It’s the first Monday in a new month, and the first quarter of 2015 is coming to an end. It’s a great time to review the goals you set at the beginning of the year and assess where you are. If you have set any goal – no matter how big or small – you know it’s important to not just say you want to achieve something, but you have to also do the work and put in the time to reach it. But what happens when you’ve done all you can do, you’ve put in too many hours to count and you’ve invested as much as you can into reaching your goal, yet you still haven’t achieved it? What now? The truth is, even when we do all we can possibly do, there are some goals that go unreached – some successes that we never experience. Even with our best efforts, sometimes we fail.
I don’t know about you, but that hurts. Can you think of a time when you tried your best, but you just didn’t do what you set out to do? Here’s what I want to talk about today. How you deal with failure. Because here’s the deal: It’s not the failure that matters, it’s how you respond to it that determines whether or not you get back up and try again or you get set back and give up.
What Do You Do When You Fail To Reach Your Goal?
If we’re honest with ourselves, failure is painful! No one sets out with the plan to fail, yet it is inevitable if you’re doing something that matters. And that’s exactly why it hurts. The goals we set are because we want to be in a different place or position that we are in at the present time, which means we expect a benefit or reward for achieving them. So when we fail, that means there is no reward and we didn’t experience the benefit that we expected. But what if there is a reward for failure? What if you actually gave yourself permission to fail – not as an excuse, but as the true benefit of taking action even if it didn’t lead to the desired result.
John Maxwell said it best with this quote: “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”
Just think of the benefits of going after your goals – even if you don’t reach them:
- You learn what works and what doesn’t work – a lesson you couldn’t learn if you never took action.
- You learn how to be flexible. There’s nothing like an unmet deadline to teach you how to be flexible.
- You learn how to get help. Some goals are too big to try to do on your own, you learn quickly how to ask for help when you have big goals.
- You learn how to be a good sport. Have you ever played competitively in a sport and the person who lost just goes into a funk and almost makes you feel guilty for winning? As former athlete, we call that a sore loser. Here’s some advice as it relates to reaching goals: When you fail, Don’t be that person. Dust yourself off, be a good sport and get back in the game.
- You learn that you’re human. Failing is such a humbling experience. It teaches us we’re all human, we make mistakes and must move on.
So what do you do when you fail? You learn.
Failure can be your greatest teacher and your best motivator if you let it. The key is to realize you, yourself are not a failure, and you don’t have to fear failure because you know it’s a part of growing and learning.
How To Win Even When You Fail Resources
Failure is such a part of success that several people have written about it, spoken about it and live their lives by the lessons learned from it. Here a few resources to help you fail forward and keep reaching towards your goals.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
“No man ever achieved worth-while success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.” – Napoleon Hill
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden
“Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
Books On Overcoming Failure
- John Maxwell, Failing Forward: How To Turn Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success
- John Maxwell, Sometimes You Win–Sometimes You Learn
- Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
- How To Move Past Failure
- What I Do When I Fail, Leo Babauta at Zen Habits
- What To Do When You’re Scared of Failing
- 12 Things To Tell Yourself After a Mistake or Failure