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How to Recover From Failure and Come Back Stronger

A Brief Introduction: In order to bring all of you the most high-quality content at a quickened pace, we have decided to bring on Robert as a content creator, focusing principally on the “Think” pillar of ThinkEatLift. Robert lives in San Diego, CA, is pursuing a degree in Systems Engineering and has been a part of the company since early this year. Robert and Radu have very inline philosophies, which makes Robert a perfect fit to begin giving you all more content more often. Please welcome this new team member, we are very excited!

What you are about to read is my life’s story.

PART 1: “SWEATPANTS”

One year ago I hit rock bottom.

Before August 2, 2015 I had thought I’d hit rock bottom twice before; once when I didn’t get into any of the colleges I had wanted so badly, and the second when my pants fell down in the middle of a football game.

But mostly those moments were just embarrassing. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you find yourself in a place with no one around you, no eyes to shame, and still your self-confidence is at an all-time low.

For me that place was on the dirty bathroom floor of my brother’s Los Angeles apartment, curled in the fetal position in my Bulldog boxers with snot and tears running down my face.

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Yikes.

Just one hour earlier I had been expecting a Skype call from my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, not knowing that rock bottom was about to slap me in the face in the form of seven words…

“I want tight jeans, and you’re sweatpants.”

What the heck did she mean by that?

In what quite literally might be the most accurate metaphor of all time, she was telling me she wanted to be free, she wanted to feel sexy, I was too comfortable for her, I wasn’t as attractive as I used to be, and I was soft and squishy.

All in seven words.

Poetic Genius.

I wish I had thought of it.

To be fair she was completely right. I was complacent, I wasn’t goal-driven and I had gained an exorbitant amount of weight since my ex-girlfriend and I had first met.

“The Freshman 40” pounds. Everyone does that, right?

But let me be very clear:

Rock_Bottom

I did not hit rock bottom because I was dumped.

I hit rock bottom because that day I looked in the mirror and hated myself. To be honest, I had hated myself for years, my ex-girlfriend had just pulled off the mask of security I had built to hide the contempt.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is not a story of wreckage, this is a story of recovery. And whether you like it or not, at some point in your life you will need to recover.

And if an overweight, self-hating 19-year-old pair of sweatpants can get up from the bathroom floor, then you can get up from anything.

In the words to come, I am going to outline for you the 12 things I learned from sifting around rock bottom, tell you where I am today, and give you a gift.

Because you don’t want to make my mistakes. Learn from the struggles to come and troubles will never phase you.

PART 2: HOW TO RECOVER FROM FAILURE AND COME BACK STRONGER

Let’s start with #1:
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1. Never Put All Your Eggs in Just One or Two Baskets

When I was left I was left with nothing.

That’s because I had focused so much on that one thing in my life that I neglected other things that were important to me.

My relationships with my family and friends had deteriorated, my body took damage, and I didn’t reach the goals I had set for myself that year – all because I wanted to focus my attention on one thing and one thing only.

Ironically enough, that ended up driving that one thing out of my life completely.

If you ever do have to rebuild, make sure you aren’t rebuilding from ashes. Create personal “security deposits” around your life.

This certainly does not only apply to getting dumped, either. For example, a college basketball player who neglects his or her schoolwork will be royally screwed if that hamstring tears.

Improve your relationships with friends. Get a hobby or job you really love. Spread your wealth into different facets. My rule of thumb when approaching my own recovery was to hit 5 targets of life consistently:

  1. My Faith
  2. My Family
  3. My Health
  4. My Work
  5. My Friends

These are some pretty standard goals. I’m sure you’ve all heard about maintaining these sections of life at least once, but take a minute and analyze each of these things. Are you maintaining all 5? While you may prioritize one, are all strong and flourishing independently of one another?

Give yourself a little status test on those 5 parts of your life. If you need to re-balance, think of ways to pivot and adjust. Let them grow together with you and if you ever lose or are negatively impacted by one, the other four will be there to support you.

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2. Write Your Way Through Life

That summer I wrote until my typing fingers were buff.

In fact, at the time my job was to write for two blogs. Every day I would wake up at 8, go get a coffee or two or three or ten, sit down at my brother’s kitchen table and write until dinner time.

That might sound like hell to some but for me I really enjoyed the freedom.

For me, giving speeches or mingling at parties is not where I learn about my confidence and sense of self. I have only ever opened up completely to Microsoft Word.

You should have no fear divulging your life to Miscrosoft. Gates won’t judge.

And you don’t even have to be any good.

In my free time from writing for those two blogs, I actually wrote more.

I wrote four or five submissions to Huffington Post and Elephant Journal – posts that would help me define who I was.

Only one was ever published, and going back and reading a couple I realized most of them were whiney and sad, but writing pulled me out of the abyss and threw me into productive and thoughtful action.

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3. Find Something to Give You Immediate Satisfaction and No Regret

Otherwise known as “the rebound.”

Keep in mind that a rebound can be just as damaging as going back to old habits.

I had my fair share of regrettable rebounds across different mediums, and only one rebound was ever effective.

And believe it or not it was only a couple of days after I was broken.

My brother and I had decided to begin private contracting website development in our spare time.

We got lucky through a friend and ended up with a budget of $8000 for development.

At the time, I had never seen so much money in my life.

We sat down, wired in and began development.

The only things I consumed that day were black coffee and apples, the only breaks I took were bathroom, and I began to buzz through the task list.

I sat back to take another swig of coffee, and opened the task list again.

It was empty.

I turned to my brother and we began laughing – the first time I had smiled in days.

We had made an $8000 website in 6 hours and 14 minutes.

I’m sure some of you web-devs out there will laugh off that number, but for us this was a big deal.

It was an even bigger deal for me.

For a minute I completely forgot I hated myself, the first palpable step towards real long-lasting change I had tasted in years.

I loved myself that day – if only briefly – because of something I had accomplished.

When you rebound from brokenness, make sure it is on something where you can sit back and genuinely not feel one ounce of regret.

Instead of defaulting to sex, drugs, alcohol, or food, try being irregular and accomplishing something instead.

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4. Believe in Something That Isn’t You

I don’t know how I would have gotten to where I am today without God.

And before anyone closes this post simply because I am discussing my Christian faith, know that this point applies to you as well. It applies to everyone.

Because everyone is capable of believing in something greater than themselves.

Whether this be within religion or from a wise mentor or a spouse or your mother, to go from where you are to where you want  to be requires a belief in something greater than you.

Why?

First off, if you are in a place of self-hatred, the last person you want to be in charge of your problems is you.

Now this may seem like a cop-out to some, but seeking help not only almost always returns help, but it second-handedly provides confirmation that someone cares or loves you. This might be the stepping stone you need to get where you’re going.

Second, a fast way to fail is to believe in yourself too much. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and when you cross that line stupid decisions will be made. And if you have effectively isolated yourself on the journey to where you’re going, once you fail you’ll come crashing down with no one to break your fall. For more refer back to point #1.

If you just dread seeking help from others, think of them as security nets. The journey to the top is often lonely and gruesome, but you’ll feel more comfortable with the support of others. Here you can think of your beliefs or mentors as a mattress at the bottom of a ladder or a harness during a climb.

You might not need them, but you’re sure as hell glad you have them.

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5. Find a Quote

That August, I went to Church twice a week. I was in Los Angeles and loved the music, so at the time I was attending the well-known Mosaic LA.

While I was listening to the music with open ears, I realized at that moment I wasn’t really listening to the sermons.

My mind was preoccupied. I’m an overthinker. That’s what I do.

After the breakup I began to soak in the lessons, and the Wednesday one week after the breakup I got just what I needed.

A quote that off of which I could base my recovery.

It was the associate pastor on the mid-week service that said

“God promises to bring you to life, not to bring you back to the life you thought was life.”

At first this might seem cryptic, but the more you say it the more you begin to understand the power in believing in something greater than yourself.

If you trust in something or someone, let them guide you.

Stop thinking you know better.

It’s counter-intuitive to choose to follow a leader and then fall back on your own selfish wants and intentions.

For me, this quote brought me to the point where I could trust that life would get better. That every step I took forward would be on solid ground.

I said this quote to myself about 20 times a day for the next three months, and continue to recite it to this day.

Find a quote that resonates with you from a wise person, figure or deity that inspires you and follow it without fault.

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6. Find New Friends, Whether You Want to or Not

Ever heard the quote, “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”?

Most people have. Radu even used it in one of his recent videos How to Stop Cheating and Get Lean for Good.

If you are not in a place that you like, look around you at your influences.

Are they helping or hindering?

More than likely, there are at most a few influences that are actually doing you any good.

Do an evaluation, and cut the dead weight.

It will hurt, but it will end up benefiting you in the long run.

When I was dumped, my ex-girlfriend and I had a lot of shared friends. Although I love them and wanted to spend time with them, all they did was remind me of her.

I knew that I had to get rid of that constant reminder of my past to focus on my future.

So I kept a couple friends close and conceded to her the rest.

music-head-human-notes-coming-out-white-background-421844857. Get Engulfed in Music

Some people don’t like music, which is strange to me.

To me that’s like not liking dessert.

“I’m not a dessert person.” What even is that?

The great thing about music is, it’s calorie free.

But many people don’t realize how much music choice affects the brain.

According to this insanely interesting study, your music taste predicts your personality.

Go ahead and look at this graphic and some elaboration below, see if your favorite genre of music lines up with who you are:

music-and-personality

From Buffer:

To break it down, here is the connection they have found:

  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

End Buffer

If it lines up, awesome! Unless it’s not awesome.

I don’t know about you, but the indie category looks a lot like middle-school me, and I don’t want to go back there. I recently logged into my Pandora account and wiped off the cob webs from 2008 to discover that my most listened to channel was Glee Cast radio.

Good God.

What I’ve found is that this relationship is bidirectional – meaning that the type of music you listen to can also influence the person you become.

Studies show that ambient music elevates creativity, worship music alleviates anger and depression, and continuously listening to rock music can make you a more motivated person.

So I took the rock challenge.

I dove into rock music last summer and the results have been astounding. I force myself to listen to rock music whenever I can and I honestly love it. Here are some albums that got me through my tough times and made me who I want to be:

Royal Blood – Royal Blood

The Balcony – Catfish and the Bottlemen

Greatest Hits – Blink 182

Day & Age – The Killers

And the all-time favorite with over 200 full listens this past year:

Currents – Tame Impala

I also got into rap because I felt it would make me more confident. It worked. Also knowing all the lyrics to every song at parties has its perks.

Go ahead and set a music-listening regimen. Add songs to your playlists you wouldn’t normally listen to if you want to recover from failure and come back stronger.

Find-out-who-you-are__quotes-by-Ellen-DeGeneres-88

8. Find Out Exactly Who You Are

The only way to do this is to spend time with yourself – when you’re ready.

Go on a hike in the woods with a tent, a map and food for a week. See where that takes you.

If getting lost in the forest isn’t for you, maybe do a spa weekend alone or just get a hotel room for yourself one night.

Spend time with you and see what you’re like.

It’s this type of self-evaluation and introspection that becomes so rare in our busy lives, and before we know it we are unhappy because we never knew what actually makes us happy in the first place.

Before you can even know where you want to go, you need to know what you want. Make sure you know by going and spending some time with your good ol’ self.

Radu-Antoniu-transformation

9. Get in Shape with a Plan

Part of my complete rock bottom was my weight gain.

I was around 20% body fat. Some people can do that, but I wasn’t wearing it well.

While not everyone needs to get in shape, maintaining a solid bod is a great way to increase confidence and release positive endorphins.

But don’t mess around with bullshit info or go around collecting various little tidbits from 100 different websites preaching opposing philosophies.

Buy a plan and stick to it. I was once super against buying workout programs, but once I started thinking of it as an investment in myself, I started seeing all the candy bars I was buying as bets AGAINST myself.

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10. Read Your Way Up

It is very important to study.

You can always learn. In fact, what you’re doing right now is studying and learning from my experiences.

Study is so important because there is always someone in the world who has gone through the situation you are going through right now…and done it wrong.

Learn from them. Don’t be that dummy that ignores advice that is ripe for the taking.

It is also very important to make study a habit.

Study the smarts of someone else for about ten minutes a day and watch it work wonders for your life. People are smart (most of them).

“But I don’t have time to study.”

You watch TV, brush your teeth, read the paper, take a shower, go to work, poop at work 4 times and eat three meals every day – out of habit.

Try adding study by making it a habit or part of your morning routine. Or maybe just study when you poop at work.

When I was at my low, I didn’t study and I suffered a slow moving recovery.

Now I study every day and feel myself growing constantly.

Currently I am studying Bob Proctor’s Six Minutes to Success and Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People.

 

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11. Find Something You Love With a Number

This one is crucial.

Get addicted to something that won’t make your teeth fall out.

Get addicted to numbers.

Find something with a number attached and set a goal for yourself.

I’m talking Facebook friends, Instagram followers, number of times you get complimented at work, number of times the opposite sex checks you out in a day, just SOMETHING.

For me, it was money.

While this may not be the healthiest number to become obsessed with, I was at the time a teenager with no money, so I thought, why not get some?

Refer back to my $8000 in six hours story to see how that turned results really quickly. I began counting everything. I counted how many words I could write in a day, how many sales I could get on my blog, even how low I could get my price at the Chipotle I visited daily.

And that, believe it or not, helped me recover and turned me into the man I am a year later. Thanks Chipotle.

Find a task with a number, or pinpoint a task you’ve been neglecting that you really love.

Whatever the task may be, attach a number to it and watch your performance in all areas of life excel with numbers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, CHARLIE BROWN - The ABC Television Network and the PEANUTS gang will ring in the new year with the half-hour animated PEANUTS special, "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown," created by late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, airing MONDAY, DECEMBER 28 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (© 1958, 1965, 1986 United Feature Syndicate Inc.) SCHROEDER, SALLY, MARCIE, SALLY, LINUS, PEPPERMINT PATTY, CHARLIE BROWN

12. Use New Years – Seriously

The day I really began to figure out that I was a better person than I was a year prior was New Year’s of 2016.

I was talking to my brother and we decided to make real goals this time.

None of this “I’m gonna lose 50 pounds and make a million dollars” deals.

There’s no “why” there and there’s no “how” either.

You need a why and a how to make a New Year’s resolution last past February.

Notice how I didn’t say that losing 50 pounds and making a million dollars are “unrealistic.”

Because for a lot of people those things are not unrealistic. Just figure out a why and a how and make sure those are things you can really get behind.

I realized I was a more confident person when I decided I was going to set a lofty goal for myself. Back in August I was a fairly non-risk-taking guy deep down, but this time I was going to do it.

I was going to make 6 figures by December OR have a recurring monthly income that adds up to a 6 figure year.

Why? To build confidence, to attach a number to success for tangibility, and to pay my parents back for college.

How? By identifying my strengths and shooting for recurring passive income in one of those strengths.

Pretty broad, I know, but wouldn’t ya know it worked. New Years is magic.

 

PART 3: “KAO LA”

Where am I today due to these 12 tactics?

Let’s start with my New Year’s Resolution:

I pinpointed a strength of mine as website building and ecommerce sales – skills I had learned at my internship the previous summer and in classes at school.

I started private contracting website development work, which started bringing in cash more quickly than I thought. By February I had been set up with a man named Radu Antoniu and we began growing ThinkEatLift together.

To date in mid-July, I have made over $20,000 since that resolution and my recurring monthly income has now reached $5000. I’m not there yet, but I’m just over half finished with the year.

Who knows where I’ll be in December – I could be broke – but the point is that these “tactics to recover from failure and come back stronger” I’ve acquired over the last 12 months work.

I didn’t set out to discover them, but I fell upon them the hard way and I couldn’t be happier.

Use them for yourself and let me know how it goes.

Next, let’s look at my health and fitness:

My one year progress using these tactics is 176 pounds to 147 pounds and a 33 waist to a 30 waist. I still have a ton of work to do but I’ve never felt better.

Last, let’s look at my love life 1 year later:

I would like to say that today this sector of my life was completely in tact.

It’s not.

As of typing these words I am now single for three hours – a long distance relationship didn’t go as expected.

It still hurts, but I’ll be okay this time, because I’ve learned what to do. While I would never call this anything close to a “failure”, the tactics will help me continue pressing onward. I’m not curled up on the bathroom floor…

1. I am at my computer satisfying an egg in a different basket.

2. I am writing through it.

3. I am about to buy a few books as my healthy rebound.

4. I have already prayed for me and for her.

5. “God promises to bring you to life, not to bring you back to the life you thought was life.”

6. Lucky for me, I’m not back at school with our friends. For the same effect, I’ve placed all social media apps on my phone into a grouping entitled “No.”

7. I am listening to Christmas music in July in hopes that it will make me jollier.

8. I’m alone right now in my basement.

9. I’ve already worked out chest (booyah).

10. I’ll fall asleep tonight reading Dale Carnegie.

11. I have Radu’s YouTube subscriber number in the corner of my screen and I’ve already gotten a $7.92 massive Chipotle.

12. And finally, I am working right now to continue making progress towards that New Year’s resolution I made 6+ months ago. I’ve made it long past February.

I’m not at my tip top right now, but I know I will be one day. I will continue using these tactics until the day I die and I hope that you will as well.

PART 4: YOUR GIFT

Just to push you that extra little step and because you just read over 4000 words, I’ve made you all a special gift.

Click the PDF link below for your free personal “I WILL NOT BE SWEATPANTS” sign complete the 12 Tactics to Recover from Failure and Come Back Stronger.

THE OFFICIAL I WILL NOT BE SWEATPANTS SIGN

Good luck and happy hunting your goals and purpose.

I want to leave you with some words I’ve learned from the wise Napoleon Hill.

The first words of this article were “What you are about to read is my life’s story.”

I tell myself now that I was born on August 2, 2015. Here’s why:

“You have been disappointed, you have undergone defeat during the depression, you have felt the great heart within you crushed until it bled. Take courage, for these experiences have tempered the spiritual metal of which you are made – they are assets of incomparable value.

Remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they ‘arrive.’ The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their ‘other selves.’

  • Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

I would love to hear about your story of recovery. Please tell me about it in the comments, and let me know any lessons you would add to this list!

20 Comments

  1. Alex on July 27, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Mate, you got me thinking…

    Good article.

    • Robert Walker on July 27, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Awesome! Thank you. That was exactly the goal of this article. Feel free to let me know how these tactics work for you.

  2. Serban on July 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Salut, ai un grup pe facebook sau comunitate din care as putea face si eu parte(daca este deschisa pentru doritori)?

  3. Paul on July 27, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    This is an excellent article, thanks Robert. Sounds like we have a lot in common…

    • Robert Walker on July 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Thank you! Really glad you liked it. Keep your head up, Napoleon Hill also said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

      Keep that in mind moving forward.

  4. Mena on July 27, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    AmaIng stuff! Incredible, it just shows that anyone and everyone should find their purpose or create one and start working towards a more creative and enthusiastic life.

  5. Fiona on July 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    What a great read. Thank you.

  6. Alberto on July 28, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Thanks, really inspiring….I’ve already start to write on my notebook

  7. Cristian on July 28, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Very nice article Robert, you;re bringing a lot of value to an already very high quality blog.

  8. Christina on August 9, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Robert,
    This is amazing. I can relate completely. The article is beautifully written. What I can’t seem to do is have these high goals. I do set out some so called ‘realistic-goals’ but fail to stick to them. It’s like Radu said in one of his videos that changing your habits and do stuff that will draw you closer to your goal. It is tough.
    I am not a religious person. I do not have someone that I completely trust and hence find it difficult to rely on someone completely. I believe that this mentor-ship requires a lot of trust and is a selfless act.
    Radu has definitely come a long way and is very inspirational other than being knowledgeable when it comes to fitness. I was actually hoping he’s launch a program of his own soon. Turns out it’s catered to men. (sigh)
    One of my goals is to be in better shape. I have lot more work to do. The other which I want to get done soon is find work that pays better and that I enjoy more.

    Thanks for the article.
    Cheers

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