How to avoid failure and criticism

Firstly, thank you to everyone who provided feedback to my first blog post.

As a brand new blog, I was expecting to be blogging into a black hole for a while, so I was pleasantly surprised that finding an itch to scratch resonated with your own experiences.

Please keep the feedback coming, it’s fantastic to read your comments and hear your stories.

The great procrastination

In my previous article I described a longing to explore new things, “A feeling deep down there is more out there to do”. That nagging feeling that you really should be doing something else. 

The holocaust survivor and philosopher Victor Frankl referred to this feeling as ‘Sunday neurosis’, as it’s a feeling that pops up as you anticipate the week ahead on a Sunday afternoon. Or maybe on return from holiday before the busyness of work and life takes over.

But why are these thoughts and not action? 

What I’ve been struggling to get my head around, is that I’m an action oriented person. I don’t think anyone that knows me well would call me a procrastinator, yet I’ve been guilty of dawdling over taking the leap of faith and trying to find what I really want to do. Prior to starting this blog this month I’ve been thinking about doing something for about a decade. 

Another reason for the great procrastination is that I don’t know what the heck it is I’m supposed to be doing. If the answer landed in my lap, maybe I would have taken action. Taking some time out to explore has been liberating and I’ll describe this process further on future updates.  

So, today I just wanted to explore the thoughts that are going through my head, and the feelings that go with it, as my way of trying to explain what is going on.

Maybe a bloke in his mid-forties is not supposed to be sharing fluffy stuff about “feelings”, but bollocks to it. Here we go. My hope is that it might resonate with you and inspire action. 

Poor little spoiled brat 

The very first thing that springs to mind is that I feel very lucky to have the breathing space to be able to think about this when many people can’t.

I sleep well at night knowing that I’ve worked bloody hard over the last decade building businesses from scratch into such a state that I can take a step back and work part-time. 

But there is a nagging feeling that you are a poor little spoiled brat. Poor little snowflake who can’t cope with a perfectly good career and must go looking for something else. You’ve got a job and some people haven’t, so why don’t you just get on with it. 

Fur lined ruts 

There is also the innate way in which your brain is wired, especially as you get older. 

I’m in my mid-forties. I’ve done ok for myself and provided for my family. You find yourself in a rut, a fur lined relatively comfortable rut, and it can be very difficult to push through the inertia and make a change.

Somebody I was chatting with recently called it the “Curse of comfort and competence”. That is, if you are good at something, even if you don’t love it, and perhaps it provides a comfortable living, it’s very easy to keep on doing it. 

There is also social pressure, whether you are conscious of it or not. There is part of your personality, your identity, tied to what you do, your work, your hobbies, projects and passions. Friends, family and other people that are important to you associate you with that role.  

There is a fear of failure and social pressure of being ostracised by your group because you’ve taken a perfectly good job and abandoned it to go and do something else.

Just thoughts

But all of this is just thoughts. 

After all things are considered, and the reason I’m writing this down, is because I believe if you can identify it, you can squash it and move past it. 

All sorts of resistance pops up when you are considering change, insecurity as you step away from the comfort blanket of what you know, but you’ve just got to embrace it and smash through it.

I might not be doing the right thing. There are no guarantees. But in the long run I know that I will be able to look my kids in the eye and say that I gave it a shot. I didn’t settle. Even if it goes tits up, I gave it a shot. 

How to avoid failure and criticism

I drew the image below about a decade ago. Ironic that it describes staying in your rut and it’s taken me 10 years to use it! 

In summary – to avoid failure, don’t take risks. Stay in your rut. To avoid criticism, simply stay put and do what others expect of you.

How to avoid failure and criticism

If you are going through a similar process, or things are holding you back, reach out and say hello. I think it’s good to explore these things because once you’ve identified them, you can ignore them and stop procrastinating! 

One thought on “How to avoid failure and criticism”

  1. Fantastic Martin; a truly powerful sharing.

    You’re definitely giving it a shot and I think many will relate to ‘Sunday neurosis’.

    Keep exploring your mind…

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