and to maintaining a hopeful and positive attitude about life.
You are the only one who has control of how you respond to life’s challenging events. Your power of choice is a gift that enables you to live the life you desire. It does not protect you from life events, but it does empower you to decide how you respond and deal with life’s challenges.
When I have to make a tough decision about my life, I never think about the decision as a final decision. I try to make a decision based on what I believe to be right at the time. However, if this decision turns out not to be what I expected, then my power of choice enables me to choose to make another decision.
What happens for many of us is that once we make a decision we tend to stick with it even if we know we have made the wrong decision. We hang in there because we keep hoping it will get better — of course, it never does.
Your power of choice is your secret weapon to managing the rollercoaster ride of life — the joy, the pain, the sadness, the scary, and all the future mistakes you will no doubt make. Use your power of choice to take control of your life.
3. Always Plan For The Unexpected
Accept that the unexpected will happen — it is a given. Learn how to manage the risk in in your life by asking these four key questions:
- What is the worst thing that could happen?
- If it did happen, would you be able to deal with it?
- How would you deal with it?
- Would your life be better if you gave up on your goal?
4. Learn About The Science Of Failure
This strategy had the most impact on me, in that I gained a better understanding of how much control and influence my subconscious mind has over my thoughts and actions. I read lots of books and listened to many Ted Talks to learn how to better manage my thoughts and behaviour patterns surrounding my past and anticipated future failures.Advertising
Kathryn Schultz’s book Being Wrong and her Ted Talk “On Being Wrong,” was really powerful for me in learning how to admit and accept being wrong. Accepting that there are times in my life where I have been wrong enabled me to accept my past failures and move forward in my life.
Sometimes, failure can mean that we may be on the wrong path and we may need to make a detour. I realised that quitting doesn’t always mean I was failing. The key is knowing when to quit (not failing) and then moving on to something different and better.
5. Do Whatever It Takes To Build Your Resilience and Courage – Never Stop!
To face your past failures and deal with them is hard work, and you need to be mentally tough and committed to making the personal changes you need to make.
Your resilience and courage are your secret weapons — it is these two things in your life that will get you through the challenges, the pain, and the reality of life.
You will want to give up, and that’s OK. You will find it hard, and that’s OK. You will make mistakes, and that’s OK. You will fail, and that’s OK. Some days you will feel like you are in control and some days you will feel like you have no control — that’s OK.
Life will never be what you expect it to be. However, it is only you that can control how you react to the challenging events in your life.
Your resilience and courage will keep you strong and committed to living a life you deserve, where you are not controlled by your past failures.
Some strategies I use to keep me resilient and courageous are:
- I surround myself with people who support me, no matter what
- I work hard to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating. Physical wellbeing is key to maintaining my mental resilience and a positive attitude in my life
- I’ve completed a number of courses on mindfulness. I had lost faith in me and I didn’t trust myself. As a result of attending these courses, I have learned how to listen to my intuition and to trust and believe in me. The more self belief I had, the less control my past failures had over my life.
Failure is a part of everyone’s life. Nobody escapes failure. The key to surviving failure and moving forward in life is having tools and strategies to help you. I hope that these five strategies have helped you to choose to take control of your past failures so that you can live a fulfilled and joyous life.
Last Updated on July 18, 2019
What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People
Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.
They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.
It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.
1. They Manage Their Expectations
They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.
2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards
Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.
3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted
Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.
4. They’re Not Materialistic
There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?
5. They Don’t Dwell
They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.
6. They Care About Themselves First
They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.
They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.
7. They Enjoy the Little Things
They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.
8. They Can Adapt
They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.
9. They Experiment
They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.
10. They Take Their Time
They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.
11. They Employ Different Perspectives
They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.
12. They Seek to Learn
Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.
13. They Always Have a Plan
They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.
14. They Give Respect to Get It
They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.
15. They Consider Every Opportunity
They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.
16. They Always Seek to Improve
Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.
17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.
18. They Live in the Moment
They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.
You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future
19. They Say Yes
Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.
20. They’re Self-Aware
Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.
We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.
Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.
The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.
For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.
More About Happiness
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
- How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Now
- How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy
Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com