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How To Stay Motivated When You Fail

Last week, we talked about how you can’t own anything. This week, we will discuss how to stay motivated on your path of personal growth after failure.

Life is hard. People hurt you, you make mistakes, and things rarely go your way. Worst of all, even though you know you should be able to experience emotions without taking immediate, passionate action, you often fail to apply that knowledge in the moment.

Does that sound relatable?

Here’s the thing: you’re only human. Even if you have committed to a lifetime of training and growth, you are not a sage, and you never will be. There is only so much weight you can carry before you break.

When you finally do reach your breaking point, it won’t take much to turn your peace into chaos:

  • Your boss might insult you to your face
  • A cop might pull you over for speeding when you’re already late for work
  • Your credit card might get hacked
  • The neighbor’s dog might start barking in the middle of the night
  • You might miss your flight

When you’ve reached your current capacity for stress, events like these can feel like a personal apocalypse, and you might act like a fool, saying something cruel or giving yourself over to senseless complaining.

Later, when you get some perspective, you’ll probably look back and wonder, “Has all my training been for nothing if I can’t even control myself at a time like this?” 

Quote Of The Week

“Is it possible to be free from error? Not by any means, but it is possible to be a person stretching to avoid error.” – Epictetus

Celebrate Progress, Not Perfection

While it’s admirable to want to do better, it’s important to understand your limitations and learn to cope with personal failure.  It’s good to admit to yourself, “I fucked up. I need to do better next time.” However, it only does harm to say, “I fucked up because I’m a pathetic loser who never does anything right.”

What’s the difference? One idea is full of love, the other is full of hate. When you love yourself, that love spills over into other areas of your life and makes you an asset to your community. Likewise, when you hate yourself, that hate spills over and turns you into a curse on the people around you.

So, the next time you fail to restrain yourself in a moment of passion, take a moment to look backward. Compared to who you were six months ago, how do you handle yourself under pressure now? What about compared to a year ago?

If you have made progress – any at all – that is cause for celebration, because you’ve learned to do something most people won’t do: to give a shit about your actions.

Just as with any other discipline, positive reinforcement is a far more powerful motivator than punishment. If you’ve noticed a pattern of progress in your life, then you should begin building a pattern of celebration to go along with it. 

As long as you live, just keep growing. Over time, you’ll find that it’s easier to delay your anger, not just against others, but against yourself, too.

Question Of The Week

When is the last time you failed? Did you beat yourself up for it? If so, did the punishment make it any easier to try again?

Live On Purpose // Die Without Regrets

Each Wednesday, I publish a 3-5 minute newsletter + video podcast that applies ancient wisdom to modern life.

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