Knowing how to fail is the single most important tactic to accomplishing any goal.
Many of us are under the impression that failing keeps us from reaching our dreams.
What’s crazy, is it’s overwhelmingly the opposite.
The more we fail, the more we gain opportunities for growth.
Also, the more quickly these failures happen, the faster you’ll reach that end result you desire.
For years, I always made failure mean something negative about me.
If I didn’t meet a certain expectation, I assumed it meant I wasn’t capable.
For a long time, this held me back from my true potential in so many areas of life.
Is the idea of failure holding you back?
There’s an easy way to tell.
If the concept of failing gives you feelings of fear in any way, shape, or form, it’s extremely likely it’s holding you back from your true potential.
Not to worry!
In this article, we’ll cover the 5 step framework we can use to begin failing in a way that sets us up to achieve our goals.
Here are the steps you’ll need to learn how to fail — the right way:
Step 1: Understand Our Fear Of Failure
Step 2: Establish a Growth Mindset
Step 3: Redefine Failure
Step 4: Productively Fail
Step 5: Embrace Failure
If you successfully complete these steps, you’ll learn to finally start failing in a way that sets you up to achieve your goals.
Now, let’s cover each step so you fully understand the details of each one.
In order to work through failure, you’re going to have to understand where the fear of failure comes from.
Here’s the truth: You don’t fear failure, you fear the feeling you get from failure.
Failure is neutral.
You don’t have to make failure mean anything negative.
It’s when you make the failure mean something negative about you that you give it the power to consume you.
The amazing news is this is 100% under your control.
You can control your feelings towards failure by first controlling your thoughts.
To do this, you can use a self-coaching model that looks like this:
With this model, we can learn to control our feelings towards failure.
First, we need to examine how we currently feel about failure.
For example, you might notice when you think about failure, you have feelings of low self-confidence.
These feelings of low self-confidence would stem from a thought in your brain about failure.
So, the thought could be, “When I fail it means I’m not capable of achieving my goals.”
Once you understand the negative thoughts occurring inside your brain, you can more easily work to change them.
So from here, you would practice manifesting positive thoughts instead. Such as, “The more I fail the closer I am to reaching my end goal.”
This would likely give you feelings of high self-confidence instead.
I encourage you to observe your feelings towards failure, brainstorm what thoughts cause those feelings, and then rework your thoughts.
By learning to create your thoughts you’re able to control your feelings, which in turn, allow you to control the results in your life.
One reason why we fear failure is that we are operating under a fixed mindset.
When we have a fixed mindset, we tend to have feelings of inadequacy as we are constantly feeling the need to prove ourselves to others.
With this mindset, we see failure as a weakness that should never be acceptable.
What we need to establish is a growth mindset.
When we have a growth mindset, we believe that skills can be developed through consistent effort and dedication.
With this mindset, we see failure as a way to improve ourselves and to better our skill sets over time.
A fixed mindset is not only debilitating but is exactly why many people give up on their dreams.
They believe every successful person is a special unicorn and that there’s no chance in hell for them to succeed.
Establish a growth mindset instead, where you believe there’s enough growth potential for everyone in the world, including yourself.
The word ‘failure’ has a very negative connotation.
The root of the word stems from the Old French ‘falir’ which means “to be lacking; not succeed.”
Another common definition states failure as “a lack of success.”
It’s no wonder we make failure personal.
Needless to say, I despise these definitions.
These definitions imply that to fail means we lack the skills necessary to succeed or that we simply won’t succeed if we fail.
It makes failure mean something inherently negative.
Another definition I found states failure as, “the omission of expected or required action.”
I would consider this a more accurate definition.
It doesn’t imply that we’re “lacking” or that we are unsuccessful, but that we simply didn’t take the actions necessary to produce the results we wanted.
It’s clear cut and implies nothing personal.
Which is the exact way failure should be portrayed.
Our failures are really the roadmap to our successes.
Without them, we would have no idea which direction to take next.
Every failure is a breadcrumb leading us to our end goal.
It’s like getting directions from our smartphones. Once we start going in the wrong direction, it lets us know to “redirect” and to take a different path. This is what failure should mean to you.
Failure should never be seen as a setback.
It should always be defined as an opportunity for growth.
There are two types of failures we need to consider: Self-Sabotaging Failure and Productive Failure.
Self-sabotaging failure is when you repeat the same mistakes over and over and expect the results in your life to change.
You’re not actively problem-solving or figuring out what you need to do differently.
Needless to say, this never produces the results you want.
You can also fail by self-sabotage by not showing up for your goals altogether.
You’ll feel that it is better to fail on your own terms than to fail after actually putting in the effort.
Self-sabotaging failure is a subconscious way to avoid feelings of failure.
You fear that you’ll put in the effort and still fail anyway.
So, you figure, why bother?
I am all too aware of this type of failure.
Constantly, I’d be thinking that the pain of failure was too much to bear.
So, I’d avoid the situation altogether by not even showing up. Or by playing the victim and doing the same actions over and over. Which, obviously, never resulted in any change.
Don’t get caught in this vicious circle.
Trust me, it’s easier to get sucked into this mindset than you think.
The way to avoid this is to learn to fail productively.
Productive failure means you view your failures with the same fascination you would a science experiment.
You don’t fear failure, so you’re constantly trying different things to see what works.
You’re constantly taking action and putting yourself out there.
Every setback is another step to cracking the code of achieving your goal.
You’re failing until you get it right.
This alone will drastically change your life.
Anyone who’s ever achieved success in this world, did so because they didn’t fear failure, they embraced it.
It’s only through a series of failures that you reach your end goal.
When you can learn to fail hard and fail fast, your entire life will change.
To help you better embrace failure, I encourage you to keep a journal of all your failures for a month.
After the month, I want you to take a look back at the failures and appreciate them.
You should view these failures as badges of honor as they’re the waypoints to your success.
It’s like one of my all-time favorite quotes from Robert T. Kiyosaki states:
“Every time you quit, someone else gets your prize. Every time you make a mistake, you get closer to yours.”
So, embrace failure.
Learn to fail over and over, until you get the results you desire.
If you follow these 5 steps, you’ll have a healthier relationship with failure in no time.
Which means you’ll have further control over your happiness and your dreams.
When you take the time to examine how you feel about failure, you can observe how much the fear of failure has been holding you back.
While failure has negative connotations, nothing about it has to make your life negative.
Failure means nothing about you.
While you’re over here fearing the prospect of failure, your competition is failing over and over. A year from now they might already have what you originally wanted.
So, think of failures as stepping stones.
View them as necessary (and critical) to becoming the best version of yourself.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.