The Last Time You Didn’t Get What You Want

Drawing of a figure on a road with obstacles along the path including a rock, a road sign, and burning trees

The Hidden Road Towards Great Failure

Are you failing?

What would your gut instinct answer with?

Maybe that’s too broad of a question. Are you currently in the middle of something—in the weeds as some call it—and are stuck? No matter what you do, things keep popping up, getting in your way.

Maybe progress isn’t moving as fast as you’d like. Perhaps you’re trying to land a job. You know you’re going to get one eventually, there’s a high chance, but nothing has come up in the past months.

In essence, have you ever set out to achieve something and couldn’t see it through?

Failing to get what you want without knowing it

These struggling experiences are what everybody faces but only a few manage to escape. It’s a topic we need to explore, bring to the forefront, if we’re ever going to find a way out. For many of us, “hitting a wall” causes us to lose our senses and act irrationally. Wouldn’t you characterize yourself that way during those times? Few would admit to it but it happens. Think back to the last project that didn’t turn out as expected. How would you describe your overall movements?

It’s just that at times you dig yourself deep into the trenches, deep into trying to reach your goal, that you lose perspective and find yourself way off course. Imagine walking and, at the same time, staring at a map only a few centimeters away from your nose. How likely are you to reach your destination like that?

Unfortunately, it’s this low awareness, rather this state of ignorance, that makes a difference. What happens is you no longer see whether you’re on the road to failure or not. A dangerous, but sadly, recurring course. You keep pushing forward thinking motion will solve everything but it doesn’t.

And so if you know you’re driving off course, you’d at least have the chance to react. Make changes. Alter your destination.

“Hold on one minute, Steve. This is ridiculous. How can I know if I’m about to fail before it actually happens?”, you ask.

Between the time you decide to do something and the point where you finally fall short, there are secret omens.

“Give me a break”, you blurt out.

Keep shaking your head. You think not obtaining the rewards of your goal is the only penalty of failure but I tell you it’s not true.

The longer you don’t reach your objective, the more punishment you’ll go through, signs that scream, “You are crumbling”. It is these clues that should alert you whether you are in danger or not.

Secret signs you miss along the way that no one utters

The quiet shrinking days

Let me ask you: Do you feel like there’s not enough time in the day? You initially put aside 5 hours for your dream and, nonetheless, that, over time, became 6, 7, or even 8 hours. Before you know it, that’s all you’re doing the entire day. Your other activities? Postponed. Fun time? Gone. You may not even be fully aware of this until I mentioned it.

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say you’re likely in the same room staring at the same set of papers or computer screen.

Do you also find yourself avoiding openly talking about what you are doing? In the beginning you told everyone about your ambitions. Perhaps

  • “I’m going to college X”
  • “I’m opening my own restaurant”
  • “I’ll find a better job”
  • “I’m on the way to being a track star”
  • “Say goodbye to my belly fat everybody”
  • “I’ll make family a bigger part of my life”

With things not looking good months later, you shrink to a puppy with its tail between its legs. “Why bother talking about dreams if I’m gonna flop anyway. Better to save myself from embarrassment”, you think.

When family or friends inquire on why you’re not done yet, you start putting on a smile and lie that you’re right on track. You offer any reasonable explanation that you can come up with but afterwards, for a brief moment, you question your reply. You don’t truly believe it but you don’t give it further thought.

Who dares touch and grab your attention?

Another flag you could pass through is that of irritation. This is a phase where somehow any little thing stirs you up. Because deep down you know you’re not making headway, you take out your anger on others. You may even carry the following invisible labels on your back:

  • snappy attitude
  • argumentative
  • distant
  • angry all the time

And that’s not who you really are! Or at least, what you want to be known for. Everybody seems to catch you at the worst times. You find yourself reacting and immediately regretting what you’ve done. Unfortunately, when people interact with you, what else can they conclude?

How are giving up & procrastination any different?

Of course, that’s one aspect. Despite with what seems like hours focusing on your success, it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. Nor do you expect it to change soon.

I ask you though, have you ever done nothing? And by that I mean either literally or in the sense of doing everything except that which moves you closer to your goal. Do you find yourself unconsciously

  • Playing more video games?
  • Hanging out with your friends all the time?
  • Watching more ‘unmissable’ TV shows?
  • Checking out Facebook every minute?
  • Chugging down unusual, even for yourself, volumes of alcohol?
  • Learning excessively on how to achieve what you want?

In other words, more crafty ways to delay the actual work. You honestly didn’t plan the distraction, it just somehow happens. And even while distracted, you are constantly thinking about what you should be doing. A distraction while you’re distracted. Isn’t that funny?

The best way to think of this is one day leaving milk on the table and then striking up a conversation with a friend outside. You are now doing two things:

  1. One is passively listening.
  2. The other is suppressing a thought. A reminder that is pinching and yelling, “The milk. The milk. Don’t forget the milk.”

In times when you should be relaxing, pressure is building. This self-nagging never quits. To a degree, you can consider this going crazy.

Ultimately, if it gets down to it, your progress is placed on standby. Have you ever done this before? You convince yourself that you haven’t given up but, if you check your actions, you’re no longer pursuing the finish line. You find that months have passed with little to show and you’re left wondering, “What ever happened to that thing I was going after? It almost feels like ages ago.”

What does my life falling apart have to do with anything?

Maybe what I’ve mentioned thus far are all foreign experiences to you. In that case, allow me to ask you another question: How are you doing elsewhere? Are you constantly fighting with your significant other and family? Would you classify your 9–5 job as frustrating too? Are you feeling down most days? Are you going out and meeting people less and less? Would you say the other things you’re working on are failing as well? Put succinctly, is just about everything in your life going wrong?

Sometimes while suffering in one area of your life, that baggage spills over onto another, then the next, and then the rest. It becomes a snowball effect. All of a sudden you think you have the “touch of failure”. So if you’re blind to the struggles in your current situation, it would be wise to notice if it’s a plague elsewhere.

The good in the bad you need to know

Now, for some of you, the frustrations mentioned today are eerily familiar. However, I’d argue not familiar enough! The key to anything is recognizing where you are. For without this knowledge, by definition, you are lost. You’re either on the path to success or you’re not. For all you know, you may be on quicksand and no amount of leg movement will save you.

When it comes to crashing and burning, there’s good and bad news. The bad news is these frustrations will hit hard and often the longer you don’t reach your goal. The good news is if you can begin recognizing these signals for what they really are, you’ll pick up on the warnings and change course.

I don't know. Sometimes it feels like my writing & thoughts are way off. Who knows if it'll help anyone or if it means anything.

Written by Steve Villaverde