Extreme Failures


Let’s not sugar coat this one.  We are in a different time where political correctness reigns supreme.  Failure is something that we don’t want to experience, let alone talk about.  Everyone is a winner.  No one really fails because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.  People don't fail, they just make poor choices.  We want to include everyone in the winner’s club and not hurt feelings.  The bottom line is that we all fail from time to time.  In fact, if you don’t fail, then perhaps you are not challenging yourself hard enough or even worse, you may have settled for the status quo.  


Settling for the status quo is equivalent to failing, even though you may not necessarily “fail” at anything.  Challenging yourself beyond your limits and failing is better than winning in your comfort zone.  By failing, and failing hard, you learn what needs to be done in the future and you develop strategies that set you up for future success.  But what if you never reach your goal?  What if your goal is something that may be out of your reach?  is this a good thing or a bad thing?  


Psychologists and happiness experts agree that setting goals too high and never attaining them can lead to frustration and dejection.  Setting incremental goals that are attainable (yet challenging) is the key to developing the right psychological stance to achieve more and more goals moving forward.  For example, when you learn how to play a musical instrument like the piano, you don’t set the goal to play one of Chopin’s Etudes in the second month of taking lessons, unless you are a savant on the piano!  The same goes for other goals.  Develop realistic, yet challenging, goals that you can attain in the near future.  Each goal will be different.

If you fail at some of your goals, fail quickly and learn from the failure so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.  Some failures will be easier to take than others.  Keep your ego in check and try not to get emotional about it.  If it hurts, cry it out and move on.  The next goal is waiting for you, and your friends and family are counting on you to move on.  Don’t let them down (or yourself).  

So what do I do if I have an extreme failure?  Here are some tips (can you add to the list?)

  1. Fail swiftly with minimum emotional impact.
  2. Write down what went wrong and what lessons you learned.
  3. Develop a positive outlook on the failure and realize that it is only temporary and does not reflect your inner state.
  4. Even if you feel like crap about the failure, force yourself into a state of happiness by thinking of a similar event where you were successful and truly focus on that event.
  5. Go outside into nature and be grateful of what you see.  Soak it all in and reboot your brain.
  6. Before you begin the activity again, visualize success by using your lessons learned from your failure, combined with your inner sense of confidence and trust.   

Weekly assignment.

Write down the major failures in your life.   Did you learn anything from them?  Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow and turn the failure into a positive experience by learning from the mistake and moving on.  Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t sweat if your list is long.  If your list is not long enough, perhaps you need to challenge yourself more and keep your ego in check or better yet, take your ego and throw it off a cliff.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N