Failure? Or Unfinished Success? You Tell Me...
Learn how to act intentionally in service of your goals even in the moments when you lose feelings of intense passion and excitement about them.
Failure? Or unfinished success? What’s your perspective?
Often, we tend to “dumb down” our perspectives to a basic scale of right/wrong and good/bad. Viewing your life through this kind of lens creates a lot of stress, guilt, and anxiety in areas that are simply works in progress towards the bigger picture of your goals. Labeling something as a failure when it is—in reality—just a valuable learning and growing experience, causes you to have a negative pattern of relating to your goals.
Ask yourself this question: “What is this impact on your life from making decisions based on momentary feelings?”
In other words, how has your life been affected by decision-making that happens when you experience lows of discouragement, lack of motivation, and fear of the effort required to succeed? How do you act in the moments when you aren’t feeling the intense highs of passion and excitement about your goals?
Needing to feel energetic, motivated, and excited in order to take action towards your goals with conviction can be extremely detrimental when it comes to getting results.
The question is, how do you get yourself to ACT with clarity and purpose towards your goals even when you feel tired, scared, incapable, and tempted to quit? I spent many years battling through this dilemma, and it wasn’t until I learned the art of shifting my relationship to my goals that I had a genuine, life-changing BREAKTHROUGH, and I want to share that story with you:
Two years ago, I committed to studying 200 hours for an exam that I wanted to take to further my career. However, at the time I was juggling two demanding jobs, a new relationship, and my normal responsibilities, and I quickly realized that I had no idea where I would fit in a minimum of 20 hours per week of studying time. It seemed completely impossible. I did not want to make the time, and I did not know how to make the time.
To be blunt, I ended up studying only when it was easy for me—when I felt awake, energized, excited, empowered, and ready to go. I relied on these positive feelings to motivate me, which meant that I ended up falling massively short of my quota. Because I was relying on “good” feelings to spur my actions and results, I was sealing my own fate of failure when I truly wanted to succeed.
Each day, the weight of what I was “supposed” to be doing grew heavier and heavier, and I skyrocketed into a climax of panic each time any little setback or interruption that got in the way of my schedule. I found myself spending a ton of energy fighting the urge to give up my goal and quit. Often, letting it go seemed way more attractive than figuring out a system that would lead me to success.
This mental battle brought me to a crossroads where I had 2 options:
1. Keep needing to feel awake, passionate and energized about my goal in order to take action and succeed, or
2. Intentionally choose a NEW way of relating to my goal that would cause me to act steadily in service of what I wanted—in short, not allowing changing feelings to change my commitment.
I was not ready to accept failure, so I chose option 2. This meant that I had to sit down and focus on answering a few questions. Who did I need to BE specifically in relation to my goal in order to stop shying away from what I wanted? Who did I need to be in order to act consistently towards the completion of my goal? For me, the answer was “play.” I realized the need to turn my goal into a fun competition, so I transformed the tedious process of studying into a series of mini challenges.
In shifting my focus towards “play” instead of focusing on whether or not I would get the end result “right.” I finally aligned my actions with my goal. Turning my action plan into a game allowed me to enjoy the freedom of the process without spending any energy worrying about the end result. This game involved following a nonnegotiable study schedule each week in which I rewarded myself along the way. I wrote a plan, sliced the task into mini challenges and stepping-stones, and even recruited my boyfriend as an accountability partner to further support the structure I had created.
Instead of needing to feel a certain way in order to commit to my goal, I committed to being at play! Voila, I started studying a focused, productive 20 hours every week.
And guess what? I didn’t pass. I failed that exam.
But it wasn’t a failure at all. It was one of my biggest wins because it was a major turning point in my life. I had given my all to a big goal, and I accomplished what I set out to do: studying 200 hours over the course of 3 months. The entire experience taught me an invaluable lesson about how to create real success, and I have gone on to achieve many triumphs by applying the knowledge I gained.
I learned to…
…STOP the process of attaching guilt to my goals by labeling them as something I’m “supposed” to be doing.
…STOP relating to my actions towards my goals on a scale of right/wrong and good/bad.
…START shifting who I am being in relation to my goals.
…decide WHO I WANT TO BE within my commitment to my goals and to implement this in a positive and effective way.
Yes, beating yourself up can be effective and motivating. Getting yourself to act through force, guilt, and judging yourself negatively can produce results. Nonetheless, consider how this way of being feels like a chore and brings you down. If you rely on this method, you are at a high risk of burning out and losing motivation to achieve your goals.
Consider this: Who do you want to be in relating to your goals? For me, “play” was the key to getting the task done, but this crucial way of being is often different for each separate goal. Do you need to relate to your goal as a fun, challenging game like I did? Or do you want to focus your relationship on connection? Presence in the moment? Rest? Energy? Joy? Love? Clarity?
Declare your positive way of being and relating to your goals.
Stop having your default level of commitment be your feelings.
Now go get ‘em!