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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Archive: A Sense of Failure — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Archive: A Sense of Failure — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 23rd, 2014

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No matter how successful we might become, there will be times when an overwhelming sense of failure comes over us and leaves us wondering just where we are headed. This can be caused by a small failure of a project, new challenges in your personal life, or monetary troubles, but it is important to realize that feelings of failure don’t necessary mean you have failed. It can simply mean that you are at a down period in your life and work — one that will pass if you continue doing your best work and striving for something better.

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Of course, in the midst of a failure attack, it is very easy to lose any sense of perspective. Every small challenge, every small slight, anything that doesn’t work the way it should simply compounds the feelings of failure and often leads to you acting out in ways you might never consider otherwise. All you can feel is the weight bearing down on you and even the smallest grain of sand added to the load seems unbearable. How do I know about these feelings? Simple, I face them from time to time, just like you — just like everyone else in the world.

The truth is, no matter how successful we might be, there will always be times when we feel we have failed. We worry about failing our families, our children, and in the end, we worry most about failing ourselves. It is perhaps there that we experience failure more deeply than anywhere else. We are always tougher on ourselves than anyone else, so we often “beat ourselves up” over real or supposed failure well out of line with the true importance. The trouble is, it is very difficult to gain deep perspective on our own issues, because they are felt so personally and so internally. Our fears can run away with us, if we let them.

When you feel that sense of failure growing, here are a few methods I use to move beyond and get back to a productive state of mind.

First, acknowledge the feelings. Ignoring them simply pushes the worries and fears from your conscious mind into the subconscious where it can do even more damage. There it will gnaw at you silently, making it hard to sleep and generally stressing you out which will in turn make it harder to work the next day and that will make you feel worse so you won’t sleep the next night – you get the picture. Sometimes feelings of failure need a small amount of wallowing to get them out in the open. That is not to say that you should wallow for days, bemoaning your lot in life and making the problem worse. You just need to acknowledge how you are feeling. Then you can move on to the next step — getting back to productivity.

I find that the best salve for feelings of failure is work. This work can be directed at a specific failure, or your general area of work, or it could be something totally unrelated. I know that accomplishing anything, no matter how mundane can often push me in the right direction. Sometimes we simply need a reminder that can we can do something well to bring us some perspective. This little glimmer of perspective will help us to realize that today’s feelings are not forever. Life is cyclical and this cycle, too, will end.

So, attack a task where you are almost sure of succeeding. After all, you don’t want to add to your already dark mindset by failing yet again. Do that task to the best of your ability and use it to block out all the negative thoughts that might be bouncing around your head. Succeed at this one small, maybe even tiny task. Feel better now? I thought so.

Feelings of failure can come to visit, but your goal is to address them and make sure they move on as quickly as possible. It can be a trying time, but if you remember that these feelings will eventually move on, you can find a way out. Acknowledge your fears, worries and recriminations and then move on. Seek out one small success and you will be back on the road to productivity in no time.

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