Failure is always disheartening. And when you feel like you're facing one failure after another, it gets overwhelming. Maybe you’ve been trying to stop binge eating after work, or spend more time reading, or cook more and eat out less. No matter what the source or cause, believing that you are a failure erodes your self-confidence and increases the likelihood of indulging in unhealthy stress behaviors.
As a new business owner and a recovering emotional eater, I speak from experience. So, what can you do to get out of that disempowered mindset and back to a perspective that allows you to move forward? Here are five things to do when you’re overwhelmed by failure.
1. Reassess your goals—and make sure they're SMART.
Failure is hard to avoid if you haven’t set goals that actually encourage success. If your goals are disorganized, vague, or not aligned with who you are, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even start. So, what are SMART goals? They are specific, measurable, attainable, they resonate, and they are time-managed. Here's a checklist to make sure every goal you set fits the SMART criteria.
- Is it stated very clearly?
- Do you have a way to measure your progress?
- Is your goal something you can realistically meet?
- Does this goal align with who you are and the life you want to have?
- Are there logical end points when you can stop to assess how things are going?
For example, if you’re trying to stop binge eating after work, your SMART goal might look like this:
I’m going to eat a low-carb, high-fat lunch every day at work (specific and measurable). To do this, I’m going to make a list of all the restaurants close to work and their healthy options (it resonates and it's attainable). I’ll choose one of these options every day for two weeks and see how it effects my binge eating (time-managed).
2. Start fresh right now.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by failure, it’s easy to get stuck in that place—but you don't have to let that happen. No matter what time of day it is, or what day of the week, you can start fresh right now. I know, it’s tempting to wait until Monday—don’t.
Go for a walk; tidy your desk, kitchen, fridge, or coffee table; clean your teeth—and start right now.
3. Make lists.
I love using lists to make what's overwhelming feel achievable. Lists help you refocus, switch your brain to a different track, and can be a calming, creative outlet. For example, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by failure, try making one of these lists:
- 10 things I'm grateful for right now
- 5 things I've done well today
- 5 uplifting songs
- Fun things to do with friends on weekends
- 6 new vegetable recipes I want to try
- Things that make me happy
4. Reassess your definitions of success and failure.
We so often define success as not yet arrived at: a goal weight, a promotion, a certain number of calories. And every day we don’t arrive there (or take a significant step forward) is a failure. It's easy to lose track of, or ignore, the baby steps that make change possible. But it’s those everyday baby steps that are actually the big wins. They are going to get you where you want to go. By shifting your focus toward the little things you’ve done well, you not only get out of the mindset of failure, you also create a positive-feedback loop that will encourage you to keep going.
5. Find the lesson in what went wrong.
Maybe you reverted to binge eating after taking steps to stop or fell short of your income goals this month. Some things feel like undeniable failures. Often, they make us feel like failure is inevitable.
To reframe the situation, look for the lesson in everything that initially presents itself as a failure. Instead of letting your fears and failures paralyze you, sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself:
- Why did this happen?
- How much of this was within my control?
- What can I learn from this?
- What can I do differently next time?
Feeling like you’ve failed is horrible, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you or even slow you down. Use these tips to make setbacks as constructive as you can, and keep moving toward your goals. You'll get there.