The word “failure” brings to mind images of epic, self-imposed meltdowns and the end of careers. We hear echoes of failure in our own personal lives, too. It can be difficult to keep going when your efforts seem to consistently fall short. But it’s not a failure if you learn from your mistakes. And as we all know, life is a series of learning experiences that help us grow as people and professionals. Here are five ways to stay motivated in the face of failure:
1. Define your objectives.
When you set goals, you have to ask yourself, “What is my goal?” Not only do you need to answer that question, but you also need to ask yourself, “Why?” If you ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, then you can make progress towards your goal while ignoring the why of the other goals.
2. Build in feedback.
With a new job or career opportunity comes the inevitable process of feedback. It doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable or confrontational experience. In fact, doing so can actually be harmful. The key is to have open channels of communication with your team and clients that you can use to receive constructive feedback. Feedback can be formal or informal. You can receive it verbally or in writing, you can also seek feedback on your skills or your performance, and most importantly when receiving feedback you will receive praise or constructive criticism.
3. Plan for the unexpected.
If you’ve been in the game for a while, you’re likely used to planning for the unexpected. This may include unforeseen expenses, holidays, and demands on your time. But what happens when those things don’t happen? Or when they do, but you weren’t prepared for it? Planning for the unexpected starts with setting realistic expectations for yourself. You don’t have to be an accountant to know that you can’t meticulously plan for every possible scenario. But you can plan for the things that you can control, and that’s what this is all about: staying motivated in the face of failure.
4. Commit to tasks that interest you.
Sometimes we get so consumed by what we want that we lose sight of what interests us. If your goal is to get your first job, you might spend your day going from meeting to meeting without giving any attention to your favorite topics or interests.
5. Most importantly to stay motivated is to celebrate those small victories.
When we’re afraid to fail, we tend to celebrate success. But celebrating small victories will give you a chance to see how your performance compared to your targets, and it can help you recognize your best efforts. On the other hand, failing quickly and publicly can also be a signal that you’re not ready for something serious. If you make it through an interview, praise yourself for your professionalism and your ability to make a good first impression. If you get your first paid gig, celebrate with your friends and family—even if it’s only for ten minutes. And don’t let your failures get you down. They’re a part of the learning experience, and each one is a stepping stone to success.
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