Keeping on failing until you succeed! This pithy statement sounds sensible enough but like a lot of wisdom it is harder to put into practice. The problem is failure takes the wind out of my sails – I usually experience it like a punch to the stomach, and I’m never ready for it. I know the secret is to just pick myself back up but one of the effects of failure is it saps my motivation.
Some people do seem to be better at picking themselves up after failure than others. It is not something I’m particularly good at, but I always do manage to get back to the battle eventually.
My initial response to things going wrong is to sink into depression. I then lose my motivation as I channel my energy into worrying. This cause the situation to deteriorate further because I’m not taking effective action to fix things.
I escape this downward spiral of depression and low energy by taking deliberate steps to increase my motivation. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:
Go for Long Walks
I love walking, and I’m lucky enough to live beside a beautiful beach here in Thailand. It doesn’t matter what is happening in my life, I always feel better after engaging in this activity. This is something I have to force myself to do when I’m feeling low, but I never regret it. Waking clears my head and leaves me feeling energized – I usually have at least a possible solution to my problem by the time I get home.
Create a Written Plan for Improving the Situation
If I allow problems to just bang around inside my skull, they appear far worse than they actually are. One of the most effective things I can do is to put everything down on paper. This makes things much clearer, and it means I’m no longer at the mercy of my mind’s fondness for blowing things out of proportion. The act of writing things down simplifies things enough that I’m able to form some type of plan – once I have this plan, there is far less need for me to worry and this frees up my energy.
Talk About the Problem with Other People
One problem I don’t have is the urge to suffer in silence. I sometimes worry my habit of sharing all my fears and worries on my blogs makes me look like a bit of a basket-case, but this effort has saved my sanity and got me back on track more than once. I think the worst thing we can do when we are feeling low is to isolate. I know it’s a cliché but a problem shared really is a problem halved – even if the only thing the other person can do is listen.
Get Some Comic Relief
I tend to wallow unashamedly when I’m feeling low – I doubt there are many people who can do depression better than me. I develop a craving for books and documentaries that examine the deep philosophical questions of life and death. My taste in music also takes a dark twist as I begin to play more Nirvana, Nick Drake, and Elliot Smith. I turn to these diversion for comfort, but all I’m really doing is making myself feel more miserable. What I really need more than anything is to laugh and forget my troubles – a good comedy movie or TV show gives me a real boost.
Focus on the Needs of Other People
It might sound counter-intuitive but focusing on other people can be the most effective thing I can do to get back on track. This is because failure knocks me into a mode of thinking where I’m self-obsessed – the more time I spent worrying about my own problems, the less capable I become of fixing them. Trying to be there for other people makes me feel better about myself – it means I feel useful and less of failure.
The Keys to Restoring Your Motivation Following Failure
• Clear your head with plenty of long walks
• Write down everything on paper and create a plan
• Talk about your worries and fears with other people – even if they don’t have a solution, you are going to feel better after sharing your load.
• Watch comedy shows and avoid anything that is too serious
• Try to focus on the needs of other people