top of page

It’s not a failure if you learn from it

Try as I might to plan the topic of my weekly blog in advance, it very rarely happens that way

and while I am wondering what on earth I am going to write about, a bit of a panic usually sets in.

I veer from being somebody who wants to have everything prepared so that I know where I am, to somebody that wants to wait until the last moment for inspiration to strike, so that the topic feels current and real to me.

Most mornings I walk with a friend and we literally don’t stop talking (unless we are walking up the big hill and then I have to go completely silent). When we walk we cover so many topics, each morning is a joy actually and it really sets me up for the day.

One of today’s chats was about our lives before we knew each other and we started to talk about past times that hadn’t quite gone to plan. We briefly touched on how failure at some stage is essential for all of us and the key is, how you deal with it going forward.

And suddenly, I knew I had today’s topic.

I was reminded of a potential client conversation where the client was quite upset and was asking herself how she could have got something so wrong again, how could she have failed again?

We talked about whether we could work together and during the conversation it was clear that this very lovely woman was her own worst enemy.

Over the years she had done the same things over and over again, and they hadn’t worked out how she would have liked.

She didn’t change her approach but still each time imagined and hoped that the outcome would be different.

Guess what, that is just not how life works.

Ten years ago there was an experiment based around food and dieting, half the group were on diets and half weren’t. In one of the studies the dieters were fed pizza and were then told that they had completely blown their diets.

Those that felt they had failed completely then went on to eat 50% more biscuits than the others. They believed themselves to be a completely hopeless case and without looking at what they could change, had decided that there was no point in trying to reach their goals again.

It’s at that point that we need to reframe our thoughts. Ask ourselves ‘what can I learn from this?’ ‘what can I do differently?’ and another helpful way to reframe is to tell ourselves that failure is a sign that we are challenging ourselves, we are getting out there and doing things.

Any challenge that we take on, for us to succeed and feel proud at the end of it, needs our heart to be in it. If your heart isn’t really in it, then don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stay on track.

If your heart isn’t in it and you are unsure why you were pushing for something in the first place, then this is where I encourage you to pause and have a word with yourself.

You haven’t “failed", you have simply learned an important life lesson.

But what if you haven’t stayed on track although your heart is in it, what can you do then?

It’s likely that if you’ve read this far then you may recognise the signs here.

It’s really common for people to take on a big challenge or goal, find themselves overwhelmed and not be able to last the distance. Again, I firmly believe this is not to be viewed as a failure, but a lesson.

If there is something you really want to achieve, but you’ve struggled and missed the mark on your first attempt, then take the lesson onboard, change your approach and try again.

What are the lessons to take on board?

Perhaps you have bitten off a bit more than you could chew and then knocked yourself out trying to do it all?

It really doesn’t matter whether you are trying to lose weight, complete a triathlon, start a business from scratch or quit a bad habit. The basic structure to your approach (the one that will work) will be the same.

You just need a simple strategy that gets you closer to your goal, one small step at a time, fitting around your existing life and commitments:

Get clear on your priorities

Understand the driving force behind your dreams, and how to use that as a motivator when the going gets tough

Make a contingency plan for dealing with problems along the way

Set micro-goals you can stick to, so that you don’t get overwhelmed

Make as much progress as you feel ready for

Don’t dwell on your failures and don’t replay them over and over in your mind

All that will do is keep you stuck. When you think about your failures, look for explanations and not excuses.

When you can identify the reasons why and take some responsibility rather than blaming somebody else, you can work out what to do differently.

Don’t think ‘I am a failure’. Completely change your focus to ‘I’m going to try again’ and take on board what you need to do differently next time around.

If you’ve spent years, perhaps most of your life, without experiencing anything that resembles failure, then it will be all the more scary when it happens.

If that is familiar to you, then I would encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and try some new things, where it’s possible you might fail or you might get rejected.

Once you’ve had some practice at failing, you’ll find it’s not as bad as you might imagine.

Failures can be stepping stones and bottom line, when anything doesn’t go the way you want it to, take a step back, regroup and work out your new strategy.

Then go out there and try again.

If you would like some help to explore how you could make some changes to do things differently so that you get different and better results, then please get in touch.

I would love to hear from you and together we can work out what your new strategy looks like so that life starts to go the way you want it to – the way you deserve.

1 Comment

Great blog, Toni! I think many of us will identify with your words.

bottom of page