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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Fail Forward: How Setbacks Can Fuel Future Success

Fail Forward: How Setbacks Can Fuel Future Success

A reporter once asked Thomas Edison how he felt failing one thousand times. He replied:

“I didn’t fail one thousand times. The light bulb is an invention that requires 1000 steps. I have learned 1000 ways how not to make a light bulb.”

It is the learning when you fail that deserves celebration, not the failure itself. Failure without lessons learned is a failure. When you fail forward, you learn in the process of failure, which means you’ll inevitably get closer to succeeding.

Failure is not a joke; it can be expensive, embarrassing, or heart-breaking. However, the truth is that people who shun failure deny themselves the opportunity to reinvent and innovate.

We all fail at some point in life, but we get to choose whether we stay down or fail forward.

Can Setbacks Fuel Future Success?

Failure can be a great driver of success. Here are some of the main reasons why.

Failure Teaches Better Than the Best Teacher

Every failure comes life lessons that you may never learn from the world’s best university. Failure helps you prioritize what you normally ignore[1].

Perhaps you have been ignoring some bad habits because they are not big red flags yet. Failure will enable you to confront your fears and tendencies in a way you wouldn’t have if you had not failed.

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If you have not failed before, you definitely missed out on opportunities to reflect and figure out your sources of motivation. Check out the video below to learn just why failure is the key to success:

Failure Makes You Strong and Wise

The wisdom and strength that you exude when you share what life has taught are what I’m talking about here. The lessons become a significant part of your journey and success.

Consider actors preparing for a movie. Sometimes, you miss the line while acting the script, and you rehearse. Every rehearsal is an opportunity to become better. Likewise, each setback is an opportunity to develop the courage to fail forward.

Failure Makes Your Story Compelling

Your obstacles produce the most incredible story ever told—stories of how you surmount your challenges and achieve the success you desire. These kinds of stories have impact and give others hope.

It would be uninteresting to reflect at the end of life and realize you have never failed. It would most likely depict a life of mediocrity and complacency. Without failure, you cannot tell compelling stories or record noteworthy feats.

Failure Makes You Fit to Pursue Your Goals

Failing forward despite setbacks means you believe you can. It means you can move on despite obstacles.

This resolution helps you always stay fit to pursue your goals. The judgment and opinions of others can no longer sway you. You are more resolute and committed to seeing your goals come to reality.

9 Tips to Fail Forward

You can leverage failure to start learning and growing in any aspect of your life. Here are 9 proven tips to fail forward.

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1. Determine the Possible Challenges

Begin by determining the exact stumbling blocks between you and your success. When you think about your success, negativity becomes a challenge that can assault your mind.

Go ahead and list all the factors that could cause you to fail. Write them in your journal. When you are done, you have a list of potential limitations to your success.

Now, take them one after the other and reflect on the best ways to overcome them. Activate your action plan, and attack each limitation until you clear all and achieve your next level of success.

2. Develop a Strategy

When you keep aiming at a goal, and you keep failing, refuse self-denigrating thoughts. Instead, assess and change your strategy. You don’t have to change your goals as long as they are SMART goals; you only need to change your approach.

Figure out what you’re missing and design a system to avoid future mistakes. Find an accountability partner or a mentor to share input and ideas on your strategy. Commit at least 10-15 hours refining your strategy, and keep positive people around you to help you avoid negativity.

3. Educate Yourself

It would be great if you could research about what lies ahead of you. Find out if someone has passed through it and learn from their experience.

Thomas Edison made 1000 attempts; how did he manage to fail forward? What can I do to overcome anxiety and depression that comes with failing?

Equip yourself to surmount challenges when they arise.

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4. Seek Advice

Isolation is a killer of success. Don’t isolate yourself from people that can help you. Talk to someone about the circumstances.

If you had the opportunity to meet Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison, what questions would you ask? Perhaps, how Lincoln led the nation through one of the most significant moments in the history of the United States despite his inner troubles. How Edison failed forward until his dream of a light bulb for humanity came to reality.

Ask your contacts to point out limitations and the mistakes they made. Leverage this experience to shorten your learning curves. You can also enroll in courses designed to help you overcome obstacles.

5. Reflect on Your Why

Someone once said if your why is big enough, the how will show up. Take some minutes to write and reflect on why you want to overcome obstacles and achieve your next level of success. Think yourself into the new feeling, esteem, and lifestyle you desire. This is called visualization, and it can be a great tool to help you fail forward.

Fail forward through self reflection

    You can learn more about finding your why in this article.

    6. Live Life With No Regrets

    Value each day and refuse to live your life by default, but by design[2]. Manage your time effectively, and live every second of your life deliberately.

    Pursue your goals, take calculated risks, and know that every risk comes with failure. Embrace each chance you have to fail forward because it will mean one less regret you have later.

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    7. Celebrate Your Small Wins

    Every achievement takes you one step closer to your success. While waiting for the final day, take out time to celebrate those small victories.

    Perhaps you have completed your weekly to-do list; you can pamper yourself. You may visit the cinema, attend a yoga class, or visit the spa. That way, you will generate momentum to surmount the next obstacles.

    8. Learn From Each Day

    Every day is an opportunity to show up in the school of life. Show up to learn from life’s instructor—failure. Open yourself to events and experiences as they present you the opportunity to learn.

    Your greatest teacher in life is failure. The more you fail forward, the less you become afraid of failing as you would have transcended your setbacks and emerged stronger.

    9. Accept Reality

    When you fail, admit it, and accept that life must continue. That’s what failing forward is all about.

    Acceptance helps you to make progress. It helps you to gain liberty so you can figure out the next step to take.

    The Bottom Line

    Above all, maintain a positive attitude. Your attitude is fundamental to your outcome. Always preempt obstacles, and don’t let life happen to you without taking the time to fail forward.

    Don’t stop, and celebrate every little achievement.

    More Tips on How to Fail Forward

    Featured photo credit: Josh Marshall via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

    What Are The Top 7 Priorities To Have In Life? Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips 11 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

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    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

    10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

    The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

    In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

    Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success.

    1. Become Aware of What’s Outside of Your Comfort Zone

    What are the things that you believe are worth doing but, are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

    Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts but, your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

    2. Become Clear About What You Are Aiming to Overcome

    Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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    How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

    Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your look? Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

    3. Get Comfortable with Discomfort

    One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

    Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

    Here’re some tips to help you: How to Overcome Your Resistance to Change for a Better Self

    4. See Failure as a Teacher

    Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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    Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

    Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Check out these 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On.

    Also, grab The Foolproof Guide To Reaching Your Goals This Year. It’s a free guide that can help you to learn from your past mistakes and failures so you can move on to reach your goal. Get your free guide here.

    5. Take Baby Steps

    Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

    Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

    Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps: The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

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    6. Hang out with Risk Takers

    There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. Almost inevitably, their influence will start to have an effect on your behavior.

    Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful.

    7. Be Honest with Yourself When You Are Trying to Make Excuses

    Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

    Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

    8. Identify How Stepping out Will Benefit You

    What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

    9. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

    Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

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    If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

    10. Focus on the Fun

    Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

    Final Thoughts

    It will seem really scary at first to get out of your comfort zone. But as I said, you don’t need to jump right out of your comfort zone at once, you can take baby steps gradually.

    As you slowly push past your comfort zone, you’ll feel more and more at ease about the new stuff which seemed so dangerous to you.

    Take the first step and I’m sure you’ll make it!

    More Tips to Help You Face Your Fear

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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