4 ‘A’s to Fix ‘Failure’

Failure is always the best way to learn
Retracing your steps till you know
Have no fear, your wounds will heal.

Things didn’t sail smooth when I first came to Sydney: almost everything I had done back at home had to be wiped clean and start over; I figured my way out but only when deadlines were looming; in general, I can recognise myself at most as a ‘late achiever’ – I’m not born an academic. Whenever things seem to look okay, I’d tell myself, “perhaps I’m not as good as what people see I am”. I’d be panicking as I doubt myself. Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to believe I deserve all the things I have now.

I know I’m just pushing myself too hard and stressing myself out.

This is the ‘fear’ that I am facing, and ‘stress’ I have to put up with as ‘failure’ is quite likely. However, I do see what to do to fix ‘fear’, ‘stress’ and ‘failure’. I hope to share with you how I am learning to cope with them. My ways of looking at such negativity consist of 4 ‘A’s:

1. Acknowledgement (Now).

Acknowledge the fear out of ‘failure’. ‘Failure’ may be imminent, or perhaps there’s a chance you’re going to fall big time. It would be, however, the best to just identify them as ‘weakness’. Take a paper and pen, write your weaknesses down in large bullet points. For example, I write ‘I did not manage to finish a chapter on time‘. Now I acknowledge what I ‘failed’ to achieve. I focus on ‘now’ as I am aware what my weakness is, so I can come up with plans to fix it.

2. Acceptance (Past).

[CLICHE ALERT] Let bygones be bygones. You can’t cry over spilt milk. These are facts. These will be in your biography, your autobiography, and your success stories later on. It is okay to admit defeat. It’s okay to be imperfect. Let today’s defeat be your scar from a well-fought battle. Tell yourself you are still fighting. Once you’ve accepted failure, let it go, and move forward.

3. Aspiration (Future).

Successful people turn failure into experience, and experience into success. Failures are opportunities to fine-tune, to improve and to excel. No draft can be a perfect draft in the first place; no app can be bug-free even it has been officially rolled out. Remember iPhone 4? Remember what Steve Jobs said? I was one of them who receive a free bumper after buying a ‘not-perfect’ phone. But now iPhone still has a major market share in the market. Thomas Edison saw ‘failure’ as the ‘10,000 ways that didn’t work‘; so can we: if we’re passionate about the things we are doing, we can stand failure, and turn them into more ideas. We’ll make 1,000 stupid ideas and make one of them brilliant. Keep thinking about ways to make it work. If I couldn’t finish my article as scheduled, for example, I can reflect on why I failed, accept it, and start coming up with plans to make it happen the next time.

4. Achieve (Goal).

Putting plans into execution can be an uphill battle: with limited time, with tight resources and of course with your own motivation. When I realised my own willpower was not strong enough to keep a habit, I change my plan and use different ways to stick to it. I’m always passionate about foreign language but was never motivated to practise. As I reflected on this, I realised maybe it’s because it’s too overwhelming, or I’m setting the goal too high. Now I’m only practising Turkish and Japanese for 30 minutes daily, no matter what comes up. The first thing I do when I get up is grabbing my pens and notebooks with a morning coffee. Knowledge and experience accumulates; if one doesn’t start, one never achieves.

By focusing on now, letting go of the past, aspiring for the best in the future, and working to achieve my goals, I’m confident in my ability to turn things around. The worst case would just be bracing for failure – but I’ll try my best to mitigate the impact. Things still look bright I must say!

Do you have any stories about ‘success’ and ‘failure’ to share? What have you learnt from them? Feel free to share with me here! Until next time!

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