Failure is something that everyone experiences and it is easy to get beat down by it. However, if you talk to the most successful people, you will find a common theme. They have all failed and have used their failures to learn and grow. In fact, many successful people credit failure as the fuel behind their success.
Failure is a cryptic teacher and it can take time to determine the lessons that it is trying to teach you. Failure hurts your ego and this is where most people put their focus because this is a natural reaction.
However, once you take the time to evaluate the failure, you will see that the teachable moments exist and you will be able to figure out what they are.
There are a few things that you need to do when you experience a failure. This allows you to unearth the lessons and it helps you to prevent or better prepare for future failures.
Look at Your Methods of Planning
In many cases, things fail because you did not plan for them properly. It may be that you sped through the planning process or that you did not outline your goals properly. In some cases, people do not account for the obstacles that inevitably occur, especially with major undertakings.
When you take on your next major task, you want to put some time into the thinking stage. Start by doing a brainstorming board because this allows you to just get your ideas out on paper so that you can tweak them during the preparation process.
Planning also needs to include all of your goals. Remember that all large goals need smaller goals that lead up to them. Look back at your most recent failure and put a strong emphasis on the goals that you made. Did you make enough smaller goals to get you to every large goal?
Lastly, your planning stage should create a timetable for the completion of your project. Make sure that you give yourself a little more time than you think that you need.
For example, if you think something will take two days, give yourself three or four days. This helps you to cope with obstacles and if you do finish early this adds some motivation to help you to keep going.
Evaluate Your Preparation
Many people combine planning and preparation and if you think about your last failure, you will probably see that you either combined them or you went through each process too quickly. One of the best lessons that failure can teach you is that you must adequately prepare before taking on a major task.
This simple example shows the importance of preparation: You have made a goal to go to the gym four days per week. However, due to lack of preparation, you find that you do not have a babysitter two of those days so your gym plans are already derailed.
Preparation should be well thought out and something that you put emphasis on. Make sure that you allow adequate time for this process and the larger the goal, the more preparation you will need.
Did Your Execution Go According to Plan?
Execution is what most people spend the most time on and this is important, but your efforts must be consistent to get the best results. Think back to how you carried out the execution and be honest with yourself about things like your motivation, efforts and work ethic.
Could you have been more consistent? Could you have worked harder? In most cases, the answers to both questions is "yes."
The execution is where all of those obstacles that you planned and prepared for tend to occur. How you deal with these obstacles has a major impact on whether or not you are successful.
Some people cave when obstacles occur and this giving up causes automatic failure. It is easy to cave because human beings naturally have negative emotions when something bad happens and these emotions have significant consequences.
It is important to remember that you can use these negative emotions as motivation, however. In fact, if you read some stories about how successful people got started, you will find that they experienced the same emotions that you do when you fail.
The difference is that they use these emotions as a fuel to motivate them to be greater and to be successful. It takes some practice to learn how to use negative emotions for good, but anyone can do this.
Know that You Cannot Control Everything
This is the hardest lesson to learn because it is human nature to constantly want to be in control of everything. However, no matter how well you plan and prepare, there are things that are outside of your control and there is nothing that you can do to change this.
Those who recover from failure and find success often point out that this is the biggest lesson that they learned.
For example, if you are planning the wedding of the year for a client, you can do everything right and still have your goals thrown off by weather if the wedding is outdoors. This is why you need to go back to planning and preparation. If you planned and prepared adequately, you will have alternate plans.
So, while something that you cannot control killed your goals, your planning and preparation have given you options so that you can still host a successful wedding.
When you evaluate failure, look at what happened and determine what things were out of your control. This will improve your planning and preparation for future projects and tasks, reducing the risk of future failure.
After experiencing a failure, give yourself a little time to recover from it before pushing forward. This is important because if you do not take the time to deal with the associated feelings, this can actually lead to self-sabotage.
Give yourself a few days to recover from your bruised ego and frustration and then use these emotions to motivate yourself to do something greater.