Why does failure cause some people to give up on their dreams while others bounce back even better than before? It has to do with the way they think about failure. Failure can be part of the long road to success but only if you think about it in a way that’s productive. Beating yourself up for your lack of success or declaring yourself a hopeless cause leads to unhelpful feelings, like shame or resentment. And it can lead to unproductive behavior, like staying inside your comfort zone. The key to recovering from failure is changing the way you think. When you think about failure differently, you’ll be able to turn your biggest setbacks into your best comebacks.
But any kind of failure can be an amazing opportunity for growth and development if we approach it in the best way.
1. It was not your last chance
It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and goals, in one way or another. There are always new opportunities to pursue and you will always get another shot at showcasing your abilities and skills. There will always be another chance, and you will approach it with greater readiness and having learned more. Each opportunity teaches you something so that when you try again, you will do better.
2. Think what this failure taught you
One of the biggest advantages of failure, any kind of failure, is that it makes you wiser. It provides a lesson – why didn’t it work? What could you do differently next time? What should you consider about yourself in regards to this situation? What is the main lesson? Consider the situation from different perspectives and, if you can, ask people you trust for their input too.
3. “Even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted, I’m still OK.”
Catastrophizing failure isn’t helpful. Keep failure in proper perspective and choose to be grateful for what you have. Whether you still have your health or you have a roof over your head, there are always things to be grateful for.
4. Always keep the possibility of failure in mind
It is harder to cope with failure when you were 100% confident in your success. This is not a bad mindset when your victory or triumph is guaranteed, but that is rarely the case. Always keep in mind the possibility that something might not turn out as you envisioned, because this will help you avoid feeling devastated. You should have a plan b and be prepared to put it into action. This doesn’t mean that you need to give up or have a defeatist attitude, just to be ready for any outcome. This might help you have a backup or consider your resources more carefully than if you go all in.
5. Don’t see something as personal when it is not
A problem with failure is that we see something that reflects on us or that is entirely related to our personal failings. But just as often, our failure happens due to factors that have nothing to do with us. Maybe we offer something that is not wanted or maybe there are objective circumstances that change the situation and are beyond our control.
While we should strive to learn from our mistakes, it’s also no good to pin each situation solely on ourselves. By acknowledging that we don’t have full control over the world, we can become resilient and focus on what’s within our purview.
6. Compassion is not just for other people
Approaching the failure with compassion is an important thing to remember. Often, we are really harsh to ourselves and that discourages us from trying again or learning from the mistakes we made.
Instead, we want to approach the situation with compassion. We can picture what we would say to a close friend who faced something similar and redirect the words to ourselves.
7. “Failure is proof I’m pushing myself to my limits.”
You could probably live a safe and boring life that is relatively free of failure if you wanted. But, if you want to become a better version of yourself, you’re going to need to do things that could cause you to fail. Falling down is evidence that you’re trying to do something hard.
8. Failure is not permanent, it’s a natural part of the process
Changing how we view failure can provide us with the resilience we need to overcome it. It’s not just that there will be other opportunities, it’s that failure is an outcome that, if not as desirable as a success, is still valid and important. It is what helps us learn and forces us to grow.
Failure is not pleasant but is significant, and looking at any story of success, we will always find the failures that built it. See it as a necessary step, and you will bounce back better and faster. It can help you welcome your mistakes as important parts of everything you will be able to do and learn through them.