Have you ever really wanted something but then felt that your success suffered a setback? Maybe you really wanted that new job, to make that relationship a success or quit smoking or lose some weight?
Do you ever have a ‘fear of failure?
Does this sound familiar? I’m going to guess that when you started out, everything went really well at first. You knew what to do and it actually went really well for a while. However you suddenly found that it was harder. Did you begin to feel like you were ‘hitting you head against a brick wall’, so to speak? You may have even felt that you slipped back a little in your progress.
Perhaps at that point, you even gave a big sigh and had some feelings of emptiness and disappointment in your stomach. You felt like a failure and that it’s all just been a big disappointing waste of time. Did you want to give up on your goals?
My question is, were you right? Was it really true? Were you really a ‘failure’?
The answer is, of course, a big, massive NO.
Like any path we tread, like any road from A to B, the path to success, no matter what your goal, has its own twists and turns. Success is not a straight path, but rather peaks and troughs.
We often look at successful people and forget that the multimillionaire business person started out selling trinkets on ebay and had maybe unsuccessful ventures and lost much time and money on the journey to success.
You felt that rush of excitement coming up with your goals. Of course, when we start on our path to a goal, it always, at first, goes well. However soon we reach that feeling of frustration, when its all too easy to feel downhearted. This point on the success path is when you have reached the edge of where your current skill set can take you. New challenges have come up and you need new skills to overcome these unexpected steps on the path.
Now it’s not about feeling good but rather about using all those inner resources of patience, focus, and of course, inner confidence. You must now look around and gain new skills, education or experience to successfully overcome the next phase. You might have to ask advice, get some coaching or do things you were initially uncomfortable considering, such as actually making time for your goals, borrowing money, or sacrificing other comforts for the sake of long term success. At that early stage, so many just give up and say they ‘failed’. Of course when you think about it, it’s not ‘failure’ but rather a new situation and you are receiving FEEDBACK about where you are. You haven’t made it yet and that’s okay. Real success takes time, patience, grit and determination.
Success in any field involves a quick move up and forward with a feeling of progress. However you then reach a plateau and then a small regression happens. This is when your new challenges set in. This is then followed by a movement again upwards. Change is about peaks and troughs, it’s about ups and downs. Success is about mastering those troughs.
We often only see the peaks, the gold medals, the big profits but forget the hundreds of hours, the grit and determination that were needed during those troughs. The troughs are like waves, you can either accept them and workout how to ride them and in so doing even enjoy them or alternatively get swept away.
This is how success works, whether your goal is growing a business, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting down stress, learning a musical instrument or studying for a test. You didn’t ‘fail’, you didn’t read the situation and the feedback you were getting about your current plan to reach your goal.
All too often a person will feel a degree of success and then see a dip and get down-heartened and even give up, feeling that their efforts had been wasted. However what is actually being experienced is a normal feature of how success works.
Success is not a straight line upwards, but rather an up followed by some small downs and then ups and then small downs and then some ups again, until you get to your goal.
It’s staying focused and motivated during the ‘downs’ that is so important.
So don’t get disheartened, rather grit your teeth and stick with it! Decide what you need to learn in order to get to the next stage.
Maybe this coaching analogy will work for you:
I often tell my life coaching clients about how I love to run. I used to run regularly. It was always the same story every time. The first 10 minutes I loved and felt great. This was, of course, because I had loads of energy and it was easy. Yet at about 10 minutes in, my body would start to get tired. I wanted to stop and sometimes really did feel like just walking home. I felt like giving up. I also feel a sense of failure too.
However, I’d press on despite this feeling of tiredness. Pressing on because I knew that I could run for a good 20 -30 minutes more. I knew I could make it!! I understood how success works. Just because you reach a ‘trough’, you don’t just give up. It’s a sign that you need to dig deeper and tap into some more resources. I knew that I was capable of reaching my running goal and that the initial stage is always easier and it’s the later part where the challenges lie. Once past that initial ‘trough’ feeling, I decide to commit to the journey and get in a rhythm. I can then actually stick at it and sometimes feel like running forever.
That initial feeling of ‘failure’ soon goes when I see that it was really just the natural feeling of tiredness after my first go at running. I keep my focus on my goal and do what I need to do to get through that dip or ‘trough’ in my performance. After that feeling of ‘down’, I’m soon heading forwards and upwards again.
So too, this is the case with learning any other skill. Let’s take for example someone who wishes to lose some weight. Not always easy to maintain in the long term, right? However, if you look at it as we have outlined here, you may find you stick at it much longer.
Losing weight is actually a skill to be learnt, just like any other skill. This means that , at first you do well and you feel great. However, just as we outlined about, those initial weight loss skills run out of their usefulness. This happens when you meet new, previously unmet challenges. The important thing is to realize that gaining some weight or any setback will actually serve to help you succeed. It’s not failure time but ‘FEEDBACK’ time! It’s the time to collect valuable information, which will tell you what your challenges are and allow you to come up with ideas to overcome them. You might need to seek support or educate yourself in someway, or dig deeper in your wells of confidence and determination.
This means that if you do put on weight – it’s not a ‘failure’ but a natural part of life’s cycle. It’s a nature part of your success journey. The key is not to just give up. Rather it’s an opportunity to look at what happened and gain insight into how to get greater success in the future. Only by getting ‘feedback’ from your experiences can you reach your goals.
Next time you feel like your goals aren’t working out, rather than being hard on yourself, remember our advice here. Use that twist in the road as an opportunity to learn what you really truly need to be successful. Enjoy the challenge. Your experiences are a resource.