Overcoming FailureAre you happy?  Does happiness seem elusive with an here-today-gone-tomorrow appearance in your life?  The truth is that searching for happiness is a pointless quest.  It’s simply not out there.  But, don’t let that dissuade you from your desire to be happy!  The good news is that you can create happiness.  It’s within the ability of everyone to be happy*.  In my series Creating Happiness, I will show you how.

Overcoming Failure

If you haven’t read the rest of the posts in this series, please do so before continuing with this post!  

It’s almost a new year and you are probably making resolutions for changes you want to make and things you want to accomplish before next December 31st.  I hate to be a downer, but you will probably fail.  I know that’s harsh, but it’s the truth.  It really doesn’t matter if you fail, though.  I’m sure you feel differently about that right now, but after reading this post you’ll be able to see failure for what it is:  Not.a.problem!

We all fail.  Get used to it!  It happens more than any of us like.  The difference between someone who is a failure and someone who is success is that the successful person kept going.  Doesn’t that sound so simple?  If you fail, get up and try again!  If it was that easy, we’d all be doing it, right?  We’d all have a success story!

But, folks, it really is that easy!

Here are my 5 tried and true tips for overcoming failure:

  1. If you fail before reaching your goal, it’s time to reexamine the goal.  Go back to my post in this series about creating SMART goals.  Was your goal easily attainable?  Here’s an example.  If your goal was to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, your goal was unattainable.  But, guess what?  If your goal was to lose 2 pounds in one week and you didn’t, then it wasn’t attainable for you either.  Don’t be afraid to set the bar really low!  Your long-term success may depend on it.  The momentum you get from accomplishing one goal, however small it is, is vital for maintaining your drive toward success.
  2. Try again, just one more time.  Each time you fail, try again just one more time.  Tell yourself each and every time you fail that you will try just once more.  That’s all it takes–just focus on one try at a time.  Don’t spend any time thinking about the fact that it may take several failures before you reach your goal.  Concentrate only on the current try!
  3. Don’t tell anyone about your goals.  Unless you are an extravert who can’t move without a witness to share it with, you don’t need anyone to know what you are working toward.  Of course, if your goals will affect someone else, you may have to share your plans, but otherwise, keep it to yourself and get to work.  A disturbing pattern I saw with therapy clients was that when a client would set a goal and tell family or friends, someone would try to dissuade from their goals.  Whether it was the naysayer who didn’t believe they could be successful or the co-dependent party who didn’t want them to change or the overseer who wanted to catch them failing, there was always someone in their circle who interfered enough to throw them off course.
  4. Reward small accomplishments.  If your long term goal is lower expenses and your SMART goal is to bring your lunch to work every day, reward yourself when you meet your goal.  This may mean taking a small portion of the money you saved to buy a favorite gourmet food or a new book, for example.  These rewards need not cost anything.  You could take a hot bubble bath or spend some time playing a favorite computer game instead.  If you reserve those things only for the days that you meet your goal, they will become special and serve as a source of near-instant gratification.  
  5. Replace old habits with new ones.  This might be the most important tip!  If your goals include extinguishing a behavior (examples are eating junk food, smoking, cursing, overspending, etc) then you MUST replace that behavior with a new behavior!  Attempting to get rid of a negative behavior is difficult.  You will probably fail if you simply declare that you will quit any unhealthy behavior.  Your best attempt at stopping your bad behaviors is to replace them with something healthy.  If you are trying to cut refined sugar from your diet, for instance, replace it with a natural sweetener.  If you want to stop cursing, use nonsensical words instead that make you feel silly to use.  If you overspend, shop at the thrift store instead of the mall.  Eventually the benefits of the new habit may give you so much momentum that you don’t need the replacement habit anymore!

Now you have everything you need to get back on track when you encounter failure.  The most important thing is to not give failure any power.  Acknowledge it, give it a shrug and start over.  It’s really that easy.

 For more tips on getting yourself out of a funk, check out this post from And Here We Are.

How to Overcome Failure