Let’s look at the definition of failure. Do you define failure as not accomplishing a goal/task or is it more not even attempting to accomplish that goal/task? This author advocates the latter definition: giving up. While it’s common not to complete a goal, the issue lies with the person feeling like a failure because they interpret their action/inaction as their identity. Take for instance a bodybuilder competing and not winning the overall to get their Pro card. Are they as a person a failure? Many may believe so but I respectfully disagree. That bodybuilder failed at their goal of earning their Pro card but that does not make them, as a person, a failure.
Consider the scenario of a bodybuilder who wins their category yet still feels like they are “not good enough” or downplay their success. Likewise, there are bodybuilders who don’t earn their Pro card or don’t win at the higher level Pro shows but are very successful individuals.
So how should you feel when you don’t achieve your goal? You can feel disappointed, frustrated, confused, and perhaps even angry as you have a right to your feelings but avoid taking it personally. Not achieving your goals is simply that; not achieving your goals. Nothing more; nothing less. Now you may need to re-examine your goal and make appropriate adjustments but keep in mind the purpose of your goal. Is your purpose extrinsic, i.e., to get sponsored, or intrinsic, i.e., to challenge yourself on how you can change your body over a set period of time? Intrinsic motivation is healthier because it’s about your self-growth; it’s for you. Often people fall into the trap of doing things to please others and that becomes their main source of motivation. These “people pleasers” struggle with feeling successful as it’s determined too much on what other people think. Do these types of people have any recourse? Absolutely!
There is a concept called self acceptance and forgiveness. Often, we suck at this too but it can be done. A first step is rewiring our brains about what failure means. I can’t quote where I read this but it’s very fitting: “I will have temporary defeats in my life but I will never have permanent failure.” This statement alone gives us an “out” in that we don’t have to be perfect; we don’t have to win all the time. We just need to know how to pivot our goal, our mindset, our assumptions, our definitions, our methods as we always have the power of choice. Don’t give up! If you need help, reach out to a professional. They can help you develop a healthier mindset, one that will lead you to more actionable success and feelings of accomplishment.
Difficult situations can define us, diminish us, or develop us but we ultimately decide so choose well.