Stop Worrying about Failure

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All my life long I was afraid about the events that might happen in the future; I worried about the outcome of my actions and their negative results for my life in the future and I also questioned if I could cope with the challenges I was facing back then. Please don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a scared-cat at all and my worries never started to take control over my life or reduced my quality of living, nevertheless, negative thoughts remained inside me and often kept me awake for hours in the night; thinking about things I couldn’t control or influence anyways. I was worried about many things, from absolutely minor things such as messing up in school and flunking school (when I was 9), towards worries related to my former job, such as committing major errors with drastic consequences for me (losing my job) or the involved “customer” I was responsible for, when I was approx. 19- 20.

In general, I would say, most of the time these worries can be attributed to only one thing: my fear of failure. All my worries and fears had only this one thing in common: the fear of the possibility of failure.

I wasn’t worried about writing bad marks in school being concerned about what my teachers and friends would think about me; I didn’t fear the possible punishments for bad marks (maybe because I never was punished for bad marks, luckily); I simply was fearful of failing in school, failing classes and being separated from all my best friends. I simply did not want to be labeled as a failure, with my 9 years of age back then.

There is no need to worry about failure!

Suddenly, something became very clear to me when I was facing my darkest hour, at age of 21. There was simply no need for me to continue worrying as I had drawn for me personally a remarkable conclusion (later explained) that would change my life from that point onwards.

I accepted failure as simply that what it is: an inevitable challenge that I would have to face every once in a while in my life. Failure is an omnipresent part of my life, my past, and my present; and each failure helped me to become the man I am nowadays. Every failure was a painful experience and knocked me down in the short run, but in the long run, it helped me to do better in the future, avoid similar mistakes and honestly, most of my failures opened new possibilities and promising chances for me and allowed me to change my life and start over again. Before I forget,… the “remarkable conclusion” I talked about earlier was that I recognized that the only way I could avoid any kinds of failures entirely would be by not even trying, which might as well be comparable with not having lived at all. The attempt to avoid failure down to the ground would cause the biggest failures of all, the irreversible mistake of not having tried at all.

If I was an old man, I would always prefer to choose to laugh about the awkward mistakes and errors I committed and poeticize about the biggest failures in my life and what amazingly refreshing opportunities these brought into my life, rather than having to worry about “what could have happened”, if I would have tried. I do not want to reflect on my entire life and notice all the great opportunities I’ve missed, the glorious moments that could have taken place, the amazing things I would have experienced and the exciting chances I’ve missed, just because I was worrying about the possibility of failing. Not a single second do I want to spend with acknowledging to myself that I squandered all the big opportunities that I was given in life, as this would be more painful for me than actually having failed.

greanleaf-quote

J.G. Whittier

 

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’ ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

 There is no necessity of being afraid to fail at all, as in most cases it might just scare you off from doing it; the decision between success and failure lies often beyond your own control when you did everything possible and made above average efforts to accomplish your targeted goal. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that failure is the logical reason for being lazy and it might also occur when you’re not willing to do “whatever necessary”, so make sure to erase as many factors that could lead to a defeat.

Nonetheless, every one of us is going to fail every once in a while, so why worrying about it anyways? When looking at the biographies of extraordinarily successful people you will see that the enumerations of their failures outweigh all their accomplishments, successes and valuable contributions by far.

Here are some famous failures:

  • van Beethoven was told that he was hopeless as a composer and started losing his hearing in 1796 but continued to compose masterpieces
  • Abraham Lincoln lost his job (1832), failed in business (1833) and was defeated in eight elections (1838 – 1858)
  • Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Also, he stated that he “discovered six thousand ways that won’t work” while developing the light bulb.
  • Walt Disney was fired, as his boss found he “lacked imagination”. Later, MGM studios told him that the idea of Mickey Mouse would not work; a giant mouse would scare women.
  • John Grisham was rejected by twelve publishing houses and sixteen agents before his first novel was accepted. Grisham is nowadays a best-selling novelist.
  • Steven Spielberg was placed in a class for learning-disabled children before he dropped out of school forever
  • The Beatles were turned down by their recording company telling them that “[ . . . ] guitar music is on their way out”.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the high-school basketball team as he was “lacking skill”.

After all, only the failures these successful people had to experience and the mistakes they made in their lives allowed them to become the geniuses, inventors, and idols they have become. Without their failures, they wouldn’t have become the person they are nowadays acknowledged as. Those that never failed in life are the ones that no one remembers of today, the ones that never won as they never tried.

I don’t want to downplay how hard it feels to fail, as some failures can be exceptionally painful and make it extremely difficult for us to stand up again and continue to do what we love. There are failures that might knock you down on the ground and let everything else look pointless. Failures that are so striking that you don’t even see any hope to recover from that defeat. BUT, with every failure we are given the chance to “start from scratch”, change negative patterns, rearrange our lives towards a more successful future AND most important of all: with every failure there comes an important decision. The decision to allow a failure to defeat you once and for all, leaving you behind in a broken down state of mind for the rest of your live, or to pat yourselves on the back for not having squandered an opportunity, for having tried, for having given your best and for having gained some important experiences that could become very valuable in your future. It’s the decision between being left behind on the ground and (figuratively spoken) reaching out a hand to yourself, helping yourself to stand up again, brushing off the dust from your clothes and to continue pursuing the dream you always wanted to realize.

I failed many times in my life and luckily the vast majority of failures and defeats were so unimportant that I either forgot about them over the time or are able to laugh about it nowadays. I’ve nearly failed classes when I was 9 years old and was separated from some of my best friends as I wasn’t entitled to enroll at grammar school, which was only for the brightest and smartest pupils in a class. My class teacher told my parents that I should definitely repeat that grade to close the gaps in knowledge I had. Nevertheless, I chose to march on and so I went to secondary school, my grades improved drastically and two years later I was entitled to enroll in junior high school.

Fearlessness

Anxiety can paralyze you like a roadblock

I could go on and write down all the defeats and failures in my life I can remember of, whenever I was turned down, ignored, knocked down on the ground, got dumped, failed at work, saw my plans fail or messed up with my duties, but that would increase the word count of this post into the infinite. Nevertheless, every of these defeats helped me to accept failure as an inevitable part of my life, which took a lot of pressure from my shoulders. It helped me to see more opportunities than before, as I simply had ignored many of them because I estimated them as too risky or to be doomed to fail. It helped me to focus my attention on the things I enjoyed doing – in the one area I knew I belonged – and to strip off what I considered to be dispensable and unnecessary. If everything I did had turned out as a success, I would not have discovered what I truly loved to do and might have awoken one day in a life where I didn’t belong with a job that didn’t fulfill me.

Without my biggest failures, I wouldn’t have concerned myself so much with my personality, faced my biggest fears and discovered my strong willpower, enduring persistence, and my positivity. Every failure taught me – in its very own painful way – things that cannot be found in books, characteristics about myself that cannot even be articulated and friendships whose value lies beyond the imaginable. After the most painful defeats and setbacks I ever had to experience, I arose out of the ashes like a Phoenix, stronger, more knowledgeable and wiser than before, having gained very valuable life experiences. I became more focused on the things I loved most and knew who my true friends were – those that stood on my side, whenever I was down.

Michael Jordan

M.J. – Public Domain

 

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ~ Michael Jordan

I can accept the fact that I gave my best and failed. I can accept that all my attempts to achieve an aim were unsuccessful. But the two things I will never accept is not to have tried at all and to remain on the ground after a failure. The fear of failure becomes remarkably unimportant when it’s compared with how painful it is to think about missed opportunities.

Let’s face it; every failure is – when considered in an unemotional context – just a realization that provides us with the knowledge on what didn’t work. Again, it is your choice to make use of this information, find a workaround and/or start something completely new, OR to let yourself getting emotionally affected by that failure and allow it to defeat you, once and for all.

That’s why I stopped worrying about failure and so can you! Just wanted to let you know 😉

edison thomas a.

Thomas A. Edison

 

A journalist once asked Thomas Edison, an American inventor, for the reason he continued his (unsuccessful) attempts to make light by the use of electricity, when he had failed so many times in the past. Edison replied, “Young man, don’t you realize that I have not failed but have successfully discovered six thousand ways that won’t work!”

As you see, it’s all a matter of perspective!

I would like to end this article with a fantastic contribution by our reader Tomek, who shared the following (amazingly brilliant) poem:

 When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit.

Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.

The following articles might also be of interest to you:

Start facing your Fears (Fear=Failure)
Living life without limiting believes

Cover-Photo by iko

This article was brought to you by our Personal Development Website.


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About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!

91 Comments

  1. Superb article on what a waste it is to worry about failure. You’ve hit the nail right on the head — that was an impressive read. You’re spot on with every argument you make. Why did I never contemplate on what the fear of failing really is?? Any the less thank ya for sharing this amazing perspective about what the fear of failing really is! This part is epic:

    ”’After the most painful defeats and setbacks I ever had to experience, I arose out of the ashes like a Phoenix, stronger, more knowledgeable and wiser than before, having gained very valuable life experiences.”’

  2. I found this composition on google; you promised that it would convince me that worrying about failing in life isn’t worthwhile and boy you really kept a word; these sort of thoughts should be taught in school. – – – Love your failures – – –

    • Linda I’m glad I could hold my promise! I absolutely agree with you on “love your failures” that’s the right mindset!

      Love your failures. Whenever a door closes another one opens up.

  3. unless you actually have been in the lows of life where it starts to control you and then you have actually overcome it. your really not in any position to give advice to those who are struggling. your idea is fine in concept but to those who need to hear it most they wont get any benefit from someone who was always better off than them. they already feel like they have it the worst irrespective of how bad things really are.

    • Matt, this website is all about empowering people and if you think you can write a helpful article for those who are struggling, then by any means I invite you to share your wisdom with us by writing an article for this site – from your perspective and what you feel others need to know.

      But please refrain from making superficial assumptions about me and my life, unless you really know me. You say that I’m “really not in any position to give advice to those who are struggling”, but how do you know that I was “always better off”? How do you know that my worst failures and the time I hit rock bottom were not as significant as the ones other people experienced – especially as I chose not to share the reasons why I hit rock bottom with the public.

      Thanks for your critic anyways.

    • Matt: the following comment is a critical examination of your psychological state with regards to your comment. If you are faint of heart or feel that any sort of criticism would upset, or if you feel that you are unable to handle criticism that may lean towards negativity, or if you suffer any kind of depression or mental disorder or suspect you may, I suggest you NOT read the following. Reading will be considered at your own risk and I am NOT a doctor. I suggest regardless of my advice that you see a counsellor of some sort before reading the below.

      Matt, your post is obviously ignorant, naive and biased. Pinning down the cause of this narcissistic comment would be difficult, but I think I can shed some light on it.

      There is a lot of delusion involved in your automatic assumption that the writer is speaking theoretically and hasn’t been “as low” as you. I believe this assumption comes from a small mind that hasn’t fully grown yet, and is unaware of the existence of others as equal to his own existence.

      The whole premise of your argument is based on a bias that is obvious to any healthy adult mind. By the nature of the details of the article it’s evident this not theory as much as based on experience. The author has obviously suffered the lulls of which he speaks; it is far more likely when someone writes at this level of length and detail that they have experienced that of which they speak rather than not. Plenty of personal examples are given, and the tone of the text does not sound theoretical.

      There is absolutely nothing useful about your comment. You make naive childish assumptions that are obviously untrue based on adult common sense and then you go a step further to suggest that the author’s advice is unhelpful based on your false assumption. Do you really think this person was always better off than you and others? That statement alone shows a complete lack of understanding about humanity. We all suffer, we all have the same inner systems and workings. You are no more special than others in this regard. We’ve all dealt with difficulties. Your level of ignorance if anything suggests you have not suffered to the extent of the author; you lack understanding on his level.

      Suffering comes from failure which comes from decision making, which is the bread of life. It’s amazing how you can quickly determine one’s age–at least mental age–by looking at something they’ve written. The ignorant and naive comments come from small inexperienced minds and the valuable wise statements come from minds that are experienced.

      This is all wrapping up to your tone. Your tone comes off as trying to help others by devaluing the author’s argument all based on an obvious poor assumption on your part. The reason I am so harsh towards your comment is because I believe it is dangerously misinformative in this regard. You are basically suggesting people should ignore good advice because someone who is successful can’t help them. That’s a very damaging and irresponsible thing to say, and you should be ashamed that you are adding to confusion in the world.

      Your own position of being naive and ignorant is not static. You can change your way of thinking and break out of your delusion, but you will need help. I suggest you see a counsellor. The reason for this critique is to open your eyes to the reality of how your thoughts appear to more mature adult minds…brains that are fully grown and have a strong perception of reality. You are it there but you can be some day. In the meantime I strongly suggest you think before you type things that can be damaging to others, and I suggest that you not post anything damaging period.

      There is another type of failure, and it is complete ignorance. It is a form of never trying or not living long enough to have known that the thoughts you have as a result of your limited experiences are biased and can be blatantly incorrect in many cases, such as this one.

      Best of luck.

      • Jack, thanks for your support. I really appreciate this! I’m glad someone confirmed in a very eloquent way what I had assumed. Invasive comments such as the one written by Matt always leave an author wondering, why the commenter felt insulted instead of taking the article for what it is: an assistance through tough times. It also made me re-think my statements over and over.

        You seem to have great insight into psychology and what motivates people’s actions. The criticism is precise and up to the point. Whether Matt accepts it or not is up to him to decide. Still, your analysis offers constructive and beneficial criticism that he could greatly benefit from, if he chooses to contemplate it. It would be a great opportunity for him and I think it is urgently required.

        When I first read Matt’s comment I was immediately reminded about the sad fact that many people cannot see beyond their own nose (so to speak). Matt’s comment is intended to create separation in a time where humanity should keep together. Also, his comment was formulated in a very manipulative way. First he questions my position to help others, but on the same time is not even willing to indicate how others could be helped instead or how others could benefit from his own wisdom.

        Thank you very much for your insightful analysis as I could learn a lot from it.

  4. You are absolutely right you know. We worry so much about failure sometimes that we loose focus of the task ahead but what is there to fear? I havent heard of a seriously minded one that stays down after a fall or failure and if we dont fail, then how do we know what to aviod or draw our lessons?

    • Absolutely right Oswald, I couldn’t agree with you more! In some ways, all our failures in life serve us when ready to learn the lessons they teach.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  5. Your article was great. It made me feel positive again after the recent failure I have experienced, which has been a constant headache for me for days until I read this. Now I hope I can stay focused and do my best for the upcoming commitment I have to deal with. Anyway, keep going with your awesome work. I have read a lot of you articles and their are like a shoulder when anyone can find comfort. 🙂

    • Thanks Flor for the kind words, that’s very nice of you!
      I believe in you! And, I’m sure that you can deal with whatever crosses your path!

      Never forget that the mistakes you make today might one day become the fantastic tales you tell your grandchildren to cheer them up – and, who knows, you all might have a pretty good laugh!

  6. Hi Steve,i’m finding myself in a different problem.I have never bothered about failures when i was satisfied about my work,be it for my exams or some competitions.But it has now been a year,where each day i keep a target for myself but as i work i find my mind disturbed my thoughts(which are insignificant) and that makes me fall short of my target,is bringing down my morale terrifically and is depriving of the satisfaction.Can you suggest some solution?

    • Steve Mueller on

      Hi Vidya, well that’s difficult, because I’m not familiar with the situation you find yourself in.

      Maybe this approach helps:

      1) Gratification: try to reward yourself for achieving one of your targets. The positive result that rewarding yourself has on your motivation is amazing. So when you keep a target, try to find a possible reward (that you truly want) that you only get once that target is reached. It’s really that simple, but so effective. Through the reward, you’ll associate positive emotions with an effort, which means that you’ll recognize that a high effort is rewarded with an even more positive gratification. Basically you start linking hard work with a gratification. Hence you increase your motivation to work hard which allows you to maintain your motivation on a high level, until the objective is accomplished.

      2) Clearing your mind: As you said that you are disturbed by insignificant thoughts: try to clear your mind, for example by meditation, before you start working on reaching your goal. By calming, relaxing your mind, you’ll be able to avoid such interrupting thoughts after a while.

      Hope that helps.

  7. This is great stuff, and at a right time again.

    Recently I met a girl on a salsa party. But let`s go back in time a bit – In fact, I used to go to those parties some time ago, some times were good, other were, well failures – I felt akward, nervous, like not fully myself, and was unhappy people could see me like this… I got a minor injury and couldn`t dance wor a while, and used it as a reason to stop attending to those parties, and to not come back after a while – partly out of fear (of more social failures?).

    But in previous weeks I started to really confront my inner fears, started to do new things, met new people and open up to peolpe more and went to my first salsa party in like 10 months. And then on another one, and another – it`s been 6 or 7 in last two weeks, I lost count – and on one of those parties a met a girl… well, on salsa parties its normal to meet a lot of girls, but this one seems quite special to me, and she seems to like me, too. There are moments I feel it may be this special thing I was waiting for, a long time.
    I decided to take action. And during last days, I hear a lot of fears speaking to me in my head, planting doubt in my heart:

    Maybe she`s just polite to you?
    What if she`s just being friendly and you are very mistaken believing she likes you more than avarage persn?
    It was just a dance, it doesn`t mean anything.
    She will reject you, like others did.
    Why would she want to be with you?
    And so on…

    Tomorrow I will meet her on a salsa party, and I decided to ask her out for a coffe – and images of failure have been haunting me, making me imagine either me being nervous and doing/ saying something stupid, or simply her rejecting my offer.
    I`v been also counter attacking those thoughts, telling myself some good things, but that another story.

    What I `v been also doing, is being proud of myself – because I decided to go for it, no matter what the outcome will be. I feel like a big winner right now, because when I met an atractive, intelligent, kind, interesting, sexy and really cool girl – I didn`t hide. I said to myself: let`s do it!
    Still, I was getting nervous a lot because of it, and your article helped me realize that I wanted to control many things including myself, to make SURE I will WIN – but that control was paralizing me! And now I realized – I do not have to win allways, I can fail, I can let myself fail! Because by going for something, taking action, allowing myself to make mistakes, I am already winning 🙂

    Congratulations to myself. Good job! 🙂
    Thanks for your article, two thumbs up 🙂

    • Hi Tomek, wow this was a fantastic comment and a great contribution to the article! It’s fantastic how you decided to go for it and for that I take my hat off to you.
      As you see, perspective is everything! And with many decisions in life it’s a 50/50 chance of winning or losing. But I rather lose than not trying at all and I see you feel the same!

      Just imagine the girl you met was a very special one and she liked you too but you never had the courage to ask her out! You would go berserk – from the regret of not having asked her out – in a couple of years.

      I keep my fingers crossed for you! Everything will go fine, either way.

  8. Hi Steve, your reply was first thing that made mi smile that day, after she said “no”. I`m simplyfying, as she said “I don`t thing it`s the best idea” and than somem ore, but bottom line I have no date. There was nothing nice, happy and I felt like no winner that evening… and for some moments I felt really defeated, sad and disappointed. I`m actually still a bit sad about it.

    But even thought it felt bad, I imagine it would be worse to think I might had a chance, but wouldn`t even try. I did faced some inner demons during that experience, learnded something about myself. Still, the emotional part of that was hard, I felt like I have faced all my past rejections with this one, stacked, and hurting.

    Fortunately, I have a choice here, and I choose not to pity myself, but to learn from it.
    Sometimes when I`m down, and it`s hard to oppose wave of self pity, I remember this little life saver. I got it memorized, and learning it was time very well spend:

    Don`t Quit

    When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
    When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
    When the funds are low, and the debts are high
    And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
    When care is pressing you down a bit-
    Rest if you must, but do not quit.

    Success is failure turned inside out;
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
    And you can never tell how close you are
    It may be near when it seems so far;
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
    It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.
    ~Author Unknown

    • Hi Tomek, fantastic poem! I like it so much that I included it at the end of the article as a powerful way of wrapping the article up, if you don’t mind! Thanks for the contribution! It’s sad that she said no, but keep your eyes open and try to discover what kind of new windows were opened by that door closing. It often takes a lot of time, but I assure you, there will be the day when you fully understand what new opportunities stepped into your life because of this happening.

  9. I don`t mind, I love it – it`s worth sharing :).
    I`m very glad I did what I did, I now believe more is possible, and I want and can do more new things, have more courage. I tried, failed, and survived it – I can do it again. But now, hills ahead look a little smaller.

  10. Very interesting topic, indeed. It’s amazing how you managed to eliminate the fear about failing within me. For this I cannot thank you enough!

  11. Thank you so much for your article. I am really in very bad time……:) things are not working on the way.. Fail and failure all around.. Tried almost all thing, nothing works.
    But now still wants to try more harder..
    Many thanks for article.

    • Hi Bhuvan, you’re welcome! Good that the article could at least give you some new hope. No matter what you’re going through at the moment, never lose hope, there will be better times!

  12. Steve Mueller on

    I received the following message by a reader of this blog and didn’t want to withheld it from you. I hope you enjoy it, as these are some very wise words:

    “Your article saved me from my failure and has given me strength to go forward. To accept a failure is indeed hard, but to shrink and hide oneself away in disappointment is the actual failure.
    To accept and acknowledge that failures , however painful are part of life, is to accept that we are human. To pick oneself up after being damaged takes courage. So take a tip from one suffering right now, look for the courage within yourself to start afresh. Pick yourself up and look to start a new adventure. If I can do it, so can u.”

  13. (Private part of the comment removed – the Author)

    Your article was very refreshing and I appreciate it. Reinforcing that many failures are a form of success is definitely beneficial and true. Keep up the good writing.

  14. Dear Steve, first of all i’d like to thank you for all the amazing articles, they have all helped me out at one point in my life. I absolutely agree with you that one should accept and embrace his failures. I made a life-altering mistake of going into business although i always dreamed of being a doctor. I grappled with that for at least two years, i was depressed and couldnt believe what i had gotten myself into ( the fear of failure stopped me from trying altogether). Now 4 years later I have accepted that failure but I feel like I’m about to make the same mistake. I have to take an exam for grad school in about one month and although i have tried very hard for the last two months(thanks to your other article) i cant help but feel overwhelmed and the stress is starting to take a toll on me. I often find myself wondering “what if i failed agian” and i play out all the things that could wrong from there in my head. And at this stage i know i shouldnt think about what ifs and just keep going. But I just cant stop the scenarios of what it would be like if i failed running rampant in my head.

    • Hi Nikki, don’t worry. You never fail, it’s just life that’s directing you into experiences that you need to make at that moment. For instance, let’s say you became a doctor. Maybe you would have felt burned out, helpless or even disappointed about the profession after some years. Maybe it’s life that is directing you into paths that are better suited for you, your being, etc. Don’t let the fear paralyze you! Meet a decision and try to see what you can learn from the experience.

      • Thanks alot Steve. I’ll try and be more optimistic and enjoy the ride. Hopefully I’ll get into grad school and if i dont i will keep trying. Thanks for all the other articles too.

  15. Dear Mr.Steve
    It was so nice reading your article…..It made me realize the mistakes which have happened on my part. all these times..
    My favorite part of the article was the “the 2 things I’ll refuse to accept.. …..” mainly I because that is mostly where I went wrong…
    I would like to share something about my life a bit and would like to have your opinion about it…….it is something i am truly ashamed.of…. :_(
    So..here goes:
    I am preparing for my post grad entrance exams since 2 yrs now..when I gave the exams last time ,Ii had a period of approx 4 months to prepare..having just finished my internship I could have given ample time to study but the sudden free time after so many years got to me and in no time I was spending a lot of time watching telly or surfing the internet or anything, except studying… 2 months passed by , by the time I got back in gear…and inevitably I could not score a good rank …..and that disheartened me completely because I had thought that since I was good in studies even the 2 month study would suffice..(now I realize that either i thought too much about my knowledge and stuff and maybe I was trying to turn a blind eye to my incomplete preparations…as they say..Pride goes before a fall..)
    But instead of refusing to give up , I , as u say “did not give myself a hand, pick myself up and walk again”…instead I tumbled down into a state of despair and hopelessness..to such levels that I have finally screwed up another year…….
    it all seems such a dump now…
    I did exactly what you say not to do…I remained on the ground and have ended up not trying at all… I would worry all the time thinking what if I failed in achieving my goal this time…how unhappy mother would be and what a gala time my peer group will have seeing me fail again while they advanced in their lives….and it really sapped my energy leaving very little for the actual task…but everything feels so pointless now…especially since becoming a surgeon has always been my dream ever since I can remember…i was not doing anything i didnt want to do..and yet..
    When I look back, I realize I have lost myself somewhere.,gave up on myself…
    Reading your article has put an exact finger over my problem…
    I want to be strong enough this time to pick myself up …..
    Thank you soo much…
    I loved the poem too…and currently its my desktop wallpaper.. 🙂
    Yours,
    with gratitude,
    Ana.

    • Hello Ana,

      First of all, don’t worry! You are in an uncomfortable situation at the moment, but you can free yourself from that, you can make it. When I read your comment I saw that you have identified the problem to a great extent. This is great, because knowing what the problem is bring you two steps forward towards solving it. Most people will search for external courses to their problems, instead of realizing that they might themselves cause their problems. So this is already great and we can build up on this.

      When I read your comment I noticed two problems that stroke my eye. The first one was that you said that you had just finished an internship which was quite work intensive. After the internship was finished you returned home and all of a sudden you were confronted with a situation where you have nothing to do. I know the situation just too well, and it’s always the same. I have concluded for myself that it is simply a balancing of the body and the mind. You worked hard and so in return body and mind need an escape from this.

      And this is exactly the point where the trouble starts, because we take a little break but instead of knowing when to end this break, we become so used to resting that a habit develops. And this exactly happened in your case. You have developed a habit of resting, which you will have to break free from. In order to break free from this habit you will have to show a lot of willpower in the initial stages. After you have maintained this new habit of not being lazy anymore for a certain period of time, in most cases 30 days, the old negative habit is broken. So you can break free from it and you can make it, but you will have to stick to it. And once you have broken free from it, remember to allow yourself every once in a while some rest and some breaks so that this does not happen again.

      Now let’s move to the second problem you describe, shall we? You say that you are pretty depressed because you have missed great opportunities, and lost one whole year. Now from a analytical standpoint this might be correct. But maybe you could see this period of time from another perspective. Because I believe that this time was certainly not without a purpose for you in your life and in your situation. What this purpose was I don’t know, but what I know is that you needed it for some reason.

      Okay, now the third issue. You say that you are heavily distracted. The problem with distractions is this, they decrease your motivation to achieve something in life. They distract you and take your hunger for success. So it is therefore so important to identify these negative distractions and to get rid of them as best as you can. These kinds of distractions might be very pleasurable, but they create a gap between you and your goals that you want to achieve. Just as you can see in your own life, these distractions have hindered you from accomplishing what you wanted to accomplish. So get rid of them and bring your life back to normal.

      As you say that you are a student I would like to recommend to you my article called How to Get Motivated for Studying, which might be very beneficial in your situation as well.

  16. Dear Mr.Steve,
    I am so glad to hear from you so quickly.. 🙂
    Thank you soo much… 😀
    I completely agree with what you have said..especially about the limiting the breaks….it really spiraled out of control in no time…and it had been almost 7-8 years since I had nothing to do at all…I guess if I had taken small breaks regularly I could have prevented or at least limited my burnout…
    I am going to try and follow this as much as possible…
    and I will certainly go through the article you have suggested asap..
    Your help really means a lot to me and i can never thank you enough for this.
    Yours
    eternally grateful,
    Ana.

  17. Steve sometimes when u think of starting from scratch theres a tinch of fear or negative attitude inside u which is very difficult to overcome….
    How to gain control over that?
    I suppose…i have never succeded when i started all through the scratch and not being able to find reasons to such a failure…wht do you thnk i should in such a situation…i have been also a victim of depression becoz of this!!

  18. Zolelwa (South Africa) on

    Thank you for this article. Just when I was feeling down all my friends I started University with in 2011 are graduating month end. I just wrote a test that will count for my final exams,I did not do well. I failed in my 2nd yr a subject, then a 3rd yr subject again last year. I feel like a failure, I have failed in primary and in High school. When was trying to regain confidence and went to University @ age 21 after I failed my last grade in Highschool. I stayed for 3 yrs because I had no apetite to further my studies. Now I was exited that next year that I will finaly graduate, now I fail a major test I just lost hope and fear of failur ovewhelemed. I am worried about how I will fail,and be excluded from Varsity next yr,then come back after a year, I will not get a job,never own my dream home or car. I hate this fear of failure coz it catches you when you least expected. I am always encouraging people but it gets dificult for me,but I will getup dust myself and try again. Even though my trying harder & alll my best seems to fail me Ill endure and continue with the strength I have.

  19. Hi, Steve Mueller, I loved your websites. I recently felt tired and torn about failures and feel like I need motivation and are impressed by how your articles brought back my life 🙂 I enjoyed this article and wondered if you have any other article that could help me face my delaying habit, which is like postponing whatever that should be done and feeling mood-less about certain task. I’d like to thank you again for sharing this article

  20. hi Steve,
    i lost my career in very badly way i will trying in many times to clear my MBA exam but i can’t and i m feeling very guilty please steve suggest me how can i build my career my parents suggest me you should try to competitive exam but i have lost my confidence my dad was give me chance for fulfill my dreams but i was failed what should i do how can i make my identity can you suggest me please i need your help i can’t focus in my study but i want to make my career please help me i want job give me some direction how can i focus in my study.

    • Steve Mueller on

      Set a proper goal, a goal that truly motivates you (or even better have a really good vision). Having your own goal is by far more effective than just trying to persecute the goals that other people expect from you. The second thing you can do is to train your mind so that you can focus more easily.

  21. Wow that is really an inspiring story. I just graduated high school and am going to community college and I was so scared about what I am going to do with my life but after reading this and some other stuff online I have no reason to worry at all. Life is full can have its downs but it is mostly full of positives. I don’t know why I worry so much when I know everything is going to be fine. Thank you.

  22. Hello Steve i really loves your article. I want a job in USA for that i am studying MBA. I join a job in company but i resign from that job afterwards. and after that k feel depressed and asking myself why you resigned from that job? That was your first job. i falied once at my first job. i resigned from job because i am doing MBA. i made the worst mistake of my life. i feel like now i will never suceed in my life because i resigned from my first job so early. i failed. i get motivation from your article. I learned a valuable experience from my mistake or failure. I will never do that mistake again. i will get up remove dust from my clothes and try again. i will Never Give Up in my life. “Abraham Lincoln lost his job (1832), failed in business (1833) and was defeated in eight elections (1838 – 1858)” Abraham Lincoln motivates Saurav Kumar. I want to do greatest thing in this world just like my hero Abraham Lincoln. I want to do good things like Abraham Lincoln so the world can remember me forever Thanks for your article. Love you my Brother. Saurav Kumar is so thankful to you for this article. You are like my Big Brother.

    • I’m glad the article has helped you. Thank you very much for the kind words.

      I was not even aware that Abraham Lincoln was defeated that often. He’s also a great role model if he has never given up.

  23. Thanks Steve for relpying to me. Yes Abraham Lincoln is a great role and he was a great president of USA. I read your other articles too and i liked all of them. They truly motivates me. I will follow and read your blogs forever. I would be very happy if you can send me a friend request on facebook. This is my facebook link https://www.facebook.com/SauravKumarCena and i want to remain your friend forever because in frienship quality matters not quantity. I want to learn some best lessons of life from you. My dream is to come USA and do good things for the people. I really needs your help in my life. I am glad if you become my fruend forever. Thanks brother. My name is Saurav Kumar and i am 20 years old. I believe we have only one life so put your efforts and do something good so you can make a name in this universe. Steve you are a great person and i want to thank you again and again.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words Saurav, I really appreciate that. I am glad to have found a new friend in you.

      But can we connect on Google plus? My profile link is plus.google.com

      I’m delighted to hear that you are dreaming about doing good things to other people. We need more of your kind.

  24. Thanks Steve for becoming my best friend. I added you on google plus in my friends and family cirlcle. You can also add me in your circles here is my google plus link https://plus.google.com/app/basic/113928556664388952415/about

    i am now following your articles on google + and i love them. you can also add me on twitter and i will you back. here is my twitter link https://www.twitter.com/TheSauravKumar or @TheSauravKumar

    Steve Thank you very much for motivating me this much. I also love photography like you. I want to capture the beautiful nature and beautiful animals in my camera so when i get old i will see my photos and smile.

    Steve my brother please remain in touch with me forever. I promise you that one day i will meet you and we both will smile together. I really need you in my life for motivating me forever. I am waiting for your other articles. you articles are the boggest hope for my life. and yes i will do good things for other people because that gives me happiness. I really appreciate your help. We will remain friends forever. You will always live in my heart. I love nature and animals. I l love my mother earth. Thanks you brother again and again and again and again.

  25. Thanks for writing this article, it helps me to see that am not alone dealing with fear of failure. I failed a lot in my life, I reached a point where I don’t want to try any thing for the fear of failing again and again.but now I feel am going to pick up my pieces and try again. thanks a lot.

    • You’re very welcome. I’m glad I could help. I think we all worry and we all have fear of failure. For this reason, it’s so important to get the right attitude towards failure. If we see it as an opportunity the fear will decrease.

  26. I totally agree with this article, failure should not stop you in being successful, Trials will really come your way but we should learn from it as well. You can see more about these topics through this link.

  27. Whatever you have written is absolutely correct.
    But I want to share my story & I want you to suggest me what should I do because I am utterly confused, depressed right now.
    I was a below average student in college and I completed by engineering bachelors degree taking more time than intended, I have not been a very positive, confident person and I fear failure very much.
    I tried my luck in 2 jobs in Bangalore (India) but left it after few months because it was taking toll on me.During my first job in a small company, there was no body to help me or guide me as I was a fresher and the boss used to scold me by the end of every week regarding ongoing project and I used to have no answers.

    My family gives me full support and asks me to do whatever makes me happy, but I really dont know which path to go or the procedure of how to do it or succeed.
    The inability to learn or adapt is making me more irritated, frustrated. I try my level best but unable to deliever and this vicious cycle has been going since last many years.
    Even if I join a coaching institute regarding any programming language like C, C++, nobody will spoonfeed me (not as if I want to be spoonfed) but the same students in the coaching classes grasp quickly and get results too. And I continue to think myself as a fool and it has been the case since 2013 and my family has spent lots of money on coaching classes resulting to nothing.
    The competition is too much here in India and I feel completely hopeless because I think even if I get a job I wont be able to cope up with daily challenges in office because they want you to finish everything in a given time period and I feel if you are stuck then you have to get out of yourself, which I am not able to.
    It seems like being given onions and told to make French fries.
    My stream is Electronics and Instrumentation and I tried/visited many companies only to be rejected.
    I am 26 and I also avoid meeting/ contacting my old friends of school/college because they all are progressing in life and I feel a lot of shame to tell about my condition whereas they prosper/succeed. So I live alone taking a room in Bangalore living inside 4 walls just getting out to have food(my parents live in a different state).
    I have always tried to learn or adapt but I havent been successful so I have always been given the blame by boss or colleagues (despite my repeated requests to help me).
    During college days, I paid a visit to psychiatrist also regarding my failures,frustrations, negative thinking etc. He simply told think positive, laugh, make new friends, exercise regularly all will be good.
    Everybody says that only I can have the key to solve all these problems. But I honestly dont know how to do it. When I get unsuccessful I am very hard on myself and I abuse/demean myself a lot because there has not been any progress in my life since last 8 years. It took myself many attempts to pass lot of subjects, and that too by borderline margin. Many of my friends same as my condition at that time are working successfully now and are happy.
    But I think that what wrong have I committed that I am in such a state now

    So, what should I do??

    How I should I do?

    How to remove this negative thinking from inside my head?? just like a tumor is taken out of the body..

    P.S.- I apologize for the long post. I hope you understand.

    • Thanks for describing your situation in great detail, this helps me to better understand where the problem lies. I believe there is not a single problem, but a combination of many different issues, which makes it of course more difficult to solve the situation.

      First of all, I believe it is very natural for a young person to be seeking its position in society. And I also believe that there are many people who do not immediately find their position, but discover it step-by-step over many years. So do not take too much of a burden on your shoulders. Try to allow things to develop and you will see that you sooner or later find the exact position that you need to be in. But for this kind of progress time is needed.

      I could be mistaken, but the first issue that I believe needs to be addressed is your dependency on others to learn and progress. You write that you have visited many coaching classes, without progressing. Personally, I hate coaching classes, because in almost all cases I learned absolutely nothing from it. The reason for this is very simple, I discovered for myself that I needed to eliminate my own dependency on coaches, trainers and professors. I always had the attitude that all these people were responsible for my progress. I believed that they needed to teach me and that they held the sole responsibility for my ability to learn. But it is not so. It is entirely different. I alone am responsible that I learn something from a class that a take. The teacher is only there to give me an initiation into the subject matter. Nothing else. And most of the time, I would not understand the subject matter, even after the professor had explained. Coaching classes are pointless, because the mental attitude of the attendants is that they want to be spoonfed each and every detail. With this kind of attitude you’ll learn absolutely nothing.

      For this very reason, I would always sit down, read through my study materials and discover the subject on my own. No coach in the world can reach that kind of knowledge level that I am able to reach when I study on my own. But for this willingness and willpower is necessary. But once you are able to explain a subject to yourself you will make quick progress. Once you have eliminated your dependency on others you will become your own teacher. At such a stage, you will be able to be confronted with a big problem which you can then solve on your own, without the guidance of a teacher.

      You also write that your fellow students are making quick progress. Again, I believe that the students that are making progress are the students that sat down at home, re—evaluated the study materials and exercised the material on their own.

      Let’s switch to the job issue. I think it’s terrible when you start a new job without someone who gives you advices, training on the job and help. In such a situation it is not fair to look for the problem within you. In fact, you are not the problem and you have not created the problem.

      But, you always have the possibility to respond to the problem. The next time you are confronted with such a situation, either try to win a fellow colleague as a friend who can then help you with some of your questions. Or, clearly communicate to your boss that you need a coach who can train you on the job. Explain your boss very clear that your performance will be much higher if you have someone who can answer your questions and help you with problems.
      So as a quick synopsis, try to find your own solutions to your own problems. Teachers and coaches can only bring you so far. But you will be more effective and you will learn a lot more if you are willing to study on your own and to solve upcoming issues on your own.

      I hope this helps so far, but feel free to ask any further questions.

  28. I am overwhelmed with the fact that I fear that I will not be able to provide for the family. I am in my 50’s with 3 in college. I have been successful in my career but have hit a brick wall with so many changes that are occurring at the stage in my life from changes in health, change in jobs, uncertainty of the future for my children and for my wife and I. I wake up with hot flashes and heart pounding thinking about how am I going to make it.. After years of being in the same house, I thought a move would be good. Well, I made the move and regret every step of the way. I have deep remorse and emotional ties to the old home that we raised the kids in. I keep wishing that I could take it all back and it makes me feel like a failure for letting my pride get in the way.

  29. I really appreciate you telling your story. I can see by reading the comments that you have effected quite a few people. I am a 21 year old college student, who gets major anxiety/depression. I worry a lot about passing classes that are hard or I am not confident in, and worry about the consequences of failing.

    I am going through a rough time right now mentally and this article helped put things in perspective. I need to stop trying to be perfect and accept failures. Just do the best you can and whatever happens, happens. I thank you again for this article. It really helped. Have a blessed day!

    Fall down seven times get up eight

    • I’m glad that I could help you.

      I guess we are all affected by the pressure of life in one way or the other. But from a student’s perspective I can assure you that the more you progress in the educational system, the less afraid you will be about exams and tests.

      Also, another good way to reduce the pressure and anxiety would be by practicing meditation regularly. It really helps.

  30. Hey steve… Thank you sooooooooooo much… I was about to quit my life and sit back. But you made me realise that everything could be achieved with time…. i am failing in my exams since past 2 years. And i m feeling down and down.. thinking my life is a waste .. i have nothing to do.. but really your words made me realise everything… now m gonna stand up and work even harder and not think about my failures… just concentrate on my aim….. Thank you soo much you dont know how happy i m feelingg… u changed my life ….hats off to you….

  31. hi Steve Mueller
    i so love your article . and i now feel better after reading it.
    please help me on this:
    my problem is : i am failling too much in varsity , i wrote this one module 6 times now and i keep on failing , i so much lost hope in myself, and i feel so much useless now. i tried so hard, i had so many sleepless nights studyng for this single module that is holding me to graduate for my degree. i was the last hope for my parents , and they struggled so much to get money to pay for my tuition fees, i am now in the state of ignoring them because i’m wondering how they will react once they hear that i failled again. i now feel like going far away from everyone else who knows me because i feel so embarrased. it hurts so much when u go in the exam hall 6 times for just one module and u keep on failling when you can go in with 5 modules and you can pass 4 and fail one. what should i do ? please help!

    • Hi Given,

      I can deeply relate to what you’re going through at the moment. Have you considered talking to your professor? Maybe he or she can give you important tips. Also, it will be quite useful to have a look at your previous exams to find out why you failed them. Gaining knowledge about your previous mistakes will help you to avoid them in the future. Other than that, I guess it’s really important that you somehow change the way you prepare yourself for the exam. Perhaps your preparation lacks important parts of the subject. Perhaps, your preparation is not detailed enough. Whatever it is, take yourself as much time as necessary to be as properly prepared for the next week some as possible. And whatever you do, always remember not to give up.

  32. thank you so much, my family was expectin me to start university education this year but i failed my finals.I will have to to sit again, thanks fo the motivation now i know i can bounce back & conquer.

    I DO APRECIATE ALL THE HARDWRK & EFFORT

  33. Really good post. Reminds be of this motivational speaker Moustafa Hamwi that I heard in Dubai. Anyway, please keep posting lovely stuff. Thanks.

  34. Thank you so much for writing this article. I have my exam results for my final year of studies tomorrow, which is the last step in achieving a career as a lawyer and i am very afraid that i have failed them however your article has relieved me of that worry.

    Brilliant article!

    😀

  35. This article helped me a lot. I really need something to comfort me right now. I failed my test just this afternoon. I am so devastated that I declined my friend’s invitation to go out and enjoy the rest of the day. I felt the need to reflect on it. I found out I did know how to do the process, the problem is that I’ve been thinking too much. But still, I think it is a relief that I learned something out of it. Thank you for this! Good read.

  36. I think you should always be afraid of failures.If you aren’t afraid of failures you are unlikely to succeed. We all have cherished success maybe we even deserve to succeed but it’s not a sort of experience we learn from.I believe the true path to success is through failures because you learn from it.So you should never be afraid to fail.

  37. My greatest fear is still failure. My parents push me to do better even though I try my best. Some other classmates in my school do better than me (even though I am in honors classes in all subjects) but I don’t know how to catch up to them. Middle school is scary to many people, especially 1st year students. I don’t struggle, but I feel like being pushed to my limit is still not good enough for this school, after all, my school is top 50 middle schools…

    • I believe in you, I believe that you can make it. Sometimes, even the most ambitious parents will have to realize that their kids are perfectly fine even if they are not always in the first place and every statistic possible. Similarly, it is also important for you to understand that there will always be people who are far better than you. But don’t let these people get you down. Instead, look what these people are doing better than you and try to grow one step at a time. It may feel incredibly challenging to always compete with the best of the best, but ultimately this is what will make you stronger.

      • My finals is in 5 days and I am too worried I can’t even focus on revising I am too scared that I won’t get good marks and disappoint my parents and family as My whole family always tells me that they used to always get A+ in their exams when they were my age (I am in grade 8) I tried to focus but the fear of disappointing the ones I love and maybe failing is just too much it leads me to tears I feel stuck do you have any advice for me and others that can relate to that? and I didn’t even study well during my school year …..

        • There’s only one way to overcome all these anxieties and fears: studying exceptionally hard and preparing yourself for the exams long in advance. By doing so, you will be a lot more confidence during the exams because you have done everything you could possibly do to prepare yourself. Secondly, I always advice students to find goals that motivate them to study properly. You will never live up to your full potential if your family has to pressure you into getting good marks. Instead, find what motivates you to study, which will help you to do the best you can.

        • Well I guess all of this is happening because I didn’t quite study well during my school year so I will do my best with the time that I have got and in these exams and I will do better my next year !! (ง ͠° ͟ل͜ ͡°)ง
          Thanks for your advice really appreciate It 🙂 !

  38. Hello Steve, I totally I agree with the advice given in this post I think a lot of people take failure to mean they are not capable of doing what necessary to succeed and therefore making it hard for them to have success with the things they try to do in life, if people change the way they see failure their lives naturally become easier.

  39. Fantastic article, Steve! I agree that failure should not be feared, it should be accepted as a result of taking a huge risk and understand that your particular approach to a problem was not correct. Objectively analyzing what went wrong is the first approach to learning from failure. I would add that subjective and reflective analysis is the second step to moving past failure. It’s important to understand how that failure felt, for it can be used as motivation to not repeat the same mistake. If you have failed in your past, it’s best to make the pain of failure worth something by turning the lessons learned into future opportunities!

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