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Published on October 26, 2018

How to Get Motivation Back on Track When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

How to Get Motivation Back on Track When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

Earlier this year, I had moved to Bali in search of the inspiration and motivation I had lost years ago. It got to the point where the needle within me no longer moved and that ambitious girl with a long curated bucket list was no longer to be found. So, I talked to my mentor – my father, and with every encouragement, he told me to set my sights high and if all else fails, there are a thousand more other ventures to embark on. I then set off and moved to Bali in hopes to find that motivated girl I once knew.

Six months into my nomadic journey, I noticed I still had no fuel and instead fell in a deeper hole of failures – a long list of rejected jobs, a pool of credit card debt, and an unclear vision for what I wanted to build for myself.

That all changed the night I received a phone call that changed my entire life. My father had unexpectedly passed away and out of thin air that fire within me had begun to burn.

There are two feelings that every one of us can relate to – the euphoric feeling of success and the discouraging feeling of failure. We continuously go through these motions of experiencing limitless possibilities that propel us with more energy, more drive, and more motivation. Then we have those moments where we dip deeply in our doubts that every ounce of effort to swim back up seemingly weighs us down even more.

The truth is, there is a fire in all of us and there always has been. Becoming too fixated on our failures can make it hard to find that fire or even believe that a fire exists – but it does.

In order to find that fire again, you must first re-shift that focus. So here’s how to get motivation back on track when you’re feeling like a failure:

1. Change your focus

Notice how I mentioned my credit card debt, unclear vision, and a long list of rejected jobs, there? That’s all I was focusing on.

Now it’s time to check in and ask yourself, what are you really focusing on?

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  • Is it a number of missed opportunities you wished you had taken?
  • Is it a string of moments and events that didn’t bring you happiness?
  • Is it a project that resulted in a way you didn’t expect after putting in much dedicated hours and hard work?

Sometimes, we get caught up in this cycle of how to’s rather than the do’s – which is more of a distraction than a motivation.

Other times, we don’t even notice how much focus we’re putting in one particular part of our journey or project without taking a few steps back to see the overall picture.

Most times, we focus on our failures and why we haven’t reached that goal versus looking at all the baby steps that matter – and they matter.

As the saying goes,“one step forward, two steps back.” Life’s unforeseen and even predicted circumstances will always put you two steps back. It isn’t to discourage you on your journey, but instead is giving you an opportunity to take a look at how far you have come and to admire how much more you have to go.

It’s about self-assessing and asking yourself what is working for you. It’s also about taking a breather.

See, what I did there? I just re-shifted the focus.

2. Listen to your inner needle

There’s an inner needle within all of us, which we may either not pay much attention to.

There’s much truth to the saying, “you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others,” but here’s the irony – sometimes the motivation lies behind the person you are motivated by.

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Whether it be your hard-working mom who worked two jobs to put food on the table for you while you were growing up, the restaurant busboy who saves his tips in order to put himself through flight school, or your boss who navigates through million dollar contracts with confidence and character, there is a particular reason why that specific person moves that needle within you – it’s an admired quality they carry.

Listen to that needle and find those qualities within yourself and believe they truly exist.

In order to do this, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone you admire.

For an example, the restaurant busboy putting himself through flight school. He’s working a part-time job while saving enough money to attend flight school because he wants to fly the huge aircrafts that he watches from his rooftop everyday. He doesn’t come from a well to do family and lives in a small town without the accessibility to flight schools and proper training programs.

What motivates him to work those two jobs? It’s the dream. What motivates the dream? It’s to build something for himself and to return home in uniform to make his mother proud. The motivation here is his mother, and this is what motivated my father to leave the small island of Guam in order to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot and fly the Boeing 747 aircraft around the world.

Sometimes it helps to look beyond who motivates you, but instead why.

3. Find your “why”

After my father’s death, I had found my “why” and that is to live with intention – the intention to live a colorful life for the both of us.

With every new day is a new canvas, a new 24 hours, a reset button.

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Deciding on your “why” is the first step to regaining motivation, but acting on your why is what gets the ball rolling.

Tomorrow provides to be a new startover, and by acting on your why today, it will bring you something you did not have yesterday and that is confidence.

When you’re in a place when you’re unmotivated and stuck, confidence is gold. Confidence gets you out of bed and with that confidence you have the mindset to conquer.

4. Reach out to your mentor

Mentors play a huge role in your personal and professional growth. They are individuals – with no limits to the number of mentors one can have– who are there to give you advice and also support you during setbacks.

A mentor is a support system to help motivate you when you feel like a failure and believe in you more than you probably believe in yourself. You can count on them to ask the most powerful and hard-hitting questions with no room for you to run from yourself.

When you’re feeling stuck or failing in life, reach out to that person who’s willing to show you that mirror into your internal self and allow them to guide you back.

To help you find a suitable mentor, these things are what to look for in a good mentor.

5. Defy gravity

Everyone has come across a period in their lives when they lose that momentum. It happens.

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Have you noticed how much energy it takes letting a ball fall to the ground compared to throwing it up in the air? There’s more resistance throwing something compared to letting it free fall – consider that your thoughts.

When certain events in our lives knock us off course, the doubts, negativity, and ideas of failure can drown us quicker and faster than it takes to turn those thoughts back around. These negative thoughts can easily turn into a habit of only pointing out everything you have done wrong versus pointing out everything you have done right.

This is a mirror to our efforts.

Losing motivation happens to everyone, and it’s no hidden secret that the ladder to success or the climb to our place of peace is as simple. By picking out the small things to be grateful, happy, and excited about, the swim back up to the surface gets easier.

Final Thoughts

There’s no perfect remedy or magical switch that can instantly bring those feelings of motivation back into our lives. For some people, it takes something traumatic to occur to reignite that fire; whereas for others, it takes reconnecting to the things and people who ground them.

Keep in mind that your defintion of failure can also be limited to your own beliefs and what you would consider it to be. As humans, it’s natural to be hard on ourselves, but self-compassion also means being a friend to ourselves.

Just remember:

  • Taking two steps back isn’t considered a failure, it’s an observation.
  • Reaching out to others isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s self-growth.
  • Losing motivation doesn’t mean you’re off track, it’s a temporary standstill.

Life comes in waves and although it may feel like you’re sinking under, know that what goes down will eventually make its way back to the top.

Featured photo credit: Max Brown via unsplash.com

More by this author

Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

    In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

    Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

    Common Symptoms

    • Unable to trust your own opinion
    • Always overthinking
    • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
    • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
    • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

    Lesser-Known Symptoms

    Being a workaholic

    At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

    It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

    Overachieving or underachieving

    Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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    However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

    Causes of Low Self-Esteem

    Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

    • Frequent punishment
    • Frequent neglect
    • Chronic abuse
    • Harsh parental standards
    • Being bullied/boycotted
    • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
    • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
    • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

    Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

    How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

    “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

    When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

    That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

    How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

    Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

    How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

    So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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    It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

    Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

    When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

    It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

    As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

    Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

    It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

    People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

    During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

    It Can Lead to Depression

    Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

    How to Improve Self-Esteem

    As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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    1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

    Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

    Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

    2. Focus Elsewhere

    “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

    Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

    When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

    According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

    Or you can refer to the graph below:

    5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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      To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

      • Deep connection with loved ones
      • A healthy body
      • Sense of control
      • A meaningful life purpose
      • Recognition and respect from others
      • Sense of security
      • Creativity

      As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

      Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

      To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

      1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
      2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
      3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
      4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
      5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
      6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
      7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
      8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
      9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
      10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

      The Bottom Line

      If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

      How?

      Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

      Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

      Reference

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