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Dealing with failure is one of those things everyone will have to handle at one point or another.  After all, who hasn’t set a goal that has been aiming for the stars just to fall short of the moon, or even worse not get off the launch pad?  Now the problem could be the goals you set, but that is another issue.  What happens after you set the goal and fail to meet it?  Some people move on as if it was nothing.  After all, the best defense against having failure tear you apart is to have a strong sense of self, and to know that sometimes things happen outside of your control.  For the rest of us who find we have to work through the feeling of failure, there are several things we can do to speed it along and help us succeed the next time around.

Identify your feelings.   When you are looking fresh at your failure, one of the first steps in getting past it is to stop and identify your feelings.  This may sound simple but take the time and try to identify the feelings and give them a name.  Perhaps you are angry, sad, or disappointed it could be any number of feelings.  It could be one or many, but be sure to take a hard look at how you really feel and how the failure makes you feel.  Once you know what the feelings are, you can start moving past them.

Now that you know the feelings you are having it is time to accept them, accept them as valid and that you are right to feel the way you do.  At the same time you are accepting that your feelings are valid remind yourself that they are temporary and because you failed once does not mean you will fail every time.

Identify the negative thoughts.  Start moving past the failure by identifying when you are having negative thoughts.  It does you no good to continue to beat yourself up over something that you can’t change – it is time to start looking forward.  If you have negative thoughts, stop and try to identify a positive affirmation that you could use to turn the negative into a positive.  When you have created your positive affirmation write it down and read it back to yourself daily or whenever you start having the negative feelings.  This will work to reprogram your brain on how you view what has happened.

Stop the blow by blow.   If you find yourself reliving the failure going through each step, you will need to find a way to stop it.  One of the best ways is to write it down, write down everything that happened and why.  When you are done, you can perform a breakdown of what caused the failure and find ways you could have avoided it.  Then you can work on making changes now that will prevent the same from happening in the future.  You will also have information that you can use for the next time too so you do not make the same mistakes.

Identify the cause.  After you have recorded the emotional part of the failure you can start looking at the cause or causes of the failure and you can work towards preventing the same type of failure in the future.  You can now look for any things that could have caused the failure and come up with plans or address issues that may have put these issues in your way.  These are your root causes and you may have found some of them while analyzing the blow by blow.

Make your goals achievable. Going forward, be sure to make your goals achievable; unachievable goals are one of the fastest ways to feel the pressure of failure.  It might just be that you need to break down your goals into smaller bites or aim just a little lower.  It may mean more time to get to your end destination, but setting yourself up to fail by setting unrealistic goals does you no good.

You can be an optimist but balance it with being a realist.  Don’t give up on being an optimist; after all it will make you happier person, but try to also be a realist to offset the high-aiming optimist outlook.  It’s great that you crunch the numbers and everything says if your plan works perfectly you will reach your goals, but what does the realist say?  Perhaps that side would adjust your goals to something much more reachable.  Not saying it can’t happen, but why make your goals that much harder to reach.

Living the dream …. Plan B.  Sometimes Plan A just does not work, so why not have a backup plan?  After all if something does go wrong, you will have a better chance of still succeeding if you have a backup plan.  You cannot plan for every possible obstacle, but planning for possible ones will just give you a better chance to succeed. “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Helmuth Von Moltk

Failures happen but don’t let them define you.  Sometimes failures are nothing more than finding ways to succeed.  Very few people succeed their first time out.  After all, life is a learning experience – just keep trying.


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