Let’s face it: anything worthwhile takes time.
Whether it’s starting your own business, building a successful career as a freelancer or crushing law school, the reality is that the day you plant the seed isn’t necessarily the day you’ll reap the fruit.
When you start out on your endeavor, you are pumped up and ready to go. The excitement for what’s to come and the drive to make it happen inspire you to great heights. You are living life on your own terms and it feels really good. Most people talk about their dreams and you’re one of the few who actually take action. You’ve invested in yourself and business: your website, your co-working membership at WacoWork, your content marketing strategy, so on and so forth.
Day in and day out, you put in the work. Morale is pretty high and you’re feeling unstoppable …
You don’t. You didn’t land that client. You didn’t ace that test. You didn’t meet your Q1 revenue goals. It’s a crushing blow. To make matters worse, you scroll your Facebook and Instagram feeds and see other people’s highlight reel — they’re crushing it and you’re barely keeping your shizz together.
We’ve all been there at one point or another in our lives.
I love that meme floating around social media that talks about success. It shows two different graphs, one labeled “what people think it is” (a straight line pointing upwards over time) and “what it really looks like” (one chaotic squiggly line that goes up, down, around and finally lands at the same final location). I keep this little graphic handy on the days when I’m feeling so far behind with not enough time or energy to accomplish every single thing on my neverending to-do list.
If you find yourself in the squiggly part of the success line, I want you to know that you are not alone. Living an authentic life on your own terms is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, consistency and determination. Here are three things to remember when you feel like you’re failing:
1. Remember why you started.
In his book, “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek highlights the importance of knowing WHY you’re doing something. He explains that our WHY has to be more than just financial gain because on the days when we want to give up, we need something more than a whole lotta dollar signs to keep us in the game (when everything in us wants to throw in the towel)
- If you’re a non-profit consultant and you know that your WHY is all about helping people, reflect on this calling when the tough times have cast a gloomy shadow on your life.
- If you’re a first year law student struggling with exams, remember that you went to law school in the first place to help out the environment by navigating environmental law.
- If you’re starting your own business, remember that you want autonomy over your calendar so that you can spend time with your children when you see fit.
Sure, the money is nice and it can be a huge motivator. However, I want you to consider that having a deeper WHY pulls you out of the valley of despair and sets you back on your path. It reminds you that, while it’s okay to stop and rest, you ultimately have to keep going.
2. Remember to ask for help.
I learned this lesson the hard way when my daughter was born. I was one of those eager new moms who wanted to do every single thing all by myself. That quickly ended. I realized I couldn’t run my life coaching business, be present with my child and care for myself all by myself. I burned out and it taught me that I needed to swallow my pride and ask for help.
Even something as simple as calling up a friend or business colleague and tossing around ideas can be the spark that ignites the next big thing. Hiring a virtual assistant to take over the boring administrative tasks that bog you down gives you the chance to focus on revenue generating activities and your creative endeavors. Working with a life coach or a business coach helps you analyze the areas of your life and business that need your attention and your action.
3. Remember that less may actually be more.
We live in a world that glamorizes the hustle and bustle. We brag about our sleepless nights, our addiction to Starbucks and always being on the go, go, go. If we aren’t constantly working, we feel guilty or we worry that we’ll never hit our goals.
On the days that you feel like you are failing, remember that busy work does not equal productive work. Consider that constant worry is like sitting in a rocking chair — you rock and rock and rock, but you never actually go anywhere. Remind yourself to take a step back and do a gut check — are your actions are actually helping you impact the bigger picture?
Here’s the thing about failure: it is a necessary part of success. It strengthens you, sharpens your creativity and resourcefulness and actually can bring out the best in you. The key is to reframe your failure by remembering that as long as you are learning something, you aren’t really failing. Just because you fall down does not mean you have to stay down.
Get back up. Get back on your path. Remember why you started. Ask for help. Remember that less is more. Remember that what is inside of you is greater than any failure before you.