• How to Deal with Failure

How to Deal with Failure

While we wish we could be successful in everything we do, the reality is that at one point or another, we’ll face failure. Whether your mistake is big or small, the feeling that accompanies a setback is one we all dread. In those moments, it’s nearly impossible to think of the successes you’ve had, and easy to dwell on the negative situation at hand. Everyone feels this way from time to time, from the CEO to the entry-level employee. Dealing with disappointment is an important skill to develop, so we’ve put together 7 ways to help you manage failure.

How to Deal with FailureHow to Deal with Failure

1. Accept Your Emotions

When we feel bad about a situation, interaction, or event, some people tend to bury bad feelings instead of facing them head-on. Rejecting your negative emotions in the moment can cause you to feel stressed and anxious later down the line. Considering why you feel the way you are feeling, whether it’s anger, regret, or disappointment, will help you to process and move on. Often writing down your thoughts, talking about them out loud to a friend, or venting in a business forum can help to alleviate some of the emotions you are feeling. Don’t let yourself become burdened by negativity—release it.

2. Set Actionable Goals

While your first impulse after a failure may be to bury your head in the sand, taking action is the first step to making sure you don’t repeat your mistakes. Whether your error was a small oversight or a major miscalculation, reviewing the situation with a clear head will help you to achieve your goals in the future. If your mistake was due to exhaustion, aim to get in bed earlier during the week, or if you made an error on your tax forms, hire a financial advisor. Set reasonable and actionable goals, one by one.

3. Ask Questions

Failing is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to avoid it. Asking yourself questions after your setback is a great way to prevent it from happening again. Questions like:

  • What’s one thing I can learn from this situation?
  • Where did I make my first mistake?
  • How can I prevent this from happening again?

Taking responsibility for your actions and mistakes is the key to improving and recovering from failure. While these question may be uncomfortable, or even depressing, to answer, understanding your errors will help to prevent them in the future.

4. Don’t Make it Personal

Understanding that a business failure is no reflection on you is crucial to staying positive. Whenever we feel bad about a mistake, it’s easy to feel like we have failed both our business and ourselves, but the truth is these are completely separate areas. By personalizing failure, we can cause our self-esteem to crumble and collapse, leaving us feeling unconfident in our work. Recognizing that failure is not personal, or the end of the world, will help you to wake up feeling self-assured and calm tomorrow.

5. Gather Support

Especially for larger failures, such as bankruptcy, a layoff, or a legal issue, you will likely feel isolated, alone, and depressed. This is the time when your family and friends are needed most. Reaching out to them for emotional support, a cup of coffee, or even just a quick phone call can often raise your spirits enough to begin planning your next steps. Friends are necessary during dark times If they can provide advice, that’s even better, but sometimes just feeling that friendly support is all you need.

6. Find Inspiration from Others

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and failures are no exception to that rule. Gather all the information you need to proceed, whether it is through a TED Talk, a friend, or by networking. Hearing from others and how they have overcome their failures is often inspiring, and may help you to figure out your next steps. Reading up on the failures of those who eventually succeeded, such as Oprah, JK Rowling, and Thomas Edison, can also make you feel much more positive and hopeful about the future.


7. Face Your Failures

If you’ve been lucky enough in your life to make minimal mistakes, this failure may feel like your world is crashing down. It can be upsetting and even scary to be facing your current situation, but taking control of it the best way you can is key. Accept that you failed and don’t make excuses. Consider all advice you receive with an open mind, and set actionable goals that will put you on the path to success. Remember to take time for self-care and try to learn from this mistake. While failure is inevitable, your reactions are always dependent on you.

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