Is your goal to have a complete picture of everything you did that caused you to misstep? Or is it to improve your performance next time?

Don’t be seduced by the temptation to dissect your latest failure down to its bowels and then beat yourself up for the collapse of your grand plans. Keep in mind the outcome you want – an even better performance next time. To achieve this end you do need to take a clear eyed look at your performance, which will include your failings and weaknesses. And then you need to scan for evidence of strengths you can build on.

The balance of your time, attention and interest needs to be on how you might improve your next performance and that is about “If only I had” rather than “If only I hadn’t.” By looking at what you might do differently you’re ready to notice new solutions, to be more open to new ways of thinking and to start to move toward success rather than to get stuck in critical self-flagellation.

Take three steps:

1.    Review your actions and attitude that accompanied the breakdown
2.    Consider what you might have done differently to produce a success
3.    Practice the new action and attitude before they’re needed

In order to be an effective coach for yourself in the heat of your next disappointment, prepare a simple coaching prompt that encourages you to keep looking forward. Think about the situation where you might use a prompt and practice saying it until you are sure it will remind you of exactly what you need to do.

•    The coaching prompt might be – “If only I had”
•    Use it when you feel yourself getting caught by feelings of self-recrimination, disappointment or discouragement.
•    “If only I had” “If only I had” – “I need to let the failure go and think about what I could have done differently.”

Practice can of course be actual physical, out-loud verbal or visualization and internal. Remember, if you recently failed to achieve what you think was a realistic goal, in the process you practiced an ineffective action or approach. So you will be ready to use it automatically next time, you need to invest some time practicing a different approach.

Often having a coach to practice with makes all the difference. We’re here to help.

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