I have not done as much as I should have by this point in my life. I honestly feel like I’m failing and I can’t figure out how to change the course of my life. I’m getting older and I’ve got to beat this discouragement and fear of being a failure or it will be too late. Any advice?
First, it is never too late to make changes.
If you are ready now, then you're right on time.
Second, there are a few small mindset shifts that could change your outlook on life and give you the confidence to move forward. If you change the way you think about where you are and who you are, you will be more ready to change the course of your life.
Here are a few truths that you can adopt to combat discouragement:
1. Where you are (your level of success) is just a place on your journey. You must separate where you are from whoyou are.
You’re the one who decided that where you are isn’t good enough. You are judging your progress by a rule which you made. If you made the rule, you also have the power to change the rule and experience where you are in a different way.
You can decide to believe that you are right where you are supposed to be on your unique journey of learning and growing. You must have needed this failure experience to teach you something; that’s why you are here. But this experience doesn’t mean anything about who you are or where you're going. Choosing to see yourself as right on track will remove the discouragement that is halting your progress.
Remember, most successful people have been unsuccessful at one time or another, but they didn’t let a period of failure define them. They held onto their confidence (which is knowing who they are) despite their results. You can do this, too.
2. You have the power to decide how you will feel about your life.
You can experience this where-you-are reality with discouragement if you want to. You can spend every day afraid that you've ruined your life. You can feel like a failure. You can feel inferior to other people and embarrassed about what you’ve accomplished.
But you don’t have to.
There is another option.
You can also choose to see your life as the perfect classroom journey for you. You can choose to believe that each experience was in your life for a perfect reason: to teach you something. You can choose to trust God that you are safe in this process and your value isn’t on the line. You can choose to see yourself as good enough right now.
You have the power to choose that.
There will be some people who will read this article and say, “It’s not that easy. You can’t just choose to feel better about yourself.” But you can. It is the first and most critical step to changing your life. You cannot become something you don't believe you are.
If you think you can't choose to see yourself in a more positive way, you are denying your power, the one power that no one can take from you: the power to choose your attitude.
Don’t give that power away and become a victim. Claim that power and take responsibility for how you see yourself.
3. You get to decide how you will value yourself.
You can experience this who-you-are reality with fear and discouragement if you want to. You can base your value on what you accomplish, the amount of money you make, how you look or how you compare to other people.
You can think about yourself that way, or you can decide to get your value from your character; your love for God, life and other people; your kindness; your generosity; and your determination not to give up.
You can choose to base your value on your intrinsic qualities instead of your extrinsic results. This is a much healthier way to value yourself because your intrinsic qualities are, in fact, who you are.
You are your love, and because of that, no failure experience can make you lose who you are. You may lose your money, your reputation or even your friends, but you can't lose your knowledge about who you are and your intrinsic goodness. Not even a bad mistake changes who you are. Good people make bad choices all the time.
Make the decision right now to believe that you are right on track in your personal journey of growth. Choose to believe that as long as you stay in class and keep learning, you are good enough. Choose to focus on being the love — focused on others — everywhere you go. (Not to the extent of becoming co-dependent, but just so you aren't focused on your insecurities anymore.)
4. Choose to see life as classroom, not a testing center and not a race.
Your life is not a competition, so you can’t be behind and you can’t lose. Your life is a classroom where you get to enjoy a wide range of human experiences (including the failure experience) so you can learn and gain wisdom. Don’t dwell in shame and guilt over those failures. It's a waste of your energy. Focus on the lessons and let the rest go.
Thinking this way can completely change the way your life feels, but it can be hard because choosing this positive attitude is exercising like a muscle you haven’t used in a while. It will take some practice to get it in shape.
Remember, in each moment there are only two choices: You can choose to feel fear (regret, guilt, shame, discouragement and self-hate), or you can choose trust and love (trusting God about your infinite and absolute value, focused on learning and loving, and you can experience gratitude, faith, peace and joy).
The question is, which mindset will you choose in this moment?
This moment is all you ever have.
You can always choose to feel positive about who you are right now. If you continue to believe that you can’t, you are going to stay stuck.
The first step to changing the course of your life is changing your mindset. (If this proves difficult, you may want to find a counselor or coach to help you.) Then, armed with a healthier attitude, you can get to work and create better results.
It won't be easy (it's a battle, moment to moment), but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.