Starting over, rebooting or reinventing often begins with recovering from failure. Failure, whether personal or professional, can be crushing. Recovering from failure is about making peace with the loss of the dream (at least for now). Every failed marriage, every business failure, every professional failure confronts us with “a dream deferred” and even a dream denied.
Face the Brutal Truth
It also confronts us with ourselves – our imperfections, our miscalculations, our personality flaws and our triggers. We can choose to face the brutal truth – which is the key to growth and change – or we can try and protect ourselves with denial. We can blame the partner who ripped us off; we can blame the ex-spouse who is a relentless bitch/bastard/cheat/whatever; we can blame the economy; we can blame apartheid – pick your scapegoat. We all know that blame, no matter how justified, and refusal to take accountability for our own lives keeps us stuck in the past.
Making a fresh start is a series of decisions. It starts with the decision to leave behind us what has gone before. Sometimes this is the decision to stop trying to pursue something that is clearly not going to work out. My father used to say “the nicest thing about bashing your head against a wall is when you stop”. I think that is true. Of course, there are many instances where you just need to get up one more time than you are knocked down; and there are other instances where you just need to get out of the ring.
Another aspect of the decision to leave something behind us is the decision to focus eyes forward and take one step after another towards the future we want to create, no matter how difficult. It is often the eyes front thing that can be the most challenging. It is tempting to look back at the cause of our failure – but continually looking backwards keeps us in the past. We CANNOT move forward while looking back over our shoulders.
A second decision that we need to make is the decision to forgive ourselves – and anyone who has wrestled with forgiveness of any kind will know (i) it is something you do for yourself in order to free yourself of the past, and (ii) you have to do it over and over and over again every time the memory of that wound consumes your thinking. Forgiving oneself is no different. No matter how blameworthy someone else may be in your failure, you were still part of it.
Perhaps you turned a blind eye to an alarm bell; perhaps you neglected to deal with something you should have dealt with early on; perhaps you were relying on someone else to create your big break and they let you down; perhaps you simply didn’t see something coming. In any event, you were there and you were part of it. So self-forgiveness is critical, and it is just as challenging as forgiving another person – over and over again you will need to say “I forgive you”.
Forgive the Other
A third decision is to forgive the other, if there is one. Forgiveness does not make the wrong ok. What it does is it frees you of the tyranny that the wrong wields over you. In so many instances, the person who did you wrong has gone on to live their lives with zero concern for you at all. In many instances, there isn’t a single person who has wronged you, but an entire system. Your holding on to the wound, the anger, the resentment has NO impact on the other. But it has an enormous impact on you. It keeps you stuck, it stops you from making your way, it enslaves you. If you want to be free to move forward, you have to let go. That is what forgiveness is – letting it go.
Envision the Life You DO Want
Once you are working with these decisions, you can think about and envision the life you want to create. This could be:
- The business you want to build
- The relationship you want to have
- The dream job you want to find
- The new life you want to create
You have turned your back on what you DON’T want. Now it is time to get clear on what you do want. Here are some questions you might entertain (depending on the relevance to your situation):
1. Building a business
- What is the problem you will solve?
- Whose life will be better because of your solution and how?
- How will your solution make the world/community/market segment a better place?
- How will your own life be enhanced by the business you seek to build?
- Describe that relationship in all its aspects;
- What kind of partner do you want to be?
- How will you change and grow in order to be the partner you want to be?
- What kind of partner do you deserve?
- What kind of life do you want to create with that partner?
- Who will you serve and how will you make their lives better?
- What (kind of) company do you dream of working for?
- What is it about your dream job that will get you up and excited every morning?
- How do you want to live?
- Where do you want to live?
- What contribution do you want to make? (work or community)
- What do you want in that life? (family, social, activities, hobbies, etc.)
These questions are not exhaustive, and I hope they will lead to more of your own questions. What they do is they move your attention into the future. If you can envision something that you really really want, you will be able to move towards your new you and your new life. It’s an important start and the basis for any planning and action that will result.
If you recognise that you need to start over, reboot or reinvent yourself, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss your coaching programme.