Dealing with failure (and how to treat it like an experiment)

In my last post, I talked about dealing with embarassment. This week, I’m talking about dealing with failure when it comes to promoting yourself and your products or services online.

A huge reason people don’t put themselves out there and allow themselves to be more visible online is because they’re worried they’re going to fail.

I totally get that.

It could be that you put a post out and it gets no likes or no one on clicks it.

Your book is published and doesn’t sell as many copies as you’d like. 

You launch some kind of product or service, and nobody signs up.

It’s not fun. 

The fear of failure can be quite debilitating. If it’s stopping you from showing up as your full self online or from launching the things in the way you want to, I hope these tips can help.

These are three things I have been doing to kind of stop myself feeling so afraid of it. I still get the fear a lot! But these steps allow me to mitigate the fear and work alongside it.

Plan to fail

I actually actively plan to fail which sounds really negative when you put it like that. But it really can help.

When I’m launching something, I try to imagine three levels of how it will go. 

First: what’s the best, most amazing outcome? What would make me feel like I’ve won the lottery? I try to really visualise this, and how it will make me feel.

Next, I think about what I would be happy with – so, what level of sales I would confortably feel good about. 

And finally, I think about what the absolute worst-case scenario is. 

So, if something that I put out there is not hitting any notes with anybody, what will I do about it then? Will I change tactics? Would I want to cancel or postpone the launch? If I cancel it, what are my other options to earn that money?

Planning for failure might seem negative, but it means I have a back-up plan before I even start.

Once I have the back-up plan sorted, I head back to step number one and focus on allllll the good vibrations.

Treat it like an experiment

Treating what you are doing like an experiment can be helpful, because then it’s all about being agile and doing the kind of test-and-learn thing.

Put stuff out there, see what works, what doesn’t work and then iterate from there. 

If one strategy isn’t working for you, what else could you try? Mess about with the copy you use. Is there a different way you could talk about it to help people see why they are going to love whatever it is you are selling? Could you try different images and see which connect better with people?

If something you do IS working for you, how can you do more of it?

I’ve started keeping a launch journal to track the things I do, how they work and also how I FEEL when I do them. This has been so helpful in terms of honing my strategy, and remembering what I want to do more or less of in the next launch.

Detach from the Outcome

To be able to think about failure and treat your launch like an experiment, you need to detach from the outcome. 

So – I’ve thought about what I want to feel if I hit my ideal sales goal from something, and I’ve thought about my back up plan. And then I just need to let those things go and focus on the ‘doing’. I follow the steps in my plan, rejig things if I need to and celebrate my successes. But I also try to recognise that the end result does not reflect my self-worth.

This is the number one thing that I spoke to my coach about when I was working with her at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

Just because something doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that YOU are a failure. 

Saying this again, because it is SUCH an important point.

If something you put out there fails, it doesn’t mean that you, personally, are a failure. 

Separating what you do from who you are can be incredibly hard but is so important. 

Say you are about to launch your new book. In your head, the sales of that book are going to make you a set amount of income, and then, obviously, you focus on it because you really wanna make that money.

But if it doesn’t sell straight away, that can be really upsetting. Firstly, because it means you won’t be earning as much as you thought, but secondly because you can take it really personally. The book has flopped, so I’m a flop.

When you feel that way, marketing tends to go one way or the other.

Either you stop promoting yourself completely or you start to feel a bit desperate in what you are doing and taking actions that you might not normally take.

Whereas if you see it as an issue with your metadata or your messaging, maybe you could change the imagery you’re using or do some more outreach – it becomes a challenge you can address, rather than some kind of internal flaw to beat yourself up with.

If this is something you struggle with, I really, really recommend finding a good business coach to work with, as it has made an ENORMOUS difference to my mindset.

Find someone to talk to about it

If you feel like something you are doing is going to fail, or has already failed, find someone to talk to about it before you get into a cycle of negative self-talk. Our brains can be brilliantly creative, but can also be extremely unhelpful at times!

I work with a co-mentor and will definitely hire another coach in the future. It means I have someone to brainstorm with, to message when I’m feeling stuck, and to get feedback from when I’m launching something new.

I also talk to my co-mentor about when things don’t go to plan. She helps me to look at things more positively, and I hope I do the same for her, too.

So, while it’s okay to wallow and feel sad when something doesn’t live up to your expectations – of course it is, don’t wallow forever.

Find a business or author friend who understands the trials and tribulations of putting yourself out there. Find a coach or mentor to work with to develop your mindset and improve your strategies for next time. Find a therapist if you think you need some deeper emotional support.

There are so many people that are out there for you to lean on for support, you just need to find the right person and then ask for help.

How do you deal with it when things don’t go according to plan or a launch falls flat on its face? Leave me a comment below, or get in touch on Twitter or Instagram.

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How to deal with failure


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