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The Success of Failure: Four Ways to Turn a Negative Situation into a Positive Experience

It’s hard to talk about failure.  When we dream up things to do and goals to reach, rarely does we say “hey, I don’t really want to accomplish all this”. No one ever sets out to fail and yet, failure is par for the course: a diet that gets derailed; a workout that gets ignored;  that self-care routine that was going to epic.  Things do not always go as expected.  Life comes with ups and downs and we have to take the downs as they come.

The silver lining is that failure is subjective.  Think about it, we get to determine what constitutes failure: we can take the unaccomplished goal and see it as a failed attempt, or we can see it through a more positive lens.  Growth can come from not reaching a goal, for with each failed attempt, we better understand what doesn’t work in our life.  It is through these failed attempts that we get to explore, examine, and investigate what will ultimately work. 

Ready to flip the switch on how you perceive failure?  Here are four things to do next time things go astray:

  • Use it as a learning lesson:  What did you learn from the situation?  You may not have run the 7-minute mile you wanted, but you did improve your stride.  You couldn’t go a week without takeout, but you learned takeout is a part of your life during a hectic week.  There is a lesson to learn when things go in an unexpected direction.  Finding that lesson may be helpful in the long run as it will filter out what doesn’t fit into your lifestyle.
  • Set realistic expectations: Those daily, hourlong meditation sessions you had planned out but couldn’t do?  Maybe they do not belong in your routine.  5:00 am workouts? Great for influencers, but probably not for your lifestyle.  When you set up unrealistic expectations you end up setting yourself up to fail.  It is that simple.  Be true to yourself and honest with what you can handle– right now.  You can eventually challenge yourself and increase your goals, but for now handle what you can and not set yourself up for unreasonable results.
  • Celebrate it: If the mindset was ingrained in you that failure is bad, shift that mindset.  Do not feel bad for what happened, celebrate what you did accomplish.  You tried; you made an effort.  That counts for something.  Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that failing is par for the course.  Own it, but don’t forget that you are one step closer to reaching your goal and that is reason enough to celebrate.
  • Set up a new game plan: Things didn’t work the way you wanted them to.  Examine what went well and what needs to change in order to yield success next time.  Come out bigger, better, stronger the next round.  Perhaps you need to schedule workouts into your day in order to make them happen.  Do it.  Maybe you need to do the grocery shopping online so you only buy what you need.  Then sign yourself up for online delivery.  Or maybe you need more support from those around you to help you succeed.  Start recruiting your loved ones.  Get a plan in place to ensure success.  Almost anything can happen with a little planning.  

-Progress, Not Perfection –

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