Q: “I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I am really believing I’m a failure. My dad, who died 5 years ago, always told me I was a failure. My ex-husband kept telling me the same thing, and then my former employer told me I was a failure. I’ve fought that all my life, not wanting to believe I’m a failure. Except now I am beginning to believe it. I’ve messed up a lot, but still want to be successful in all areas of my life. What should I do now?
I think I have an idea of what might be going on here.
The very first and most important step is to stop looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving! What in the world does that mean? Well, think about it. If you tried driving while only looking in the rearview mirror, what would happen? At best you would be off course quite a bit, and at worst you would crash.
Why do I think you are looking in the rearwiew mirror? Three key words you have used:
former, ex- and dead.
Your ex-husband, your former boss, and your dead father.
All these people and events are in the past. You keep their words alive by looking in the rearview mirror.
Even if you have failed before, even if you have failed often, that does not mean you are a failure.
Another of my favorite quotes is “it takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”
Success comes from focusing on what you can do, both in the present and the future. Right now you are focusing on the past in a way that is disabling you.
Let’s look at how to focus on success, now and in the future:
Install one of Tony Robbin’s key ideas: “The past does not equal the future.”
Ask yourself, “In how many ways can I do small things today that will allow me to end the day feeling successful.”
Get clear on what success means for you. For some people, they consider themselves successful only if they made at least a million dollars last year. For others, every day above ground is a successsful day. What is it for you?
Give up trying to be a perfectionist. The quickest and surest way to feel like a failure is to try to be perfect. Until one of us walks on water, we just can’t realistically expect ourselves to be perfect. So turn in your resignation and retire from that silly job.
Ask yourself, “How many actions can I take today that will contribute to both my success today and in the future?”
In closing, remember that the only way to really fail is to either quit and/or not learn something from the situation.
And, oh yeah, eyes forward when you’re driving and living.