Last week I shared with you about the 2 fears (what’s stopping you?) we face whenever we want to embark on any big projects. The fear of failure and the fear of success. If you haven’t read that yet, click the link.(https://vivekiyyani.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/2-fears/).
Now, we know that to start any project confidently, we need to overcome these fears. And yet, overcoming these fears don’t happen overnight. So does that mean you have to ultimately wait for the fears to disappear? Do you have to eradicate each and every fear before you begin?
Do not fall into the “perfectionist” syndrome and procrastinate. The idea that “Everything I create has to be perfect for me to allow others to see my work. I need to generate the best work for it to represent me. I need to be proud of what I have produced to feel worthy/happy/satisfied” . If you fall in this category, see this quote I love, by Ira Glass.
As much as we want to create the best, these things usually don’t come overnight. It takes a certain amount of experience, mindset and creativity to bring about the best quality that we can provide. What we CAN do however, is to begin our projects, and prepare ourselves for failure. Leave nothing to chance.
When we do not prepare ourselves for failure, We tend to get badly affected when we are served hard knocks from life. Projects that we started out feeling confident and determined to complete end up incomplete or incompetent due to the challenges that overcame us. The majority of the population have no difficulty in starting a project or ending it, but it’s the rare minority that complete it successfully by going through the challenges and overcoming them. As the saying goes, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail”
So what does it mean to “prepare for failure”?
Introducing Murphy’s Law.
A smart person will know that the Murphy’s Law will apply in his situation and not being prepared for it is akin to allowing failure to hold the stronger hand.
Many may argue that we never know what might happen, be it positive or negative. But we do know one thing for sure. Whatever can happen, will happen. And that includes things that may set you back, such as Challenges that seem impossible to overcome. And once we face challenges, we fall back into our usual pattern of handling challenges. This pattern of handling challenges has to be useful, where it helps you to not only bounce back, but bounce back higher.
1) Know your Negative Trigger
I know that if I am affected by a certain event, and I am thinking negatively or feeling lousy, it is time to break the pattern before it spirals downwards. So just like how we stop the blood flow from a deep cut of a wound, I apply some “bandage” around my heart before I become a victim to emotional trauma.
What I do is something I learned from the movie, “The 3 idiots”. See video below.
I tell myself, “ALL IS WELL” while patting my heart which feels very heavy with disappointment or anguish. I do this everytime I feel down to calm myself and to assure myself that nothing is out of hand.
Once I am feeling low, I know I have to do something to feel better. i.e. activate the standard operating procedures. So after I calm myself down, I open up the file to see what options I have.
Now it may seem ridiculous. Why would you need to have a document of things you like to do when these are things you already know at the back of your mind?
Let me explain. When I am feeling down, I am not aware of these options when my mind is in the negative state. These options do not automatically pop out to me. Infact, I tend to just continue ruminating and worrying about the situation rather than actively doing something about it. This is a negative pattern which is not useful in helping me bounce back. Hence, I remind myself that I have to break the pattern by opening up the documented file.
So, to create your own SOP file, you need to know what makes you feel better/hopeful in unpleasant situations.
2) Know your options.
Once I am overcome by some failure or disappointment, I do any of the following, depending on my surroundings and situations.
a) Listen to your favourite motivational song.
Think back into your past. Definitely there are some instances where you have been highly inspired by some music or song that brings back strong emotions of hope and positivity. It may have been anchored into you during your childhood days when you were watching a particularly inspirational movie. Music has the ability to change your emotional states almost immediately, and once you get yourself back into a positive state, your mind is able to look for solutions rather than to ruminate about the failure.
This video illustrates better.
b) Look for your favourite food.
Yes, I know, not exactly the healthiest of options but it works for me, and may work for you. When you are feeling sad, you can stop feeling sad and become awesome instead. And you do that by eating those comfort foods that have previously made you feel good. When I am feeling down, I look for pastries. Simply looking at a beautifully designed pastry makes my tummy roll, and I tend to forget that I am upset. I don’t simply eat the pastry. I look at it, savour it with my eyes, admire how it looks so small and yet tastes so good, smell it slowly with every breath and eat it tenderly and relinquish the feeling of having the awesome taste in my mouth as my mouth salivates with my happy juice.
Yes, Food Porn is for real. Like how I love pastries, ask yourself what is your comfort food? Chocolate is a common favourite, but may not be your thing. The key here is to identify what makes you feel a little EXCITED when eating a particular food. It could be something that reminds you of your wonderful childhood or a happy memory. I love scottish biscuits and they remind me of my awesome holiday I had there. Similarly, eating food like Pani Puri (see image below) from India brings about many nostalgic feels that make me feel better overall.
c) Watch your favourite videos.
There are many videos that I love to watch when I’m feeling down. Infact, I have categorised them according to different feelings. When I’m feeling hopeless, I watch Nick Vujicic’s videos, many inspirational movies like real steel, the pursuit of happyness etc.
Sometimes, I pig out by eating all my favourite foods and watching the movies at the same time. I have included one of my favourite go-to videos here.
d) Your Favourite Exercise
This one’s a given. Everytime I need clarity, I leave all my electronic devices at home and go for a long run. Get in touch with nature. Steve Jobs is known for taking long walks, sometimes with his friends. I keep running until I get some ideas or simply feel better. In most cases, whenever I am stuck in a situation, where there really aren’t any viable, good options, I tend to run. I roller blade in other occasions as well, depending on my mood. If I’m feeling really angry, I usually take to roller blading because I achieve an adrenaline rush by going really fast, which isn’t possible while running.
e) Friends & Family
At the end of the day, when you’re really feeling down, it’s always best to dump most of those negative feelings on those who are always there to support you. (But be there for them when they are down as well). Sorrows shared are sorrows halved. I cannot recall the number of times I have felt so much more hopeful after meeting up with friends and family, after sharing with them what has happened. In some cases, my friends have motivated me by telling me things I have told them when they were around. Don’t be surprised. All it takes is for you to have a different perspective of things to get into a positive state and sometimes, your friends are able to dish it out for you better than you are for yourself.
f) When you feel down, just write it all out.
From start to finish. This does 2 things.
1) I force my thoughts to be logically structured so that I can write them down. That prevents my thoughts from jumping around negatively from one sad point to another. It prevents rumination.
2) I tend to realise where I may have made my mistake and learn something from it or even come up with solutions.
After doing some writing, I also love to read some of my classic, favourite books. Books have the amazing power to bring you back to another reality where you can forget your worries temporarily and calm yourself down in the mean time.
3) Implementing your Standard Operational Procedure
Think of this as a computer command. “If this happens, then do that.”
a) If you’re feeling down, first step is to look through your SOP documented file.
So do this:
Now that you know what are some things you can do, create a Standard Operational Procedure file document either on your computer or your phone (preferably, as you have access to it almost always). List out everything that you would like to do in situations you are down.
b) Arrange for the things you would like to do from the strongest motivator to the strong motivator.
If you love music, do that first. If you’re a foodie, do that first. If sports is your thing, then do that. (Usually, I pick something that doesn’t have to involve others, simply because there is no guarantee that this particular person will always be around us or always be accessible/free.)
Think of it as a to-do list, see what you feel like doing amongst these options and do it.
c) Go ahead and give yourself permission and a set period of time to bounce back stronger than before.
This is a very important period of time where I do my best to attain recovery and emerge stronger than before. Hence, it is very important that you do things that recharges your energies and makes you feel stronger than before. This exercise is going to be pointless if you do these activities and come out the session feeling guilty for having eaten junk food or not done any work. I have been there.
When I failed to place top position in the Toastmasters Contest for International Speech, I took out 3-4 hours to treat myself to really good food, and to remind myself that I have learnt more and grown as a speaker. I felt good, and more importantly, I felt even more determined to do better next time.If I hadn’t given myself the chance to bounce back, I would not have been able to win as Area Champion just 6 months later. Recovery is as important as the training you put yourself through.
When you give yourself a break, make sure you do it once, and you do it right. You deserve the best and you have to treat yourself likewise. Remember to treat yourself as a champion always.
A hard fall means a high bounce…only if you’re made of the right material.
And that’s it! Simple, isn’t it?
Want to be an expert in bouncing back? Create customised S.O.P. for specific situations. This trains your brain to do what’s appropriate and saves you time deciding what to do. Sometimes, when there are too many options, we get confused in that space of time especially when we are in a negative state. To avoid this technique from backfiring from us, create customised files. These things are very helpful when you least expect it, and saves you a ton of time.