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9 Sure-Fire Ways to Deal with Failure

Few things in life can be as painful as failing at something that your heart was truly set on.

Failure can kill your confidence, break your heart and suck away your motivation…all in one step.

Failure can’t always be avoided. You can work your hardest for the best results possible and still fail, which is when failure hurts the most.

So if failure can’t be helped, what can you do? What can you do to prevent yourself from feeling miserable after a failure? The answer is nothing. But there are some things you can do to prevent yourself from letting failure stop you from taking future risks.

1. Embrace your feelings

There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or depressed after failing at something. It is natural. So don’t fight these feelings. Feeling sadness and loss right after failure is your mind’s way of coping.

Stopping yourself from feeling this way will be counter productive and make you hold onto the feeling of loss for even longer. Allowing your feelings to come as they do will allow you to get over them quicker.

Give yourself time to be sad. You may not want to talk about it or be cheered up right after a failure. This is fine. Just allow yourself some time to feel sorrow.

2. Talk to a confidant

Once you are feeling a little better, try to speak with a confidant about your feelings and your thoughts on your failure. It will feel good to get it out after taking some time to grieve.

Tell them about why you are sad, why you think you failed, why it isn’t fair…whatever. Just vent to them. If you selected this person as your confidant it is because they truly care about you and want to listen.

3. Spend time with friends

After grieving and venting, going out with some friends or loved ones is a great opportunity to get your mind off of things and put yourself in a better mood.

You have already allowed yourself to feel sorrow and depression, so now would be a good time to keep yourself from getting into a slump.

By now, you probably want to be cheered up and you do not want to think about the failure any longer. Do what your feelings are telling you and try to use this opportunity to move on.

4. Stop doubting yourself

You will certainly feel a lot of doubt in your ability to succeed after experiencing failure. See my article on dealing with self doubt. This will surely help if you have another business idea that you want to work on but are uncertain of yourself.

5. Do something you love and enjoy, especially if you are good at it

Doing something you love and enjoy will cheer you up again and help you focus your attention on something more enjoyable. Allowing yourself to enjoy some activity will help to keep your mood up and maintain a healthy level of confidence.

An added bonus to this is if you are doing something you are good at as well. Take note of your skill at this task and allow yourself to admire your proficiency in this activity.

Seeing how skillful you are at something will build up your confidence since you have the opportunity to realize that you are quite talented at other tasks.

6. Use caution when looking for the cause

Looking for the reason why you failed is important, since you need to learn from your mistakes. But be careful. If your confidence is still fragile and your self esteem is pretty low, finding something bad about yourself as a leader or manager might only make you feel worse.

If you are looking into the reasons why you have failed, try to avoid drilling down into the personal aspects of your failure until you have regained some confidence.

When depressed and self-conscious, you aren’t in any state of mind to learn from your mistakes. You’ll either deny the whole thing or avoid it.

Do yourself a favor and wait a little bit before looking into anything that will reveal your inadequacies as an entrepreneur.

7. Look for motivations in other activities

There is a chance that this failure may motivate you to succeed elsewhere. Pursue this. It will bring your motivation and confidence back and allow you to work on something you love.

8. Give yourself time

Similar to number one, you do need to allow yourself some time to heal up and feel better over the failure. Taking too long may be detrimental, but you certainly deserve some time to recuperate.

Stop feeling obligated or unproductive because you are feeling miserable over your loss. Allow yourself time to recover and you will find that you will return to work stronger.

9. Consider that this failure may have happened for a good reason

It can be very comforting to feel that this failure may have happened for a good reason–that there is some fate that decided that your calling or motivations are better served elsewhere.

Blaming failure on external reasons can certainly feel a lot better and make failure easier to confront. As long as you are committed to learn from your mistakes once you are feeling better, this tactic isn’t unhealthy.

Ultimately, try to look for the positives and what you got out of the experience itself. Just doing this might reveal to you that you were meant to experience this failure to make you stronger.

Can anyone come up with a 10th tactic to dealing with failure?

2 comments… add one
  • Dania Salguero January 29, 2009, 12:29 am

    10) Have a drink!
    Hey Matt, just letting you know that we all go through failure some time or another, sometimes failure of our own or our loved ones.
    Just remember to keep striving for the best.
    Your blog is great by the way!

    • Matt Thomas January 29, 2009, 1:58 pm

      Haha, I suppose as long as you don’t have a drink EVERY TIME you face failure, then it is fine.

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