FAIL FORWARD – Self-Motivation For When The Going Gets Tough

By: Diana Dizoglio

Diana Dizoglio
Diana Dizoglio

One hopes that tough times will produce humility, strength of character, and eventually growth and change. As anyone who has faced a challenge knows, however, this process is A LOT easier said than done.

When you are faced with losing your home, your car is broken down and you’ve lost your job–how are you supposed to stay positive and just believe that you will have the strength to persevere? I am far from having this figured out, but I have been pushed recently to deeply consider this question.

As I sat on the couch in my best friend’s apartment, I thought about my 93 Honda Civic that had finally just died on me. I thought about the fact that I had just lost my job; my rapidly depleting bank account; and the fact that I had been getting almost no callbacks from jobs I had applied to.

I thought about my education and how I had worked so hard to get my degree. I thought about the worried looks on my Nana’s face concerning my wellbeing. I thought about my reputation, and I thought about my health.



“God, please let this work out”, I thought to myself. “I am tired, I am broke, and for months now I have been trying my best to not completely lose it. I know you’re looking out for me as you always have, but this time it’s really hard to trust things are going to work out.”

I began to think about the motivational books that I had been reading on how adversity motivates, creates resilience, develops maturity, and can bring greater opportunities. I thought about the fact that I have been exercising like crazy just for the extra endorphins. I thought about how my church attendance has gone way up since I started going through this recent rough patch.


And then, when I thought about how much I was thinking–to the point where I was thinking about my thinking–I laughed.

I laughed at myself; I laughed at my statistically standard tendencies; I laughed at my entire situation.


I laughed at the drama that I have recently encountered. I laughed at people’s negative and positive comments; I laughed at the way that my employment situation was handled, and I laughed at the fact that I have been cleaning toilets just to make ends meet during this interim period.


Finally, I laughed.


It took me 28 years to genuinely grasp the fact that life happens and is completely and utterly unfair. So, I thought about getting angry at my unfair life … and instead; I laughed.


I know that there are many people out there facing huge economic challenges, family issues, and feelings of being the only one. There are some with crushed self-esteems, anger, frustration, and fear of failure.


In my own experience, I have found that failing is a regular part of life. Sometimes I just don’t make the cut and need to work harder. Other times, I fail because of outside factors that I can’t control. Whatever the case, I have learned that there are generally only two options to consider.


Option 1: Be a Failure


1. Focus on the problems; turn back on goals; run away from the issues; and become a bitter old lady/man.

Option 2: Fail Forward

2. Accept the current situation and use its lessons to launch you into your next success. Seek advice from successful, honest people; accept constructive criticism–and actually apply it; work wherever there is an option to work; stay active and positive about personal/professional goals.

“In order to achieve your dreams, you must embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not really moving forward.”–John Maxwell.

If you are a person of faith, say your prayers. Make anger your ally by funneling that energy into bettering yourself and working your tail off wherever you have the opportunity. Make the decision to outperform and overachieve in EVERY area of your life–not just in what benefits you. Take pride in serving others, and get involved in your community.


When life throws you a curve ball, take the bruise and get back up to bat! No apathy and no acceptance of being stuck in 2nd gear.

When you can’t get the encouragement that you want or need from others; encourage yourself! Create your own opportunities, and find a path to get out of that valley! Climbing a mountain is tough work and you don’t get to the top with weak muscles. Allow all of your failures and adversity to strengthen you for your journey upward.

Live by President Theodore Roosevelt’s words: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Think, Cry, Laugh, Grow… and FAIL FORWARD!