Many dream, but few dream and fulfill.
The fear of failure hinders us moving from dreaming to doing. We’re afraid of what will happen when our dreams are exposed to the sunlight and don’t look the way they did in our minds. So we keep them locked inside our heads, afraid of failure but also not allowing ourselves to succeed.
Very few (if any) people succeed at anything on their first attempt. Babies fall the first few times they try to walk. People learning a new language mangle their words the first few times they try to pronounce foreign syllables. Most people don’t end up marrying the person they had their first relationship with. Most small businesses fold leaving the entrepreneur to make the tough choice – try something else or quit entirely.
In the three weeks that have elapsed since this year began, I have already collected several rejections – story ideas that I thought would get picked up, were returned with an “I’m sorry” letter. Suggestions that I thought would be instantly accepted, got turned down with not even a “try again next time.” I’ve even had a Facebook friend request declined. That’s when you know you’ve been rejected.
But you know what, I’m not quitting.
It’s true that inaction cannot fail but it’s also true that it cannot succeed – if you’re not trying, you’re not failing but you’re no closer to achieving your goals either. I’ve decided that I’ll take rejection and failure any day.
Yesterday, a story I pitched to a magazine got rejected. But today, one of my articles was accepted for another online publication. That’s progress in my book.
Things aren’t moving as fast as I want them to but my word this year is progress – even if I’m not moving ahead in leaps and bounds, as long as I am going forward, I’ll get there. So today, I am happy for the small step and the opportunity to move even further tomorrow.
Most people don’t succeed the first time they try something new but every failure is moving you one step closer to a win.
How can you move forward after failure? After a failed book deal, after your business goes belly-up, after a failed relationship or after you lost your job, how do you keep going?
- Forgive yourself – Allow yourself time and space to recover from the loss. This doesn’t mean wallowing in self-pity for a year. Maybe you just need a moment to cry so you can put it behind you and get ready to try again.
- Analyze the failure – What did you do wrong? Was there something you could have done differently to prevent the failure? Were there warning signs you should have paid attention to?
- Embrace the lesson – Take a moment to write down what you learned from the experience.
- Try again – Make a detailed plan of action for how to move forward. Work on a plan for a new business. Make a list of all the publishers you will send your manuscript to now. Write down the companies you will send your resume to. And follow the plans up with action.
If I’m being honest, the hardest step for me is the first one. It’s tempting to keep wallowing, to blame everyone but myself, to hide in my room and lick my wounds and sing the “Woe is me” song. But moving on to step 2 is the hardest and most rewarding. The moment you start asking yourself what you could have done differently, you are creating a connection that moves from What could I have done differently? to What will I do differently the next time? Once you’ve started asking yourself that question, you’re ready to try again.
All the best with your next attempt. Whatever happens, never give up!