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Do you need to stop focusing on failure?

Do you ever set goals only to find yourself feeling overwhelmed by them? Or maybe you doubt that you are even capable of achieving them in the first place.

Sometimes, we can sabotage ourselves before we ever get started simply by thinking about all the obstacles and challenges in our way. We may even start to believe that we’ll never be able to achieve what we want. Sometimes we have the same goal for a long while, but spend most of our time thinking about how many times we’ve tried and failed instead of what we can be doing to overcome the obstacles that are in our way. “Why will this time be different?”

Instead of focusing on the difficulties that lie in your way, and any past failed attempts, try taking a few minutes to think about your past successes instead.  Whether they are related to your goal or not, your successes in any area of your life provide you with evidence that change – and subsequent success is even possible.

Make a list, actually write your successes down. Really dig in and think hard about all the times in your life that you were successful. Think about times you overcame challenges, reached other goals, got the job or promotion you wanted, or got recognized for something. They don’t all have to be big, resume-style goals either. Any time you ever thought to yourself, “I can’t believe I overcame that challenge!” or “I can’t believe I met that deadline.” belongs in this list. In fact, I’d like for you to  start a success journal so that you can continue writing down all your successes from big to small. It all counts. This is not the time for humility, go ahead and toot your own horn!

Our brains naturally allow us to forget about our successes and focus on areas where we are challenged. By reframing our focus, we are able to see that we are, in fact, capable of great things. We need to remember that we are more powerful than we usually think we are. We can use our past success as evidence of our potential any time we want. Suddenly, you will start to feel more capable.

You see, your subconscious brain will always look for evidence to support your beliefs, whether or not your beliefs are true, or even serve you in the direction of your dreams. For instance, if you believe that you are a failure, or incapable of greatness, your brain will find evidence to back up this belief. By shifting our focus to our successes, we provide our subconscious brain with evidence of our true capabilities. When we begin to believe we are capable of success, our brains will seek evidence to build on this new belief and it becomes a positive feedback loop.  

This is how you can use small success as evidence in your brain that you’re heading toward success. This is particularly useful when you need to break down your goals into smaller bite sized chunks. It’s sometimes easier to believe that we are capable of reaching small goals and then find evidence that we are capable of being successful from there. Keep a journal next to your bed and get in the habit of writing down your successes of the day before you go to bed. Read through them regularly. Remind yourself how often you really do experience success when you try something new.  Going to sleep thinking about your successes and then reading through them when you wake in the morning is a great way to frame your day and train your brain to focus on success and not failure. Use this as a place to start, a springboard to build momentum toward greatness and let this time be different.