If your goal's lying in the weeds, it's never too late to re-start it and be your own hero after all. Here's how.
Chances are it's fear of failure (or a similarly unwelcome emotion) that stopped you.
That would be why 91% of people fail at goals.
But if you could handle the suck of not knowing how you will succeed, until you do... If you were OK with failing hard and often and feeling disappointed... then wouldn't that change the game?
Learn how to tough it out here. This will be your new goal-smashing superpower!
Be in the 9% who win at goals.
FREE Goals Made Easy Video Tips
Ep#10 Maximise the virtue cycle of love and minimise the negative cycle of fear
Ep#16 Why most goals fail and 6 things you must do to succeed with yours
Ep#62 Goals #3 Failing gracefully
Ep#77 Confidence to surpass your previous best
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Dex (00:00:09) - Hi everyone. My name is Dex Randall and this is the Burnout to Leadership podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello my friends, this is Dex and I am pleased to be here today speaking to you about fear of failure. Everybody's favorite thing. Because at this stage in January, if you have a New Year's resolution or goal, statistically you've already given up and you're probably being pretty mean to yourself on that subject. But of course, it's never too late to restart a goal for you to be your own hero after all. So let's examine why most people give up really. And by the way, did you know that 79% of women and 66% of men set New Year's resolutions? 92% of Gen Z, 68% of Gen X, 52% of boomers. So fascinating . Are we to conclude that boomers are a bit cynical and jaded? So 23% of people in New Year's resolutions will quit in their first week, 43% by the end of January, and there's a 9% overall success rate.
Dex (00:01:24) - So let's talk about today how you can get in that 9% if you're not there right now. You just need to be in that 9%. Nothing flashy. Just keep going until you did it. So the elements of success, and I started talking about this in last week's episode. Number one, choose the right goal for you. Number two, get motivated. And the top three New Year's goals I see are eat healthy, get fit, lose weight. Ring a bell for anybody? Number three, cut your goal into small pieces so it's not overwhelming. And action those small pieces. Number four take small action every day, preferably early in the day, to get it done. Then reward every tiny win to keep yourself going. Keep yourself motivated. And lastly, handle your fear of failure, your fear of judgment, and your fear of the unknown. We all fear change, right? It's a given. So work smarter with your fear. And here's how. So let's say you've got a great goal and you broke it down into daily tasks and put them on your calendar.
Dex (00:02:31) - So you start off feeling puffed up about it. Perhaps you've got some motivation. As long as that doesn't come from self-blame, like losing weight often does. And maybe you tried a couple of times to take those first tasks on your calendar, to take some action, but perhaps it was a little bit hard and unpleasant. Perhaps you had some resistance and suddenly you were too busy, tired, irritated to go again. So you skipped a day, then two days, and then you felt bad and gave up. And then if that happened, maybe you felt relieved that you don't have to try anymore, but also a little bit mad at yourself. So if it was a goal that you weren't really invested in, never mind. It might have been a 'should' anyway. A lot of people have New Year's resolutions that are shoulds and shoulds have a terrible track record as goals. Genuine motivation is really lacking, usually in a should. But if, for example, you want to grow your business in 2024.
Dex (00:03:34) - or whatever year you're in, if you're listening to this later, it's probably too important to abandon. So let's talk about rescue. Let's find a way to stimulate your engagement, action and progress on your goal. So it begins to feel good to you, when you start to do things you thought you couldn't. And this generates a good feeling, a little bit of confidence or excitement or delight. And that generates a little bit of momentum. And you're on your way to making these new habits. I guess the biggest way to keep your motivation going on a goal is to enjoy it, to enjoy the process, to reward yourself for it, to make each step as much fun as you can, to celebrate your wins. It's all carrot and no stick. And you'll find carrot, no stick is much, much easier than terrorizing and blaming yourself. I really promise you that's true. So to get started, of course, make it easy and quick to get your first wins to get your motivation up right at the beginning.
Dex (00:04:39) - Start to build a tiny new habit that you can grow. Because remember, we don't start big on a goal. Have you ever tried to start a campfire? So you're out in the bush. You've got no fuel. Let's say you've only got two matches, and you just collect up a few leaves and twigs, and you're really looking forward to getting some burgers on and having something to eat. So the only way to get that fire going is to start tiny, with tiny little twigs, maybe a little handful of dry grass or leaves. And when it catches, you blow very gently on it, and then you gradually start adding more leaves or more twigs until the fire is burning strongly enough to put bigger branches on. And starting a goal is the same. It's basically starting a new habit. So don't put your 1 or 2 little matches to a whole tree and think it's going to work out. Start with tiny habits and let them build over time. As you create more and more confidence and trust in yourself, more wins and more enjoyment of the process.
Dex (00:05:50) - And of course, that enjoyment of the process will depend largely on how much love you give to your efforts and yourself, whether or not each individual task is immediately successful. As you begin your tiny habit, this is probably what's going to happen. If you've started on your goal, see if this sounds a bit like you. So the daily task comes up on your schedule. You think about taking action and then you start telling yourself it won't work, you don't know how to do it, you're going to look stupid for failing. Then you feel bad about that right away, and you spend a great deal of time faffing about, basically thinking more thoughts about how it won't work. Time passes and you tell yourself it's now too late to start, so then you distract yourself with something else. Check your phone, pretend to do some research, and then it's over. It's over. You're gone. So that process was really a description of fear in action. And as I said last week, don't let the gremlins of your fears really take hold so tightly that they prevent you making progress on your goal. You have control over that.
Dex (00:07:07) - So if you haven't been asserting that control and you've let your goal go, let's run it back in. Let's start again. Because you very likely WILL feel fear when you're chasing a goal. But so what? Fear, at base, is just a bunch of sensations you experience in your body. They're just energy passing through you. You don't need to react to the sensations. You don't need to run away or tell yourself any bad stories about the fear, because fear can't actually affect you if you don't react to it. Fear of failure, of course, is usually a projection about the future. It's usually nothing too bad happening right now, or nothing very much at stake right now in this moment. So here's a practice for you, if you fear failure, judgment, embarrassment, humiliation, shame, or whatever it is. The process is good to to work with any emotion that you're trying to avoid. Because the only way you can stay on a task when you have this negative emotion, such as fear or anxiety, that you would like to avoid, the only way you can stay on task when that's happening is to stop avoiding the feeling.
Dex (00:08:22) - You just have to stop and feel the feeling. Because when you feel the emotion and accept it being there, you basically letting off the pressure and suddenly you won't be afraid of that feeling and getting on with the task really becomes non-threatening, easy, acceptable. You'll be able to actually start and get going on it. And all of that hinges on being willing to feel your own negative emotions. If you want to make your goal progress a ton easier. If you want to restart yourself on your goal, try this. Step one. Anticipate it. Think to yourself, okay, I'm going to look at the goal task on my schedule in a moment because it's time to start that task now. And perhaps I'm going to panic, feel a bit threatened or anxious or queasy or whatever. Before I even look at the task, I'll compose myself calmly. I'll take a big, deep breath. Center myself, ready to look at the task. And then step two is plan for it.
Dex (00:09:30) - Okay, here's what's going to happen if a feeling comes up that I'd like to avoid. I'm going to gently pay attention to that feeling. I'm going to stay present to it with a complete absence of self-judgment or self-blame. Just with a compassion and acceptance. Without trying to change anything about the feeling. I'll calmly observe the sensations that arise in my body and simply let them be. I'll breathe deeply. I'll follow my breath down through my body to see what sensations I'm aware of. Where they are, what they feel like. And maybe the qualities of them the vibration, density, weight, color, shape. I would just notice them. I'll notice everything I can about them. And this, of course, this practice, for those of you who meditate, is the practice of Vipassana meditation, where we focus on the thoughts and feelings that we have in order to accept them and not be thrown into this whirlwind of negative responses to them. Vipassana is a method of self-transformation through self observation. It's very powerful because if you can remain non-reactive to your own thoughts and emotions, then you've mastered yourself completely and the world is your oyster.
Dex (00:11:00) - So we cultivate this practice here and you can try it with me now if it's safe for you to be still and quiet and self-reflective. If you're not, for example, driving a car or minding children. And it can be helpful to to turn off your phone or put it on silent first. You can assume your favorite meditation posture if you like, but just keep your schedule visible nearby. Or you can just simply sit quietly, relaxed but upright, with some dignity and bearing, and take a couple of really good deep breaths to start off, to really ground yourself. And then once you've done that, say in your mind, you don't need to say it out loud, okay, I'm ready. I promise that I will simply observe whatever feeling arises. Now, look at that goal task on your schedule that you find a bit daunting or scary, or just see it in your mind's eye if you like. And notice your reaction to it. Let that reaction happen.
Dex (00:12:09) - Shut your eyes if you prefer, and take your attention inside of your body and keep breathing gently. And as you breathe in, follow the passage of your breath into your mouth. Down your throat, your chest. Your abdomen. Your guts. And as you pay attention to that breath and to your body, remember to think about your task. Keep thinking about your task as you do this, because that will bring up the feelings, the ones you're trying to avoid. So keep breathing. Keep thinking about your task and notice the sensations that come up in your body. Where can you detect those sensations associated with that thought and how you feel? Can you find tension, vibration or movement in your body? Can you find stiffness or pain or blockage? And if you can. Where is it in your body? And what is its shape, size, density, temperature, color or weight? Simply observe all of that without trying to change it and offer it your compassionate acceptance. Because it's okay to have this feeling.
Dex (00:13:33) - It can't harm you. You're just a human having a feeling. Notice also, if you are trying to judge it with your thoughts, listen to the thoughts that come into your mind. Notice if you have an aversion to it. If you'd like not to pay attention to it. If you have an urge to escape. Notice the story you tell yourself in your mind about all of that, and then simply relax back again into the sensations and keep breathing calmly into and through those sensations. Keep observing them. And you can do this even if the feeling is panic and it feels maybe hot, restless, urgent or desperate. Stay connected with your breath. And if that feels panicky too, notice how you can gently slow the breath. You can breathe. It's still just sensations in your body. You can hold them in your kind attention. They will pass. So maintain the attention on your sensations. Gently. Breathing. Allowing. Accepting. Being gentle with yourself about everything that you find. You may notice as you do this that your sensations change as you observe them.
Dex (00:14:57) - They might move, they might become less intense or change in quality. They may start to dissipate. Because emotions when they're not resisted disperse in around 90 seconds through the body. If that's happening for you, if you detect any change, or maybe even if you didn't, particularly if this is your first time trying this. But once you're done, you can open your eyes. Return your attention to the room and just breathe normally. Take a moment to compliment yourself on your willingness to be there, to try this exercise, and to work with your own emotions. And just ask yourself then how do you feel right now once you've finished? Do you feel perhaps a little bit less urgent, a bit less restless? Agitated? Do you feel less stressed or less anxious? Perhaps a little bit more relaxed. Or perhaps you've had a little emotional release. Perhaps you have tears or sighs or yawns. How is your energy? Just check in with yourself about the quality of your energy now. Whatever your experience is, that's okay.
Dex (00:16:11) - If you practice this each time you're about to start a goal task, each time you see it there on your schedule. Experiment with it. How does this affect your energy, your feelings, your thoughts? Your willingness to do the task? How does it affect any self-judgment you may have had? How does this affect your confidence? Because that exercise, my friend, when repeated regularly, is how you will befriend your own emotions instead of running away from them. And if you do that, you're going to diminish your avoidance and of course, addictive behaviors, which are also avoidance. You're going to feel more at home in your body. You're going to free up a lot of energy that you've been using to fight with your emotions. It also means that over time you will have less fear of fear, or fear of anxiety, or fear of doubt, or fear of humiliation. Each time, when you repeat this exercise, you're going to relax about your human experience of it. So really, you're going to have less fear of any emotion that prevents you taking action on your goals.
Dex (00:17:26) - That's what we're doing, right? Because goals by definition need us to do new things, to develop new skills, and that does ignite our natural fear of change. So this process you're going through here, working with your emotions. Anybody who was chasing a goal would need to do that. And working skillfully with our own doubts and fears. It's how we stay on track with the goal and how we allow ourselves to be in the unknown on a goal for long enough to achieve it. Because the reason we derail any goal is always because we don't like how we feel or how we expect to feel when we're working on it. The worst thing that can happen is always a feeling. If you're willing to fail, you can always make goal progress. So practice, especially on days when your emotions are up, when you feel anxious or queasy or uncertain. And if practicing this exercise for two minutes each time gives you mastery of your emotional experience, then it's a terrifically economical way to keep your goal on track, isn't it? So that's what I got for you today.
Dex (00:18:44) - My friends, thank you so much for listening. Go practice. And if you're in burnout, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance, leadership, and success. And most of all, enjoyment
Dex (00:18:58) - Inside work and out. You can book an appointment at dexrandall.com.
Dex (00:19:03) - If you enjoyed this episode, please help me reach more people in burnout by rating and reviewing the podcast. I really do appreciate your support. And if you know someone else who's heading towards or in burnout.
Dex (00:19:15) - Please send them the podcast link. It's packed, as you know, with practical tips for burnout recovery.
Dex (00:19:21) - I recommend that new people listen to the first five episodes to get started.