I was trying to hide but you found me!

How many times have you asked the question “what am I doing wrong?”

It may be rhetorical for some, but it is a rather critical question in many instances that really needs to be addressed, since some forms of failure do tend to be chronic.

Personally, I ask myself that question to start the critical process of analysis to see what could have gone wrong with whatever I was doing.  As careful as a person can be, and I am a pretty careful person, sometimes there will always be that unforseen element that will make things not go according to plan.  The idea here is not really to prepare for everything and anything, since that is just not possible, we are, after all, only human.  What is needed here is to learn from what happened, find the source of what caused the failure, and see what triggers it, so as to better help you steer clear of it for the next time, or at the very least, prepare for it.

Trying to find out what caused the failure to occur is perhaps the most accepted positive reaction to failure, since it shows that one is willing to continue to try again, or keep on going despite the setback of the failure, as well as the desire to make things better by trying to make sure the failure is not one that happens again.  This is not restricted to a person’s personal failure, this is actually an accepted general rule in society.  The authorities do it to try to prevent or solve crimes, which is why they have the Crime Scene Investigation units.  There are also the various investigators working in various industries who do what is known as a “post mortem” investigation, to know the root cause of specific failures, such as accidents linked to vehicles or machines.

It is, however, a bit simpler when one takes a long hard look at what may have triggered or caused a personal instance of failure, since most of the elements involved are things you are immediately involved in, and could control the next time around.  With this in mind, here are a few of the more common causes of failure that often plague people:

Lackluster goals

Goals, apart from showing a clear path to which people should direct their efforts to so as to achieve something, should also serve as a constant pep rally for the people who have them.  It should always serve to push them on, regardless of obstacles or hardships that go with the tasks towards the goal.  Goals should also be realistic, and I stress this word: realistic, so that it could be better differentiated from the similar-sounding word simplistic, which many often confuse with the former.  Having a realistic goal means having a lofty target that while seemingly elevated in stance, is still achievable.  Simplistic goals are those that are very achievable, but are those that don’t really inspire a sense of great accomplishment once completed.  You can set the bar at a level that is rather high, but still quite reachable.

Overpowering fear

There are many kinds of fear, and oftentimes, these fears work against us without us really knowing it.  Many work their fingers to the bone and set unbelievably high goals for themselves because they actually harbor a great fear of failure.  By setting immensely high goals for themselves, instead of actually bolstering themselves to reach these phenomenally high goals, they instead serve to ensure their own failure.  High goals are great morale drivers, but setting them at too high a level is only setting the stage for sure-fire failure.  A peculiarity of this is that there are also those who work themselves into a frenzy trying to reach their goals, only to be denied by it by a deep-seated fear, this time of success.  Peculiar in itself, the fear of success is actually the fear of the perceived things that come with success, such as higher expectations, unwanted attention, and other such perceptions.  These fears, although polar opposites, are both exceedingly effective in creating failure specifically because they are not acknowledged as fears, so those who have them don’t even know what hit them.

Spreading too thinly

Just like other grand things, goals also tend to beget other goals, or at least the development of it.  It’s so easy to fall into that bad habit of starting on something else even before one particular task is done, particularly if the previous task is something that isn’t so difficult to begin with, thus creating the thinking that everything else is just as easy.  Before you realize it, you already have several things on your plate that all need you attention, and although you might be able to attend to them all simultaneously, it is almost a sure bet that the quality of your attention and effort on each one is compromised, leading to output that is less than top-notch, or sometimes even no output at all.

Lack of focus

Many pride themselves in being able to do things they are good at with little or no attention to the task at all, claiming they know it so well it’s already second nature to them.  Regardless of the level of proficiency or familiarity a person may have with something, it’s not very likely that the end product will be excellent or even good if no attention or focus is given while in the process of creating it.  Many think that because they have done something enough times that they have created some sort of “muscle memory” in them that will let them do the process without them really paying much attention to it, leaving them to focus on something else.  Not only is this quite foolish, depending on what particular task you are doing, this can even even be downright hazardous or dangerous.  Stunt people, for example, regardless of the fact that they have the entire thing down to a science, including the timing and “rolling with the punches” that foes with it all, puts in their entire concentration and focus when doing one such stunt, so as not only to ensure it comes out correctly, but also to make sure that they do not suffer great bodily harm due to a failure.

True and trustworthy timetable

When laying out the plans for a timetable, one must always remember that this is yet another instance where it is of the utmost importance you are completely honest.  There is no problem in creating a timetable or projection of accomplishment that seems to be a bit on the tight side, but one must also consider if it really is physically possible to finish it in the projected time frame.  The clients of those who happen to doing contracted work would love nothing else than to see a projected completion date on your timetable that reads the shortest time possible, but this should never be the case if quality of the work is sacrificed just so it could meet an impossibly short deadline.  Create a timetable that is favorable both for you, taking into account preparation, actual work period, and enough time to go over the work for quality check, and for the client as well, taking into account their desire to see the entire thing done in the shortest time possible.

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