Our world is a goal-oriented one.
Everyone from the senator smiling on camera for re-election to the Grandma baking cookies for her grandchildren has a goal.
We all want or need something. It’s hardwired in our brain to understand and use the environment around us to get what we need or want.
Most of the time this works well. You pass the test you studied so hard for, you finally get the courage to talk to that girl, or you save up the money for an amazing trip.
Achieving a goal feels awesome.
But what happens, if you’ve done all you can? You’ve studied for that test and still fail miserably, you get the courage to talk to the girl and you mumble your words, or you save up your money and get an injury so you can’t go on that once-in-a-lifetime trip?
Failure happens to us everyday. You miss a parking spot or drive past your favorite store. There are sometimes, though, when you encounter gut-wrenching failure. When you’ve done everything you possibly can to prepare and something causes you to fall on your face.
Those are the times when it seems that everything is falling apart. Failure mounts upon failure and life just seems something that is lived between failure.
What do you do then?
I’ve encountered that question many times in my life…
- …when I didn’t get into the 4-year college that everyone assumed I would get accepted to
- ….when I couldn’t find in a job in my chosen field after so many interviews and applications
- ….when I didn’t graduate from the 4-year college after battling so many obstacles
In each of those situations, it felt like it was literally the end of the world.
Each time, I was wrong. I survived.
In fact, after failing so much, I’ve gotten better at it. Failure is not my preferred method of learning, but it’s one tool that I am learning to use in my life.
In studying my own failure, I found a particular set of actions that I usually always do that gets me back on track. I’d like to share my 5-step process when everything goes wrong in your life:
5-Step Process When Everything Goes Wrong
1. Fix what you can right now.
Your first reaction may need to be reactive. Figure out what you can save. You might not have that A on your exam, but did you pass? If your business failed, can you recover some of the money for your next step in life?
2. Find the one thing you can do about a situation and commit that one thing to 30 days.
No matter what happens in life, there is always something you can do, even if it’s just getting up in the morning. When I was in a deep struggle to find any money for living expenses, a thought popped into my head: Why don’t you try doing those 100 push-ups you always thought about doing? I don’t know where the thought came from, but I started that day. I did one wall-push-up. I increased it to 100, then went to my knees, and then begun my successful journey to a push-up. That one thing helped me find other goals to pursue in life.
3. Document your success and struggles with that one thing.
Take note of your journey through failure. You will learn a lot! While I was working on my 100 push-up challenge, I encountered other issues. Some of them were resolved as I began to figure out my new reality.
4. Let your imagination fly.
Whether or not, you achieved success with your 30-day goal or not, just committing to anything is a step in the right direction. It is so easy to fall into despair and wanted to curl in a ball and do nothing. When you find that light to a better tomorrow (no matter how small), hold on to it. Take some time to daydream and see where that leads. When everything fails, you can’t do anything, but go up.
5. Connect to something bigger.
One thing that always occurs when I fail is a new understanding of my reality. I find out more about myself and the world and learn how to navigate it better.For me, that usually means a deeper connection to spirituality and faith or a stronger commitment to my health. For you, that can be any of number of things. Use that connection to something bigger than yourself. It will help when you fail again.
Failure is messy, just like everything else in life. There will never be a point in your life when you have everything figured out or just right. Life has too much change built into it. All you can offer is your best and when that’s not enough, work with your worst until you become better.