Four Questions To Ask When You Fail

This is the time of year when many people set goals and make resolutions. And, many people don’t stick to their goals and forget their resolutions over time. Why is that? Why do so many fail to reach their goals? I believe that often it’s because they are afraid of failure.

Failure usually has a very negative connotation. When we’re in school and we’re given an F for Fail, we usually make it mean we didn’t measure up, or we didn’t work hard enough. It can even mean we won’t pass a class. Other failures in our lives have negative meanings attached to them, such as failing in a relationship, or failing in a job. Failure often makes us want to quit.

Like so many negative things, failure has a silver lining. We can use failure to propel us forward toward our goals. However, this will only happen if we change our thoughts about failing. Instead of seeing failure as a negative, awful result, we can look at it as Michael Jordan did when he said,

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games.26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That’s why I succeed.

The truth is, we only truly fail to meet our goals when we quit trying. If we get back up and try again after we fail, paying attention to what we learned from the failure, we will move forward toward our goal. If we can embrace failure in this way, we will stop being afraid to try new things.

If you knew that you would connect with your estranged son or daughter after 15 failed attempts, would you start making those attempts? Of course you would. You’d start right away. If a single person knew they would find their ideal mate after 100 dates with other people, would they start dating? Yes. The failures along the way would simply be part of the journey to success. Guess what? That’s the way all goals are. Maybe you won’t know ahead of time how many times you have to fail before you succeed, but if you keep trying, you will eventually succeed.

Here are some questions to ask yourself next time you fail on the way to a goal:

  • What did this failure teach me?
  • Why is this result perfect for me right now?
  • How does this failure move me closer to my goal?
  • In what way is this actually not a failure, but some form of success?

When you find the answers to these questions, decide what changes you’ll make and try again, and keep going through that process until you reach your goal. Remember, we only fail when we stop trying. So, go out there and experience some spectacular failures and keep moving forward!

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