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How to Overcome Failure and Use It as Motivation

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Pulling yourself together after a failed project, job, or experience of any kind can prove daunting. It may compel you to stay in bed all day re-watching The Office for the 200th time. But as great a day as that sounds, it is not the best way to handle failure. It’s daft to believe you will get through life without making mistakes. Failure doesn’t define someone; it’s how they manage that failure and pull themselves out of the dirt that truly reflects someone’s character.

Understanding What Went Wrong

Before you’re ready to move on and learn from your mistakes, you need to comprehend exactly what caused the errors. An essential part of this process is checking your ego at the door, and wholesomely analyzing the situation from an outside perspective. Be honest with yourself and leave no wiggle room for excuses.

Did you legitimately try your hardest? Did you utilize all resources at your disposal? Can you confidently tell yourself the results reflect your work ethic? These are questions that must be focused on. If you can’t comprehend the faults of your work, you’ll never be able to improve your flow.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J.K. Rowling

Get by with a little help from your friends

Despite popular belief (or personal experience), friends aren’t just around to laugh at your poor decisions. Friends can give you that perfect concoction of comedic relief and real-world advice. Most importantly, they’ll tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear.

I know a lot of folks who like to try and handle setbacks on their own. For some this might work, but it’s never a bad idea to gain outside perspectives from the people you trust. Even when you’re driving, you depend on those mirrors to check your blind spots. Let your friends be your mirrors checking the blind spots of your ambitions. A righteous filter for your coffee.

Just as you have done for them a million times; your friends will be more than happy to help when you find yourself stuck in a foul groove. Your friends will help you…if you let them.

Positively Receive Constructive Feedback

Hearing harsh criticism about your work can be unmotivating, and even frustrating. But what good is it to have a strong support network if you just get offended by the advice? Rebounding from failure isn’t just about friends cheering you up, it’s also about taking responsibility and owning up to why it failed in the first place.

Even if your project hasn’t failed, you should always be open to constructive criticism. You should constantly strive to continuously improve yourself, and sometimes that means rolling with the punches. It’s not easy and does take a bit of mental practice but trust me friend, it’s well worth it in the end.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for honest feedback. It’s too easy to get our heads wrapped around a personal endeavor that we tend to view through rose colored glasses. People will be willing to help you, but you must be willing to be helped.

Keep Dribbling the Ball

What happens when you drop a basketball? Well it bounces back up. But every time it bounces, it becomes lower and lower until it settles on the ground. But if you keep dribbling the ball, it will keep coming back. Hell, depending on how hard you bounce it, it can go even higher.

My point is you need to keep dribbling. You must keep bouncing that ball to keep it coming back, because if you don’t it’s just going to stop, and sit there doing nothing. Even if you don’t yet know how you will resolve the failed task, keep moving! Go for a run, clean your apartment, organize your workspace. Do something, anything that will be productive in any manner. The only thing worse than failure is deliberately destroying your momentum.

Keep the gears turning and continue pumping those juices into your noggin. Remember that movie with the fish? “just keep swimming just keep swimming”, yeah it’s like that.

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” – Eloise Ristad

Failure…Yeah, it’s Going to Happen

I know every motivational speaker and their mother has said this before, but you can’t be afraid to fail. It’s overstated but holds merit. If you ask me, failure doesn’t mean you failed (just stay with me for a sec), It means you were brave enough to try something new and take a leap.

Failure is unfortunately part of the process. It’s how you get better at things. You want to know what REAL failure is? Being afraid of it so much that you refuse to step out of your comfort zone. You need to accept that it WILL happen, and not even just once. Be persistent in your mindset and keep trudging through until you achieve results.

Do you think Tony Hawk came out of the womb doing kickflips and pop shuvits? Of course not. But after hundreds of knee scrapes and jammed joints, he became a master. I’m going to leave you with a quote that really speaks to me: “The master has failed more times than the apprentice has even attempted.” Stay persistent, work hard, and trust yourself.

DJ Jeffries is an entrepreneur and the founder of Led2Win.com. He is also an HR consultant, focusing on HR systems, learning and development, and diversity and inclusion. His writing has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, ThriveGlobal.com, and TalentCulture.com. You can find him on the Led2Win website and, at times, on Twitter.

Motivation

How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals

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Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.

What is Motivation?

The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.

Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).

Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.

However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals. 

How to Get Motivated

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.

This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.

4 Ways to Make Starting Easier

1. Schedule it

One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it. 

When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.

An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”

2. Measure something

It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.

3. Extrinsic motivation

This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.

4. Make it public

Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

How to Stay Motivated Long Term

When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.

These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:

1. Stay in your goldilocks zone

The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.

For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging. 

The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals

Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within. 

For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.

3. Use “chunking”

Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.

Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.

For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.

4. Be flexible

We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.

5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion

Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.

This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.

Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.

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Motivation

What Is Dark Motivation and How Can I Use It to My Advantage?

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It’s Thursday, 8 PM. I’m relaxing at home, doing normal things, and scrolling social media. Tomorrow is a big day. There are lots of things to do with moving pieces of furniture because I’m moving to another city. On top of that, a repairman is coming to my house at 8AM, so I’ll have to get up early. (more…)

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Motivation

The Killer Morning Routine to Boost Motivation

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If you’re anything like me, waking up in the morning is a hard task. Over the course of a number of years I’ve built a routine that helps wake me up and keeps me motivated. (more…)

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Motivation

Why “No Pain, No Gain” Is More Powerful Than You Realize

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Chances are you’ve heard the quote “No pain, no gain” before. Especially if you enjoy hitting the gym and getting a nice pump going on. What this means is that in order to make your muscles grow, you’ll have to shred the fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger. This progress causes physical pain because you’re tearing apart your muscles, but the reward for the pain is always worth it. (more…)

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