When I became burnt out last summer and needed a break from Blue Jay of Happiness – I felt like a failure. Logically I knew I just needed some rest, but after working relentlessly for years trying to get my coaching business off the ground and knowing I couldn’t do it anymore, it was hard to get past the word ‘fail’.
I hadn’t been able to do what I wanted and I didn’t even know if that was what I wanted anymore. During my break though, I was able to see it for what it really was – a gentle nudge to take a different direction.
I’ve often wondered when the time to give up really is, and while I was very tempted to call it quits when I felt burnt out, after some rest I realised the passion behind what I do, the desire to do what I was doing, my ‘why’ was still very much within me. I rationalised that as long as it’s still here, I want to keep going. I just need to find another way.
All of this to day, if something you’ve tried recently hasn’t worked out like you hoped, please know you’re not alone. I wanted to share the steps I went through that helped me reframe those feelings of failure into something more positive, in case they’re helpful for you.
Give yourself space to grieve
This is important. As tempting as it may be to shrug it off and run head-first into the next project, moving too quickly can be detrimental. Feeling like you’ve failed sucks. There’s no doubt about that. Let yourself grieve whatever you need to. I had a picture in my mind of how my life would look if I became a full-time coach, I had to let the version of my future go.
If you’re able to take a break, please do. I ended up taking a couple of months off Blue Jay work, which I was able to do as I have a day-job that pays my bills, but even if you can only take a day – do it. You need a little distance. This can also help to remind you of who you are outside of whatever it was you were trying to make happen. We’re multifaceted beings, get close to the other sides of you for a minute and get some perspective.
Get a lay of the land
When you feel ready, look back at what happened and consider why it didn’t work. Try not to default to blaming yourself and take in the whole picture. For example, if you were launching a course or programme and didn’t get any interest, as well as looking at whether or not what you were offering was right for your audience, consider external factors like timing. The pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works for a lot of us and it’s no doubt had an impact.
You can dig a little deeper here too, was your heart truly in what you were trying to do? In my case, I desperately wanted to support people and I thought coaching was the only way to do this, and it felt like a natural step to me. In reality though, every time I did have a coaching call planned, I would feel sick with nerves and even though I enjoyed the calls themselves, I was totally drained afterwards. To be a coach you need to dedicate a lot of energy to it, and I realised I just don’t have the energy to spare right now.
This is where we gain knowledge and learn. Everyone who says there’s no such thing as failure, just lessons learnt are talking about this step.
Come back to basics
In the heat of the moment, the temptation to quit what you’re doing is strong. And I’m not going to lie and say you must always resist this – because there’s no shame in quitting. After all – quitting something leaves space for trying something new and isn’t that the ultimate redirection? What I will suggest is that before you make any decisions, bring yourself back to basics.
Remind yourself why you did what you did. What was your aim? What was your purpose? Is this still true now? If, deep in your gut, you know you want to keep going – keep going.
Ask yourself, how could I do it differently?
Now it’s time to think about how you move forward from here. If we take the example of launching a course, this may be as simple as trying to launch the same course at another time or deciding it needs to be delivered in a totally different way. You might decide to let go of what you’re doing now entirely and start something new. You might realise there’s another way.
If the desire to make something a reality is still within you, there will be options. In my case I’ve decided to put a pin in coaching and lean into my strengths as someone who’s good at communicating and creating content by becoming a self-worth educator. Offering ebooks, courses, workshops and who knows what else in the future will help me work with my energy levels and still accomplish my mission – helping people value themselves, their needs and their impact. And the coaching training I’ve had isn’t going to waste. It permeates everything I do.
Going through this experience is tough. Having support around you, whether that’s friends and family who can remind you how loved you are or others who ‘get’ it is key. You may also want to get support from a coach or mentor. I’ve joined a Mastermind programme to give me the support and guidance I need as I find my feet with my new direction and I know it’ll hold me steady.
No matter what’s happened, please remember that it has no impact on your worth. Our worth isn’t conditional and ‘success’ doesn’t make you more worthy. Making steps towards the life you want, no matter how many times you stumble, is key. Embrace the messiness of being human and take a deep breath. You will be OK.
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