Writer, Advisor + Consultant

How to Overcome an Epic Fail:

10 years ago I met Rob in one of my yoga classes. Recently when I saw him he asked me: “Did you read about my fail?” He was referring to his radical diet regime he started months ago. “Those 90 days I spent on the mutant diet, and exercising like crazy—well, all I have to show for it is 10 pounds lost.”

After 3 months of dedicated effort and a goal of losing 40 pounds he missed the mark. In his eyes all the effort and time was a fail.

In my eyes, my first thought was: Hold up. You’re energy is up, your blood pressure is down, you’re healthier and happier overall, who cares about the number?

But that’s the thing – we tie ourselves down to a finite result. Whether it’s the number on the scale, the revenue brought in last month, or how many likes we got on social media, we tend to pass over the meaningful markers and fixate on whether we hit the spot we wanted to reach.

Recently I read an article by Alexandra Franzen where she talked about this in her piece “When your project just doesn’t take off.” When you put in hours of time of dedicated effort into creating something and it just doesn’t work out the way you expected.

It feels deflating. But that’s because we had a microscopic idea of what success would look like.

What we miss in our desire to get what we wanted is the gift that we got.

There is a gift in everything if you turn the light on and see what you did get.

Recently I didn’t get the book deal I dreamed of. Hundreds of hours of dedicated work, editing, and then, learning how to write a proper submission letter, and taking the time to write and edit it. I waited patiently for 12 weeks. I prayed everyday. The 12 weeks passed without a word. In the publishing world that means no deal.

In my eyes: Epic Fail. I tell a friend and her gut response is “What!? The mere fact you can write like that is amazing. I wish I could write a book!”

And then from a pre-reader I never met gave me this review: “Even though I am not a “business” person, I find that your “7 spiritual principles” goes to the core of the human spirit. You write the words that can make me a better person. Thank you for enlightening my mind… my spirit” –John Chavez

I didn’t get what I wanted, but I still received a gift in another form: A review that surprised me and touched me.

We may not get what we want, but there is still a return from our work and dedication.

To my friend Rob—he didn’t achieve what he hoped for, but the stamina, perseverance and mental toughness gained from following through on any goal is the gift. And it’s inspiring to others to see someone commit to such a high-intensity exercise routine.

Plus, for my friend Rob, and myself: jut because you don’t hit your aspiration on the first go doesn’t mean it’s over.

There’s always Take 2.

There’s always a way to re-vamp the diet and stay committed.

There’s always another publishing house you can submit too.

There’s always another sale you can put on, or offering you can create, or new line of work you can dive into to hit your goals and feel fulfilled.

There are always more options—as long as you don’t let the heaviness of feeling deflated stop you. Instead you can use the Epic Fail as an opportunity to Explore Your Options.

It’s in the moment of a fail that you need to decide what you really want.

The fail helps you decide what you’re truly committed to, and what you’ll do next.

There’s always a way to move forward from your epic fail, as long as you can see the gift you did get and then reaffirm and re-decide how you’ll move forward towards what you desire.

It’s also important to honour how you feel. After an Epic Fail it’s common to need a time-out. Use this time as an opportunity to take a break from the yang energy of GO and invite the Yin energy of rest. This way we can recharge from a place of newfound energy and move forward with greater wisdom.

Have you recently experienced your own version of an epic-fail? Share in the comments – but make sure you also share the good that did come out of it too!

Even if it’s as simple as the fact that you were brave enough to take that step towards your goal. That alone is rare. So many people stop before they start because they are afraid of experiencing the epic fail.

But once you go through it you grow. As Nate Carr says “Don’t go through something—Grow through something”

Sometimes you need the epic fail to grow forward to your epic success. Every step takes you further and builds your character. Plus along the way, you never know who you may touch and what miracle will manifest from your time and effort.

I’ll love to hear YOUR story in the comments.

Love Tova

Need support moving forward? Check out The Clarity Session—it’s like a massage for your spirit: letting go of the gunk so that you can move forward with clarity, energy, and ease. Click here for the details. 

5 comments… add one
  • Heather July 8, 2016,

    How perfectly timely. I am in the midst of facing my own failures, and while I have always tried to take this approach, too many failures in a row, have put me into a life situation that makes it really really hard to appreciate the benefits – not losing all the weight you want is one thing, but repeated business failure that have eaten up all of your savings and completely taken away the life you want – can really only be “appreciated” for so long…. so I am probably too close to the trees to see the forest, but thanks for the encouragement and reminder to keep trudging through. To keep trying. Thanks!

    • Tova Payne July 8, 2016,

      Hi Heather.
      I agree. Your words have the wisdom: “Repeated business failure that have eaten up all of your savings and completely taken away the life you want – can really only be “appreciated” for so long….”
      Sometimes the lesson in the failure is teaching us when it’s time to say goodbye to something that isn’t working and move forward onto something else.
      Hopefully there are other valuable insights and lessons that you can take forward to the next career/business move….But when the bumps in the road are too much — sometimes the message from the fail is to get on a new road…Ultimately your wisdom and intuition will guide you on which way to go.
      Wishing you the best as you navigate this….
      Sending you good energy

  • monique July 7, 2016,

    Hi Tova! Thanks for another insightful blog post. I’ve recently experienced an epic fail and much like Rob, I couldn’t see the benefits at the time.

    Over the last 6 months I have furiously held onto my peace of mind as the non-profit I have worked with for 22 years has been going through major restructuring. Our beloved Executive Director retired last fall. Four of my six co-workers were laid-off and their jobs eliminated. Long standing support and educational programs have been reduced or outright cancelled. I have been reeling from all the loss and change; I ended up taking a 2-month sabbatical in an attempt to make sense of this epic fail.

    I’m just a little over half-way through my sabbatical and I am completely excited about what’s in store. Perhaps it’s more loss at my job – there will certainly be change. I am excited because I have spent these last few weeks building a website and refining my vision for what I want to offer with my vocation. I’m building a new business and moving in a new direction that actually draws on many themes and roles I’ve explored throughout my life. Epic fail? For sure. But it’s all worked out just fine.

    Thanks for giving me opportunity to share Tova.

    • Tova Payne July 8, 2016,

      Hi Monique!

      Thank you so much for sharing. I feel your words here will help many.
      And your new website is gorgeous 🙂

      Thanks for sharing to the inspiration,


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