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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

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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 July 8, 2020

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How Irrational Fears Impact Your Life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why Bother to Fight the Fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why Did This Happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The Tool Kit to Fight Your Fear

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m Awesome?

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out Your Emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge That You Need to Change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe That You Have the Control Power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up Physical Reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical Supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t Go It Alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get Physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose[1] was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

Final Thoughts

A little fear can be good. As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

More About Fighting Fears

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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