Plan for failure. We’ve all been there. We’ve worked hard. We’re on the cusp of success. And then it hits us–the feeling we can’t shake, the thoughts that plague our minds … The fear of failure comes knocking, and with a vengeance. It scares us to make irrational decisions; to give up before we really even try; to be so focused on what may go wrong that we lose sight of everything that could go right.
And we often give in to it. But we shouldn’t. That’s why I believe that, in some cases, planning for potential failure can actually help you succeed. I know it sounds counterintuitive but hear me out.
See, when we plan for failure, we are planning for our inevitable mistakes and mishaps. We’re allowing ourselves to think: “This is how I could go wrong. This is what I could do better next time.” And by acknowledging our mistakes and planning how to fix them, we allow ourselves to correct them before they ever happen.
At least, that’s how I see it.
How do you plan a failure?
I’m not talking about making a conscious effort to screw up and create immediate problems for yourself or a backup plan. I wouldn’t recommend that. Instead, I’d say you should allow yourself to think about what could go wrong–but do it in a way that helps you succeed in the long run.
What do I mean?
Let’s say you’re a budding entrepreneur just starting. You’ve got a good idea for some new product or service, and you’re well on your way to creating it. But something strikes you as an obstacle, and before you know it, it’s way too late to change course. You’ve made one or two tweaks to your action plan that have extended the timeline or added costs that can only be paid with more funding. Now, not only does your business or actionable plan seem unlikely to succeed, but the pressure for you to “make a splash” is great, and people are watching to see what happens.
What is this something that seems like an obstacle? It’s hard to say–you may not even know yet. But it can be anything, such as a bad investment deal or a financial crisis, or suddenly adding more responsibilities in your personal life. Whatever the reason, you feel stuck and unable to move forward.
Now, in this moment of decision, what can you do? What do you think you would do if your business plan were threatened–if someone was watching? I bet it would take a lot of time and energy to draw up a contingency plan or a pivot plan. You’d probably be constantly thinking through how you could adjust your current plans if something else went wrong. You would have planned for it.
By planning for your potential mistakes and mishaps, not only do you get to know what may happen before it ever occurs, but you also allow yourself to work around it and create new plans if that’s what is needed. It might seem like a lot of work now, but when the time comes, at least you won’t be caught off guard.
That’s just one example of how I think you can plan for failure, a self-check plan.
What is the role of failures to achieve success?
Scientists and researchers have come up with several “laws” to describe how things tend to happen. One of them is the Law of Reversed Effort, which says that when you try to move away from something–say, how you play a sport or even how you run an organization–you actually move toward it.
I’ve always liked this law because it means that you can’t successfully turn away from whatever you are trying to do. I think it fits in with my idea of planning for failure. If you plan for your failures and mishaps, you are planning for success.
What does this have to do with the Law of Reversed Effort? Everything. If you plan for failure, and you happen to succeed, you’re actually going further toward what you’ve planned for than if you tried to avoid failure. The Law of Reversed Effort shows that when we try to avoid something, we end up doing it, while if we plan for it–or even embrace it–we can eliminate those obstacles that hold us back from success with Pre-planned responses, automatic responses, and reactions.
You need to take action to achieve your difficult goals, sustain a goal-setting process and complete your plans. It would help if you worked through the friction that comes with it. And there’s no way around that, so why not plan for failure from the beginning? Why not plan for the inevitable mistakes that will come up along the way? It may seem like some defeat at first, but it’s really just an indicator that you are moving toward success.
Success often requires failure. And planning for failure can help you achieve it.
How do you face failure and success?
The answer to that question is important. It might determine whether you are successful or not.
What do I mean by success? In the context of this article, the definition of success is goal attainment, such as Academic Goals from school or setting a business goal to start and seek your own successful business. And in the context of life, success is having a good quality of life – a long and fulfilling one with all the positive emotions, life lessons, and skills development.
What do I mean by failure? Facing failure means having a bad quality of life – a short and unsatisfying one—the opposite of success.
We all face failure and success. In other words, we all have a vague goal to achieve and mastery goals to reach on our road to success. However, of those individual goals, some challenging goals are more important than others. But everyone has those less important personal goals as well – things that we decide to do but that don’t truly matter as much as the critical achievable goals that we do.
How does determination overcome failure?
You may fail a million times, but you’re going to be a success if you keep on trying. – Tom Watson
A failure is nothing more than an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. -Henry Ford
On the journey to achievement, there’s going to be a failure. Let’s face it; it’s just going to happen from time to time as part of the overall process of getting from where you are now to where you want to go.
But is that a bad thing? Do we really have to view failure as negative or as something to avoid at all costs? I say that when you look at it in another way, failure is actually a positive thing. In fact, in some cases, it’s an unavoidable part of the journey to success.
Think about it. To achieve success, there are always going to be obstacles that you need to overcome. For example, do you want to be successful in love? There will probably be trials and tribulations along the way–things that make it difficult for both you and your partner. But by learning from these things, you’ll eventually get the love life you want. And if you don’t, then at least you can say that your failure has led (or will lead) to your path to success.
Why is failure important for success?
“Successful people always keep an eye out for the opportunity to get even better. Relentless self-improvement is one of the hallmarks of true success, and it’s what separates the great from the good.” – Zig Ziglar.
One of my favorite quotes about failure comes from American musician Tom Watson: “A failure is nothing more than an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” He was right–and so are you.
If you fail to achieve your long-term goals, at least you’ll end up with something new to try. And if that’s not enough for you, think of how many times you’ve failed to achieve success in the past. You had an idea, took the time and energy to create emergency plans for it, and started working toward it. Then you realized that it wasn’t the right timing. You had other responsibilities in your life that took over and led to a different outcome.