How To Stop Feeling Like A Failure
I have to admit ever since becoming a mom, I’ve let me writing slide as I try to get a handle on my new life as a parent.
And I feel like a complete failure as a writer.
Even though I’m happy with everything else in my life at this very moment, the feeling of failing at writing eats away at me. And I’m certain that once I feel like I’m making progress as a writer, I will focus on the negative of something else in my life.
Is it possible to not ever feel like a failure?
Is it in our nature to focus on the bad and minimize the good in our life?
Why is it that even if we see success in one part of our life, there is always another to work on?
Our weight, relationships, careers, dreams of being a writer/artist/musician are always up for scrutiny in one way or another and we are usually the ones doing the criticizing.
Can we ever just be happy with what we have accomplished without feeling like we’re failing?
I like to think so.
Measure backwards, not forwards
I first heard this notion of measuring backwards, not forwards from James Clear. The idea that rather than measuring our progress against where we want to be, we should measure our progress against were we were.
This idea is one of the reasons why I’ve kept going regardless of how far out of reach my dreams seem to be because no matter how much we accomplish in life, it can feel like we’re always falling behind and it’s because we’re constantly looking towards the future rather than looking back at the past.
When we compare our current state to our future dream state, it seems like our dream is far out of reach and no progress has been made . However, if we measure backwards, from where we started, we can see how far we’ve come along.
It’s no surprise we feel like failures when it seems like our goals are still out of reach regardless of the effort we’ve put in. The day to day work can be a grind in the best of times but feeling like a total loser while doing the work can dwindle our self-esteem and confidence and make us believe there’s no purpose in what we’re doing.
And we end up quitting.
Measuring backwards, ie. measuring our progress based on the day, week, or month before gives us a better idea of our growth.
If we can see how much we’ve grown since we started, it doesn’t seem like we’ve failed at anything. Sure, maybe we haven’t achieved our goals yet but we know we’re on our way.
Plan to fall off the wagon and learn to forgive yourself quickly
It’s going to happen.
We’re going to fall off the wagon at some point.
We’re going eat something that’s not on our diet plan.
Maybe we miss a day of writing.
We didn’t make it to the gym or we didn’t go for our run.
And when that day comes, we need to learn to forgive ourselves and just get right back on track. The ones who don’t forgive themselves tend to feel like failures and give up.
When we misstep or break our chain, it can feel like we need to start from the beginning but that’s rarely the case.
If I didn’t write for one day, I still would’ve written more articles now than I did a year ago.
If I had a massive slice of cheesecake, does that mean my 20 days of healthy eating is wiped clean?
We’re human and we have our weaknesses. The important thing is that we don’t make these missteps a regular habit and that we forgive ourselves quickly when they do happen and get back on track.
Stop with the comparison game
The fastest way to feel like a complete failure is to compare ourselves to someone who’s more “successful”.
First time authors compare themselves to authors like Elizabeth Gilbert or Ernest Hemingway.
Artists compare themselves to Picasso.
Folks who write here compare their following and claps with other Medium writers.
And what good does all that comparing do? The only thing it’s good for is getting us on the fast track to Loserville.
There is so much competition out there. Hundreds and thousands competing for the same thing in any field. Do we really want to spend our time comparing ourselves to total strangers?
We all want to “win” so badly and rather than understanding the process that person went through to get to where they are, we instead focus on their results.
The only productive and fastest way to achieve the success we’re striving for is to focus on ourselves.
Don’t be afraid to be a nobody
I recently read an article by Shaunta Grimes and it literally changed my outlook on living a creative life.
When we embark on our journey, be it a new relationship, a new diet, something artistic, or a new business venture, we want to succeed. Though many of us may expect to fail at some point, we all hope that we don’t and, often times, we don’t prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally when we do fail.
We expect that at some point, we’ll receive the accolades that must come with all our hard work.
But the truth is that time may never come.
And we need to have the courage to be a nobody.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m brave enough yet. To write and write and know that nobody cares about my work is a tough pill to swallow.
But at the end of the day, isn’t that what failure is? Depending on others to praise my work? And if they don’t, then what? Should I just up and quit something I love?
To me, that would be my biggest failure and regret.