Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 18, 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.”

Thomas Edison must have mastered the art of failing forward.

Here’s something crucial to note about failure!

It is the learning when you fail that deserves celebration, not the failure itself. Failure without lessons learned is a failure.

Failure is not a joke; it is expensive to fail. It’s not fashionable as well. The truth is people who shun failure deny themselves the opportunity to reinvent and innovate.

Let’s face it, we must have failed at one point in life, but we chose to stay down or fail forward.

Can Setbacks Fuel Future Success?

In our article, “6 Reasons Why Embracing Failure Helps You Succeed,” we reiterated that failure is an incredible driver to success.

1. Failure Teaches Better Than the Best Teacher

“The bigger your failure, the bigger your chance of achieving success.”

What’s the rationale behind this fact?

Advertising

It’s because with every failure comes life lessons that you may never learn from the world’s best university. Failure helps you prioritize what you normally ignore. 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.

Here’s another quick one!

If you have not failed before, you definitely missed the opportunities to reflect and figure out your motivations.

2. 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.

It’s like the making of 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.

3. 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 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.

4. Failure Sharpens You and Causes You to Grow

It’s like an iron that has not been sharpened by iron (challenges). Setback signals the need to grow. This is because failure can shape and mold you to fit the personality that matches your destiny. Why not look beyond your present predicament and focus on the person of your dream?

5. 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 to 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.

Advertising

9 Tips to Fail Forward

You can leverage failure to fuel your growth in any aspect of your life. Here are 9 proven tips to fail forward.

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.

What if I fail? What if I don’t make it to the end?

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 the best ways to overcome them. Activate your action plan. 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-degenerating 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. Keep positive people around you and think positively.

3. Educate Yourself

It will be great if you can 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 the failure? What can I do to overcome anxiety and depression that comes with failing?

Equip yourself to surmount challenges when they arise.

Advertising

4. Seek Advice

Isolation is a killer of success. Don’t isolate yourself from people that can help you. Talk to someone either your mentor or an accountability partner 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 WHYs

We wrote in detail on how to utilize the 5 WHYs to get to unravel the possible cause of your obstacles. It’s time to put this knowledge to practice.

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!

6. Live Life With No Regrets

It will be worse to live this cosmos, regretting you didn’t give it your best shot.

You will die someday. Why not die empty? The global average lifespan is 72 years. That means you have, on average, about 26,280 days to live.

Value each day and refuse to live your life by default, but by design. 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. However, you cannot become successful without taking risks.

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.

Advertising

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, the less you become afraid of failing as you would have transcended your setbacks and emerged stronger and fit.

9. Accept Reality

When you fail, admit! Admit that there’s nothing you can do about the failure. Accept that life must continue, and 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.

Final Thoughts

Above all, maintain a positive attitude. Your attitude is fundamental to your outcome. Always preempt obstacles, and don’t let life happen to you.

Refuse to live your life by default, but by design. Seek counsel from past overcomers and learn from their experience.

Keep moving. Don’t stop, and celebrate every little achievement. Fail forward, and fail fast!

More Tips on How to Fail Forward

Featured photo credit: Josh Marshall via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

Social Learning How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways how to make a life plan How to Make a Life Plan That Works (With a Life Plan Template) Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How to Tackle Them How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up

Trending in Mental Strength

1 How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good 2 15 Simple Things You Can Do to Boost Your Daily Motivation 3 How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week 4 10 Reasons Why You Should Love Yourself First 5 What Is an Existential Crisis? (And How to Cope With It)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

Negative thinking can make us feel as though we are never truly good enough to change our lives. Whether we believe that we are not good looking enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, or something in between, we are always right.

We often tell ourselves the following:

“I’m not good enough to accomplish this.”

“They won’t like me. I’m too ugly to be around them.”

“I won’t ever be able to get out of this situation.”

How we see ourselves dictates how we lead our lives. This simple truth, while it is currently impacting your reality in a negative way, is actually good news. Why?

You can change your thinking, and when you can change your thoughts, you can change your reality.

Put simply, if you start to believe and feel like you are good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, or other things, you begin to see yourself in that light. If you tell yourself that you are capable of achieving greatness, you will eventually get there!

Advertising

That said, many find themselves wondering what to do when they get stuck in negative thinking. Are you tired of letting negative thinking run your life? Do you want to take control of how you feel and put yourself out there?

If you want to start writing your own narrative, let’s learn more about negative thought cycles and how you can change your own internal voice.

Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

You aren’t going to wake up one day and find that you are suffering from random negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are often a mix of ideas that we develop on our own, as well as ideas that we may have gotten from others.

For example, if you are constantly watching media where individuals are depicted as having thin bodies and perfect skin (and you do not have the same characteristics as those who are traditionally considered to be beautiful), you may come to the conclusion that you are not beautiful or deserving of love.

This is far from the truth, but your own take on how the world works can play into how you feel about yourself.

Equally harmful, the opinions of others can start to affect our self-perception. If several people tell you something negative about yourself, you may begin to take these opinions to heart, telling yourself the same things over time. This self-belief then becomes the model for how you live.

More often than not, the reality is that individuals who lack confidence and self-esteem are going to develop negative thought patterns.

This does not mean that confident people do not face internal crises of their own. After all, everyone is prone to experiencing a negative thought here and there. However, those who are self-aware and confident are able to bounce back from these thoughts and return to their truth.

Advertising

Those who do not think highly of themselves, on the other hand, are going to keep believing the negative thoughts that come into their mind. The issue? These negative thoughts turn into a repetitive cycle that becomes harder to break over time.

When you tell yourself something for months or years at a time, it can be difficult to transform that internal dialogue into something more positive and realistic. But is it possible? Absolutely!

The Importance of Quitting Negative Thinking

Beyond low-self esteem, there may be mental health-related causes behind your negative thought patterns, like depression. One of the major symptoms of depression is, you guessed it, negative thoughts. Depression can make us feel unworthy of love and life, even if we have everything we could wish for[1].

You may be struggling with anxiety disorders instead, which can paint uncertain visions of the future and leave you anticipating the worst long before the moment has arrived. Some people have anxiety about the present or will return to past moments where they felt as though they failed, which affects their feelings about who they are or who they will be[2].

Having mental health issues can make your situation more complex, but it is important to know that these types of health issues are highly treatable, especially with the assistance of a mental health professional. You are deserving of self-love, and getting help is the first, most important step of your journey!

How to Break the Cycle of Negative Thinking

In order to overcome your negative thought process, you are going to need two things: self-awareness and a willingness to love yourself. Once you are armed with these two tools, take a look below to learn more about how you can break free of the cycle of negative thinking.

1. Become Aware of the Thoughts That Are Affecting You

Negative thoughts are hard to catch because they have a tendency to become a part of who we are. These thoughts build our belief system and go unchallenged, even when they pop up daily.

All change begins with awareness. Whatever it is that you believe about yourself, take the time to pay attention to your own dialogue.

Advertising

What are you saying to yourself on a regular basis? How does it make you feel? Is any of it true?

 

When these thoughts are brought to your attention, you begin to notice just how often you are saying these things to yourself. Once you’ve cultivated awareness around these thoughts, you can begin to develop the change that you want.

2. Learn to Accept Them as They Come (and Move on)

A lot of people believe that you have to completely remove negative thinking patterns from your life in order to be happy. Not only is this not possible, but it’s also not true. You are going to experience negative thoughts regardless. It’s what you decide to do with these thoughts that matters.

Next time a negative thought comes into your mind, treat it like a passing car. Acknowledge it and let it pass you by. Don’t try to wave the driver over to you or continue thinking about once it has passed. Just let it go.

Giving power to your thoughts allows them to have control over you. You can’t stop a negative thought from entering your mind, but you always have the power to let it go!

3. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Our own beliefs play on a loop, telling us certain things over and over again. While it’s important to let go, it is also important to get to the root of these issues and figure out where they are coming from.

Let’s imagine that you are telling yourself you are stupid throughout the day. If you notice this pattern, ask yourself: Does this have any basis in reality? Am I really stupid or am I telling myself this unnecessarily? Is there any evidence to support this[3]?

Advertising

Challenge negative thinking by asking questions.

    Challenging your negative thoughts will help you realize that they are highly-exaggerated and untrue. This gives you the opportunity to transform these negative thoughts into positive ones that resonate with you.

    4. Replace These Thoughts with Kinder, More Realistic Alternatives

    Anything that is broken must be replaced. The broken record playing on a loop within you can easily be changed to a tune that you can actually sing to.

    Whenever a negative thought comes up, take the time to stop yourself and think of something positive to put in its place. If you find yourself saying, “I can’t do this,” try telling yourself that you are more than capable instead.

    Keep in mind, however, that you need to tell yourself things that you truly believe. If you start telling yourself things that don’t resonate with you and encounter a situation that proves your belief wrong, you may do more harm than good!

    Bottom Line

    Changing the way you think is a rigorous but rewarding process that will change your outlook on life. If you find yourself struggling with negative thinking, learn more about where they come from and how you can stop them for good with the guide above!

    More on How to Stop Negative Thinking

    Featured photo credit: Max Ilienerwise via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next