How To Fail Well
Updated: Jul 4, 2020
There are those of us who dream big, those who dream small and those who don’t dream at all. What do you think contributes to how far you are willing to go when you imagine your ideal life? I know what gets in my way: My Fear of Failure.
I like to get technical sometimes, so I went ahead, and I googled “Failure.” Google defines failure as:
1- Lack of Success
2- The omission of expected or required action.
From the second definition, we can conclude that we are afraid of not meeting our expectations.
What part of not meeting those expectations are we so afraid of? I became curious about what I’ve observed while coaching women on money. It shows up in different ways, but there is one common denominator. They are all afraid of feeling an emotion. Frustration, shame, insecurity, overwhelm.
For example, when considering starting a budget, they may be afraid of feeling “shame.” They think they may feel shame when looking at how much money they budgeted for clothes vs. what they spent. However, the truth is that the shame is coming from thoughts such as “I’m not smart enough with my money,” “I’m irresponsible,” “I’m never going to get it right,” “I don’t seem to have my priorities straight,” “I don’t know enough,” and “I’m not enough. ” They know that they will pay attention to their spending, which is no problem until they have a thought about it that causes them to feel an unwanted emotion. So they avoid budgeting.
I get it. Why would you want to start a budget when you know you will feel shame or frustration when you don’t meet your goals? You better not start a budget at all because you can save yourself all that suffering, right? Nope. Not having a budget is an escape. You are giving up before even starting. Other forms of escapes are lowering your expectations. You say, “Maybe I’ll start a budget, but I’ll be more generous in my clothing category” “I’ll be more realistic,” so you know you’ll meet your goal every month. But here, you are keeping yourself from possibly saving a few hundred dollars that could go towards the downpayment on your house. You may also escape by indulging in emotions such as confusion and overwhelm. You could say, “I don’t know that a budget is right for me,” “a budget is so restrictive.” You may want to escape these negative emotions by buffering and possibly spending more money.
All of these forms of escape prevent you from showing up, having your own back, and pursuing your goal to manage your spending.
What you may not recognize is that what you are so afraid of, this emotion created by your thoughts is a product of your imagination. You may go over budget, and it may take you six months to learn how to spend what you said you would, but it is also possible that you could succeed and meet your spending goals. Not starting a budget or lowering your expectations is no different than failing. You are just failing ahead of time.
When you escape, not only do you escape from the possibility of success but also worthy failures. Going over budget is a worthy fail because of the learning that happens in the process. You are gathering data about what to do or not to do in the future. But most importantly, you learn to manage your thoughts and your emotions around it. When you fail, you get to choose how to interpret that failure. You get to create the story that will serve you best. But even if you can’t get there yet and accept the sentences that your brain is offering you as true and feel shame, you can learn to process this feeling. Because in the end, the worst that can happen to you is a feeling. When you FEEL shame and don’t react to it by hiding and judging yourself, avoid it by buffering or resist by fighting against it, you are left with shame itself, which is a vibration in your body.
When you know that you can feel any emotion, you are willing to dream and set financial goals because you are not afraid of failure. You understand that the worst that can happen to you is an emotion. And this is good news because you can learn the tools to process your feelings or even prevent them by managing your thoughts and replacing them with more useful thoughts. You are willing to fall, get back up, try something different, and do it all over again. You get good at failing forward, and this is failing well. Because as Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.”
When you say yes to failing, you are saying yes to growth.
Are you ready to learn how to manage your mind around money and learn how to process your feelings when things don’t go as expected? Click here to schedule a mini session to find out what is keeping you from dreaming big.
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