You Can Motivate Yourself to Start Again After a Business Failure
The difficult process of healing and finding the courage to get back into the fray is profoundly beneficial.
The fear of failure is a leading killer of motivation. Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart but you can overcome fear and take that critical leap of faith.
But, if you think it's tough to motivate yourself to try once, try motivating yourself after a business failure. I won't sugarcoat this. Business failure sucks. It’s stressful. You want to curl-up in the fetal position -- permanently. I’ve failed. So has Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Bezos, Thomas Edison, Vera Wang, Tim Ferriss and Lawrence Ellison to name just a few. We are all in good company here. In fact, only 20 percent of businesses survive their first year.
Don't let the statistics and nay-sayers stop you from pursuing your dream. While failure is always lurking around the corner, it’s not the end of the world when a failure happens.
So, you are going to fail but you can always pick yourself back up. This list will help you -- but no one can do the list for you. You will have to take these for yourself. It may be hard, but take a step into your future.
Accept it, learn from it, move on.
I get it - I honestly do - you’re still in disbelief. You're heartbroken. You’re freaking out over money. The thing is, the sooner you accept that your business failed, the sooner you can learn from the mistakes that you made and start moving-on.
Think about what you could have done differently. What mistakes did you make? Confront that so you won’t repeat them in the future. Trust me. It will help you grow both professionally and personally. But here’s the kicker -- don’t dwell it on for long. Accept it and start looking towards the future.
As the legendary Johnny Cash once said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
Take time to heal emotionally.
Even after you’ve accepted that your business failed, you’re won't be over it in a day or two. It’s a process that may take weeks or months. You may never get over it completely. That’s all right. You can learn to move through this failure. Remember, just don’t dwell on it.
I have a friend whose spouse was killed in a car crash. She had the business to run and her small children. She had to keep going. She began moving through her tragic loss by being alone and breaking down completely. But she did this breaking down only once a day, in her closet, for 10 minutes. She set a timer and allowed herself deep, dark, loud grief.
Her way works for her. You have to find something that works for you. Save yourself. Until you’re in a better spot emotionally and mentally, take the time to heal.
When my business failed, my wife and I went to Disneyland. It took our minds off the failure and lifted our spirits -- after all, Disneyland is the "happiest place on Earth." Once I returned from that little vacation, I felt better. Not 100 percent but enough to get the ball rolling on my next move. I grieved for a while, but did not let everyone see it.
When are you least motivated? It’s when you’re down in the dumps. As explained in Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess:
“So procrastination is a mood-management technique, albeit (like eating or taking drugs) a shortsighted one. But we’re most prone to it when we think it will actually help…"
"Well, far and away the most procrastination will occur among the bad-mood students who believe their mood could be changed, and who had access to fun distractions.”
When we’re happy, however, we’re more productive and successful.
So, how can you get positive?
There’s no right answer. But, it could be anything from watching your favorite comedy to hanging out with optimistic friends. For me, writing down what I’m grateful for everyday improves my mood. It reminds me what I have instead of what I don’t.
Occasionally something like being grateful seems almost frivolous or silly. Because it is easy, you think it won't work. When you have just lost your business -- try the silly stuff. Try things that you think won't work. Try gratitude, even if just for the fact that gratitude has been studied and is a proven technique.
I also find the time to give back by volunteering with nonprofits. In fact, scientist have found that acts of kindness can lead to happiness. As an added bonus, working with nonprofits is a great networking opportunity.
Physical activity, whether it’s jogging or yoga, releases mood boosting endorphins and alleviates stress. Simply put, exercising increases those feel-good chemicals in your brain while also improving your mood.
Additionally, physical activity can act as a form of meditation. It keeps your mind focused on your current single task, which can help eliminate those feelings of doubt. When combined, these elements have the power to produce feelings of motivation, possibility and accomplishment.
Plan your next move.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
Inaction is a serious motivation killer. Instead of getting stuck in a pit of failure and feeling sorry for yourself, start digging yourself out of this hole. Plan your next move. This could be as simple as getting your finances in order, organizing your home office, writing down what you excel at. Even beginning on conducting some early market research for your next project works.
Find a mentor.
When I was at my lowest, I turned to a mentor who helped guide me through my reinvention. I was fortunate enough to have that person in my life, but what if you don’t have a mentor? Remember, they’re everywhere.
They could be former professors, local business owners or even a successful entrepreneur. Maybe you’ve never met them, but have read their books or watched their TED Talks. Seek their honest advice and use that advice as a road map to help you get to where you want to go.
Rewards feel good. In fact, research has found that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things. So whenever you have crossed off an item on your to-do-list, give yourself a little reward. You’ve earned it. You need to believe that you not only need this reward -- but that you deserve it.
If you’re stuck on how to reward yourself, some ideas would be to take yourself out to breakfast. Take a vacation, go goofing around online by taking quizzes or watching the latest viral vids. Bribe yourself (someone taking French lessons treat themselves to a subtitled French movie).
Rehearse past successes.
Remember, failure accompanies success. In other words, there were moments where you were succeeding. Recall some of those past successes and rehearse them aloud.
Focus on the actions, as well as your choices, that led to that success. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a little verbal praise and affirmation. After all, it was you who was responsible for those successes. If you feel a little awkward saying affirmations out loud, at least write down your accomplishments in a journal or notebook.
In the words of Tom Hopkins, “I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”
Get outside of your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone feel all safe and warm. But stepping outside of that comfort zone challenges you to try new things and have new experiences, which in turn could open the door for new business opportunities.
When my business failed, I gave coding a try. I also started blogging and invested in businesses that weren’t in my realm of expertise. And, my wife and I packed up our stuff and moved to Silicon Valley.
If I didn’t step outside of my comfort zone, I wouldn't have been motivated to get where I am today. Blasting out of that comfort zone pushed me to take action.
Focus on other goals.
When we fail at a big task, like a business, it’s hard to get your mojo back. One easier way to boost our confidence is by succeeding at smaller tasks. Instead of worrying about starting a new business right away, focus on smaller and more achievable goals. It’s those small steps that will lead you to success. Always remember, a win's a win - no matter the size.
Get peer pressured.
Believe it or not, peer pressure actually helps kids more than it hurts them. In this case, this means surrounding yourself with positive people. Find those who are supportive and encouraging.
Yes, you need someone who can hear your whoa's and tell you it will be okay. But leave the rest of the Negative Nancy’s and Dave Downers in the dust. It means the Selfish Sam's, too.
Visualize your success.
Sometimes after failure all you need to do is close your eyes and imagine what success looks like to you. See yourself where you want to be. How did that make you feel? Pretty awesome, right? Visualization has power. Use that power for your benefit. Visualization provides strong emotions which can motivate us.
Additionally, visualization helps make success seem more tangible and can help reinforce positive mindsets.
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