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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

7 Reasons Why You Keep Failing in What You Do

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7 Reasons Why You Keep Failing in What You Do

Success always starts with failure. Successful people tell their stories about how they failed and how they turned these failures into success, and one day you will, too. If you find yourself asking, “Why do I keep failing?” then keep reading.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is courage that counts.” Our courage is born from the actions we choose to take when we face our failures and we reflect on what we have learned.

The path to success is not straightforward, and getting things right all the time is not realistic or helpful. Failure is a learning experience that shows us how not to do things, and it gives us the opportunity to keep fixing what we are doing wrong until we get it right.

Your failures are your learning opportunities. Thomas Edison said,

“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

He did find one way that did work for one of his famous inventions, and that was the electric lamp.

Failure offers you the opportunity to grow, to become wiser and smarter than you were before. However, if you are not using the opportunities that your failures offer you, then you will never be able to achieve the success you want in life.

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Here are 7 reasons why you may feel like you are failing in everything you do. Address these 7 reasons and you will find that instead of experiencing constant failure, you will be achieving more in life.

1. Fear of Failure

Being afraid of failure paralyzes us. When we feel like we are failing all the time, we begin to see failure as something that is designed to punish us[1]. This is not a great mindset to have when you are presented with an opportunity. If you have a fear of failure, then you are setting yourself up to fail before you have even started.

2. Wanting Too Much Too Quickly

Social Media has a huge influence on how we live our lives. There are thousands and thousands of people on social media describing their incredibly successful lives with very short snips of video and lots of pictures of their material wealth: flashy houses, cars, planes, clothes, shoes, boats, and the list goes on.

We are constantly exposed to the concept that success is in the palm of our hand and all we have to do is go get it.

The message we get told over and over is that you can have anything if you dream big. That is the first mistake we make—we go dream big and set incredibly challenging goals, and when we don’t get the results we hoped for, we become very discouraged and give up.

There is no problem with aiming high and dreaming big. What you do need to take into consideration when aiming high, however, is the amount of effort, dedication, and work it takes each day to get even close to your goals.

Instant results are not realistic, so be very aware that the goals you set to reach the mountain top are realistic and achievable, one step at a time, not 100 steps at once.

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3. Lack of Planning

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

Lack of planning works hand in hand with wanting too much too quickly. To achieve your dreams and goals in life, you need to have a plan. No plan means you are less likely to succeed. A plan gives your direction, keeps you on track, and holds you accountable.

A good plan will have attainable, measurable, specific goals all heading in a direction that will take you closer to achieving your goals. Also, think about and be prepared for the challenges and obstacles you may face, and have a plan to manage these as well.

4. Giving up Too Easily

Giving up is the number one reason why people fail. The road to success is tough, and there are a lot of bumps along the way. When you experience failure or rejection, it becomes easier to give up.

The next time you want to give up, remember that you are not your failures. Don’t attach your success to the project that failed or the rejection you experienced.

Reset your mind and use your power of choice to determine what you do next—nobody else has that power over you!

5. Resistance to Seeking Advice and Help

“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.” Edmond Mbiaka

The journey to achieving your dreams and goals in life can not be done alone—this is not a solo journey! One reason why you are feeling like you fail at everything you do can be because you are reluctant to get feedback from people or seek help.

Constructive feedback is important to hear as it offers you a different perspective on what you are doing and what you are hoping to achieve. It may be that what you believe is right, others don’t, and that’s okay. However, it is always good to know why they think that way.

In situations where you are confronted with hardship and failure, it is important to seek feedback and advice. What they tell you might be uncomfortable to hear, but if it is constructive feedback, it will help you gain insight and learn important lessons about how to move forward in your life rather than going backwards.

6. Not Learning From Past Mistakes

Important lessons are learned from the mistakes you make. However, these lessons are irrelevant if you choose to ignore them. The consequence of you ignoring those lessons is that you will keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again until you finally get the message—or not!

Don’t bury your mistakes. Spend time reflecting on what went wrong for you and what you learned about that experience. Find out what did not work, and then figure out what you can do to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

7. Not Believing in Yourself

You can be the most intelligent and talented person in the room, but if you don’t believe in yourself, then failure rather than opportunities will dominate your life.

What separates successful people from unsuccessful people is that successful people believe in themselves. They believe they can achieve the goals they set and that they can deal with the challenges and obstacles that will confront them.

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If you are constantly seeking reasons for why things are not working for you or have a habit of blaming anyone or anything but yourself, that is a definite sign that you have to work on your self-belief.

When you start backing yourself and believing in you and what you can achieve, you will be less likely to give up. Instead, your conviction will fuel you to find that solution that will work for you.

Our power of choice is the only thing we can really control. We can choose to allow failure to discourage us, or we can choose to use the experiences of failure to strengthen our determination to keep moving forward.

The Bottom Line

Once you choose to take action and eliminate these 7 reasons that are blocking you from living a successful life, you will find that success replaces failure, and you will naturally have more self-belief in what you can achieve.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” -Henry Ford

More Tips on Overcoming Failure

Featured photo credit: Matias Malka via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Published on October 14, 2021

How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever worry about being exposed as a “fraud?” You’re not alone. It’s actually quite common for people to feel like imposters. In fact, approximately 70 percent of people admit to having experienced impostor syndrome[1] at some point in their lives — a Twitter poll found that 87 percent of people have experienced this.[2] Even successful and famous people like Tom Hanks, Howard Schultz, and Natalie Portman suffer from imposter syndrome.

But, what exactly is imposter syndrome. And, more importantly, how can you silence it?

Originally coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D., the term “impostor syndrome” describes symptoms that include being unable to internalize accomplishments and being afraid of being exposed as a fraud.

The individual may also be plagued by chronic self-doubt and believe that they’re unqualified for success despite evidence to the contrary. Inadequacies, fears of failure, and disbelief that success is a matter of luck or timing are also common.

If you don’t address this phenomenon, feeling like an impostor can prevent you from achieving ambitious goals. Moreover, those experiencing these feelings tend to over-prepare or procrastinate — which obviously hinders productivity and reaching goals. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, imposter syndrome prevents you from pursuing new challenges and opportunities.

Do you feel like you’re suffering from impostor syndrome? If so, don’t beat yourself up. After all, there are effective ways to overcome these feelings in a healthy and proactive way.

1. Don’t Hide It.

“Firstly, acknowledge it,” advises Claudine Robson,[3] the Intentional Coach. “You give strength to imposter syndrome by letting it continue to peck away at your confidence unchecked.” It can only be banished if you acknowledge it as soon as possible and break the silence.

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“Then you need to separate your feelings from facts,” Robson adds. “One thing imposter syndrome does very effectively is to mix up your perceptions of reality.”

If you can, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. “Recognize when you should — and when you should not — feel fraudulent,” she says. Appreciate and acknowledge the task, intellect, and insight that have led to your success.

You might even be able to take action by recognizing that the reason you feel fraudulent is that you’re new to a task. “That gives you a path forward; learning is growth, don’t deny yourself that.”

2. Implement the STOP Technique

In her book Cognitive Enlightenment, Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., outlines a technique to overcome imposter syndrome using what she calls the STOP technique.

“STOP is an acronym for ‘silence the oppressive player,” Fouts explains in Forbes.[4] “You need to eradicate this tape that is playing 24/7, whether you are conscious of it or not. It plays loudest when we are tired, hungry, or feeling defeated.”

Steps to implementing the STOP technique and rewiring your brain are as follows:

To replace the tape of not good enough, you need a “launch sentence.” “I’m more than good enough” would is an example of a solid launch statement.

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Put your launch sentence in prominent locations, such as your car’s dashboard or computer. How come? The reason is that as the tape plays, you won’t be able to remember your launch statement.

Continue to say “stop” until you recall your launch sentence, says Fouts.

Put your launch sentence into your own words and pontificate.

While going about your daily tasks, like while driving or exercising, practice your launch sentence so you can recall it when you need it in the future.

“I am told this sounds simple and it does,” she adds. However, this technique is challenging when your negative tape is playing. You will not want to replace the tape every day while your brain is rewiring itself. “It is these moments you can’t give up.”

3. Distinguish Humility and Fear

When it comes to hard work and accomplishments, there’s humility, and then there’s fear. In other words, having a high level of competence can lead one to discount its value occasionally. However, as Carl Richards wrote in an article for the New York Times,[5] “After spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”

The problem is that we feel unworthy from time to time. But, as Seth Godin explained in a blog post,[6] “When you feel unworthy, any kind response, positive feedback or reward feels like a trick, a scam, the luck of the draw.”

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Feeling worthy without feeling entitled is possible. And, finding the right balance between them is critical for overcoming impostor syndrome. “Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory,” Godin continues. “We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open, or humble.”

4. Keep a “Brag Sheet”

When you were sending out college applications, did you build yourself a “brag sheet?” If not, here’s a clean description from Shawna Newman,[7] “A brag sheet is very similar to a student resume – it highlights your accomplishments, key experiences, leadership skills, and employment throughout your secondary education.” In short, “it’s a quick reference guide with all the details and achievements for someone trying to get to know you better.”

While it may be awkward at first, you can apply the same concept when coping with imposter syndrome. Just compose a list of your accomplishments, activities, skills. That’s it. Just remember Godin’s advice and also be humble and gracious.

As an added perk, besides being an effective way to talk myself up, I’ve also found that this has helped me stop comparing myself to others. Instead of harping about other people’s milestones, I’m honing in on what I’ve done.

5. Celebrate Wins, Period

Speaking of accomplishments, they shouldn’t be categorized as small or big. After all, you feel as if you don’t belong when you have imposter syndrome. So, the more you celebrate your wins, the more confident you’ll become.

Furthermore, accept compliments without qualifying them and practice listening to praise every day. Finally, become kinder to yourself by saying at least one kind thing to yourself daily. And, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

6. Assemble a Legion of Superheroes

“You know how corporations have a board of directors to — in theory — make them stronger, maintain checks and balances, leverage resources, and help advance the organization’s vision?” asks inspirational speaker, speaking coach, and creative consultant Tania Katan.[8] “Why not assemble your own board of directors to leverage resources to help make your career stronger, keep you in check and balanced, and advance your vision?”

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“My friend Alison Wade, president of conferences, training, and consulting at Techwell, calls her personal board of directors her “front-row” — those are the people she invites to sit spitting distance from the stage, cheer her on, challenge her, and review her performance,” Katan writes.

As for Katan, she calls hers a “legion of superheroes.” The reason? “I dig the idea of joining forces to do good in the corporate galaxy.”

It’s important to have a diverse group of individuals who will defend you. Ideally, they should be varied in all dimensions, such as cultural background, way of thinking, and skills.

Katan recommends that you meet together frequently, whether if that’s once a week or every quarter. “Share your experiences, fears, creative ideas, aspirations,” she adds. “Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” You also need to both support and challenge each other. “Discover what you are capable of doing when you combine your powers.”

7. Visualize Success

Follow the example of a professional athlete by imagining yourself crushing that presentation or project. You’ll enjoy the relief from performance-related stress. And, more importantly, it can help you avoid focusing on the worst-case scenario.

Final Words of Advice

While there’s no single formula to cure imposter syndrome, the tips listed above are a start. After all, your success depends on your ability to fight the negative effects of it. For example, feeling unworthy over time can lead to crippling anxiety and depression if left untreated.

If you’ve tried the above, then make sure that you speak to someone about what you’re experiencing, whether it’s a mentor, peer group, or licensed professional. And, above all else, there’s a place at the table for everyone — no matter what your inner voice is telling you.

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How to Silence the Impostor Syndrome was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider via unsplash.com

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