Failure can be overwhelming. Even perceived failure can be.
I would know. I used to always make a big deal when I failed at something. Not always visibly, but I would always be affected in a major way. Lose all motivation, sometimes even my very will to live.
Earlier this year, I entered a Japanese speech contest for the first time ever. I had written the speech quite carefully, and practiced a fair amount. But I became insanely nervous. I was shaking. I had 3 major pauses and the overall presentation ended up being pretty terrible.
People who had nowhere near my experience ended up beating me, along with one of my seniors. I was devastated. I had been so emotionally invested in the idea of winning, that I ended up walking a 2 hour walk back to my cousin’s place in the cold. I felt numb. Worthless.
I felt like I always used to when I failed at something. I told myself: “It’s always like this.” “I always fail.” And completely disregarded the fact that I was willing, for once, to challenge myself. To try something new. The fact that I made some actual progress. And that’s perhaps the greatest mistake anyone can make.
Don’t allow failure to skew your perspective. Think of the failure as an isolated incident, unless there is a precedent of course, and any shortcomings on your part as completely fixable problems. Figure out what you could have done differently, take it to heart in your renewed efforts, and move on.
Because all that really matters, is progress. As long as you keep it up, and learn from your mistakes, you will eventually reach your goal. If you fail once now, the only thing that matters, is slowly moving forward again. The failure is completely unimportant. Think a little about why you failed perhaps, but only as a way to guide your continued efforts.
I’m nowhere near my goals. I still struggle with motivation, my moodiness and insecurity, and trying to figure out what on earth I am supposed to do with my life. But that’s okay.
Because with every word that I write, I am inching closer to the person I want to be. With every challenge, I am leaping forward. Every day I see some progress, no matter how little. And that’s enough.
I don’t need to succeed right away. That’s not how things work, and that’s okay.
In my last post, I talked about letting go of expectations, which is something I highly recommend. But it’s not always possible to completely let go of them. When you fail, and feel disappointed, just remember the progress you made. Take a few deep breaths, put on some fighting music( Eye of the Tiger comes to mind) and keep moving forward.
Forget your failures, progress is all that matters.
Think of yourself like the creek in the picture. Every roadblock becomes but a turn in your course. Eventually you will reach the luscious waters of success.
Another picture from Miyajima. I walked past what might have been the only guest house on the island, up what seemed like a private pathway, past some old private houses or rental huts, and all of a sudden this creek appeared before me. It caught my eye and I decided to take a few pictures.
If you feel lost and want something to take your mind off of things, you could always participate in my project Month To Make A Difference. Where you would focus on doing as much good as possible for 30 days, and if you want, contribute your own experiences, what you achieve and how it affects you, in text or video format.