When setting out to achieve your goals, do you see success as black and white?
Do you remember to look for the shades of grey? Do you acknowledge milestone achievements or focus only on ultimate victory excluding all outcomes of actions that have helped you triumph?
The road to success is more often than not a mixed bag. There are the smooth stretches where one races through on roller skates. It also has the odd speed breaks and potholes. When one hits the latter two it is easy to get demoralized and drop the goal thinking that one cannot succeed.
That is the EXACT moment when one needs to analyse what went wrong or what steps are needed to get over the hurdle. One also needs to consider whether there has been a full or partial failure. I suggested a strategy for analyzing failure for ultimate success in my post Why Failure is Good.
Continuing along the lines of that post, I now suggest that we look closer at the smaller successes that we have along the way to maintain a positive attitude while we strive to achieve the coveted goal.
Nothing is ever a complete failure. We have all faced setbacks for pet projects at some time or the other and if we really wanted ultimate success, did a course correct even if we did not realize what we were doing at the time.
Finding the small successes and dissolving setbacks
Most of us need a big victory to celebrate but a very small failure to get upset. We make it personal instead of thinking of it as a learning experience that will help us achieve a bigger goal ignoring all those pieces that we got right.
In the Karmic Ally Coaching Self-study course, Life Focus in 7 Days, I write about getting back on track by refocusing after a setback. Instead of talking in terms of failure, I suggest viewing a setback as an event that happens in life and needs to be tackled.
Setbacks and difficulties occur all of the time – they are a natural activity of life. There are two ways of facing difficulties. You either change or alter the difficulty or you can alter yourself to be able to deal with it.
Deal with difficulties correctly and it will enhance your confidence, deal with them incorrectly and they can do some serious damage to your self- worth. In other words, a lot depends upon your response, actions and more importantly, what are you saying to yourself?
You have a choice about your thoughts. If you go for the GIGO approach, your answers would be likewise – Garbage In and Garbage Out.
For example, you’ve finally received an invitation for a job interview with a company that would not only add value to your Resume but also matches your expectations of a desired job’s compensation and career value. You make it to the final selection and then lose out to a stronger candidate.
The recruiter tells you that the client chose the other candidate with more experience in a particular area which you knew have would have required a steep learning curve on your part before permitting your resume to be sent to the prospective employer.
It is natural to be disappointed as the runner up. How do you react? If you start thinking
“Why does this always happen to me? I never have any luck”
Your mind will probably come out with:
“Because you are useless and don’t deserve to get a good job”
Or something equally unkind.
Instead, if you ask yourself a positive empowering question like:
“What did I learn from this setback for future reference so that I don’t make the same mistake?”
Your mind will kick into solution mode and help.
9 things to think about when setbacks occur:
- Acknowledge that it has happened. Don’t hide from it. These things happen. So what?
- Acknowledge that setbacks occur to everyone & you are not being singled out.
- View them as a challenge to overcome rather than an issue or problem
- What positive empowering questions can you ask yourself?
- What is good about this situation?
- How can I make the most of this situation?
- What can I learn from it?
- What are the facts about this problem?
- How can I make it a successful outcome?
If you do this exercise honestly and with an open mind, you will discover that there are small things that you did succeed with and even if you missed the mark, there is enough to feel good about, celebrate it and then get on with fixing what needs to be fixed. You now have a solution blueprint that you know is doable.
You might also discover that the goal that you were running after is not aligned with the rest of your life and perhaps there is a better goal that is aligned with the authentic you.
Coming back to the example, if I were in that situation, I would celebrate the fact that even though I knew I had a weakness, my resume got me the job interview invite. The prospective employer saw something in my profile.
I’d consider whether I need to invest time to learn any new skills and also whether I could do a better interview in future. I’d also be more careful when allowing my resume to be sent for a position by checking how strong a match there is between the job and my profile.
In other words, I’d use the experience to create a blueprint for future success like I did in my story Mission Driving License.
Positive thinking and using different tactics will aid you to achieve your end goal and I discuss the same in my book Goal Achievement Simplified.
Karmic Ally’s Life Coaching Tip:
Reframe your thoughts to find nuggets of success
The next time you are facing a situation where you think you have failed, give yourself this gift.
Try reframing your thoughts and think of the little things that went well. Don’t dismiss the learning. Reframe your thoughts on failure to think of it as feedback on how not to do things. Next time you will get it 100% right. If something did go right, then celebrate it as an achievement.
Instead of surfing the wave of failure, step back and think, “Okay, this did not work out well but at least I did xyz task well”. And celebrate.
Consider a person who is taking steps to lose weight hits a plateau. There is no weight loss in 3 days. Instead of quitting the diet, a better approach would be to consider and celebrate:
- Having maintained that weight for the days that they have instead of piling on more
- Having kept up with their exercise regime
- Having more energy for the things they love to do.
Celebrate the part that went well and keep happy.
Happy people are full of life and provide energy to others to go out and seek happiness themselves.
So this week, step out of misery over goals that are not completely achieved and find that teeny weenie success you did have and celebrate. Try it for size and see the difference it makes in getting back onto the highway of success.
Do you have a different way of motivating yourself when you are about to give up on a goal or hit a roadblock?
I’d love to read about it in the comments box below.
Changing the way we think or accepting that we need to change doesn’t happen overnight. Want to find out more about your change management style? Try this free quiz by filling up the form below. You’ll also receive my tips and resources to help you get ahead. Don’t worry, I don’t spam because professionals don’t do that.
Update: This post was originally written in May 2012 and has been updated for more tips and resources to help the reader succeed in achieving the big win.
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