How to Pick Yourself Up After a Failure

No one likes to fail. Whether it’s at work, at home, or in another area of your life, failure is painful – and it can also be costly in terms of time, money, or both.

But failure is a normal part of life. If you never, ever suffer a failure, then you’re probably not pushing yourself to your full potential. Often, it’s only through failure that we eventually meet with success.

Here’s how to pick yourself up after you’ve failed:

Limit the Damage Caused

Once you realize you’ve failed, you need to take steps to limit the damage caused by that failure. That could mean:

  • You sell off that gym equipment that you’re never going to get round to using
  • You step down from that position that you should never have taken in the first place
  • You apologize to someone who you hurt by saying something thoughtless or unkind

Whatever the situation, being proactive is always going to be a better option than sticking your head in the sand and wishing it had never happened.

Remember that Other People Fail Too

Most people don’t talk openly about their failures. They’ll tell you about that great new contract they signed … not that deal they worked on for months, only to have it slip through their fingers.

But failure is normal, and lots of people fail time and time again before meeting with success. Here are a few quotes that might help you to remember that:

“Edison failed 10, 000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.”

– Napoleon Hill


“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

– J.K. Rowling

Remind Yourself of Your Past Successes…

Failing doesn’t mean that you’re worthless, or that you’ll never achieve the things you want. Think of all the times in the past when you’ve succeeded.

Maybe you got a promotion that you worked for last year, or you had a great GPA in college, or you lost weight, or you learned to play a musical instrument. You might want to write down a list of successes – things that you’ve accomplished over the past few years, whether big or small. If you ever lack confidence, you can go back and read over that list.

…And Your Past Failures

Your past successes are important … but so are your past failures. You’ve made mistakes before, and you’ve survived them. Perhaps you did badly in an exam, or screwed something up at work, or lost your temper and had to apologize.

It’s not fun to think about the times when things went wrong, but by acknowledging your failures, you can remind yourself that today is no different. Just as you recovered in the past, you can recover from your recent failure too.

Make a Decision

Whatever went wrong, you’re probably facing some sort of decision – even once the initial consequences are over. For instance, perhaps you took out a credit card and ended up in debt. You’re facing two choices: keep using the card, or make it inaccessible in some way.

Don’t rush into making hasty decisions – but do look for a forward path. That might require some deep thinking. You can help yourself by:

  • Getting some extra advice and support with a particular area of your life, perhaps from a professional like a doctor, personal trainer, life coach, or counselor.
  • Reading and learning more, if a lack of knowledge led to your failure.
  • Talking through your options with a loved one or close friend, or writing in a journal about the decision(s) that you face.

“Doing nothing” is certainly an option … but it’s a decision in itself, and often one that won’t lead to anything positive.

Whatever failure you’re struggling with right now, you can learn from it, and move on.

If you want to share your experiences or thoughts, leave a comment below.

Photo credit: ‘Anxiety‘ by Big Stock


41 Responses to How to Pick Yourself Up After a Failure

  1. Omid says:

    After failure, the important question for me is “Is it my way?” how can i answer this question?  Maybe failure is true and i should change my way to find mine Or it’s mine and i need more effort.
    how can i solve it?

  2. Dwayne@TWC says:

    I never consider anything a failure unless you choose not to learn any type of lesson from it. Failure is good because it shows you that the way you’re doing it now isn’t working so you stop wasting time and figure out what does work.

  3. Rachel says:

    This article came around in the moment I really needed it to. I guess this question would be for anyone, but how does one find the motivation to continue doing something if they continue to fail and fail? I need some advice, please. 

  4. Singh9526 says:

    Well this might be lengthy,but I think is worthy of your time.

    There are two types of failures:
    1)Which happened when you didn’t have any direct control over why you failed.Like,in case of Edison,he was trying to build the bulb.He was putting the efforts,but why he couldn’t find the right material was out of his control.

    2)In which you fail because you just didn’t put enough effort you should have and simply gave up.Exapmle,you decide to build a habit and you give up practicing it within a week.

    -Solution to First Case:
    In the first case,all you need to do is have faith and believe in yourslef.Be positive and believe that you will finally achieve what you want.Just be satisfied that you have been trying, and that’s perfectly your bit that you need to do.So,be positive and keep on putting efforts,sincerely.

    -Solution to Second Case:
    Getting back up is more difficult in the second case.The reason being, that when you fail in this case,you start saying to yourself “Man,I just gave up/didn’t put the efforts.What the hell.I won’t be able to do it next the time also.If I couldn’t take the pain this time,how would I be able to take the pain next time.I am doomed.I can’t do it”
    And this gives a serious blow to your self belief and self-confidence.

    First of all you need to understand that probably even the next time when you try to do it,you won’t be able to do it or might just give up in the same manner as the last time.But,When you keep on doing it or keep on trying it,you will find that your ability to resist it/take the pain to do the hard work will increase.You would be able to stretch yourself further.And that is precisely why you should do it,try it next time,and keep on doing it

    The second thing you need to do is just the same as in the First Case,you need to keep faith in yourself and believe in yourself.Believe,that you would be able to do it and achieve what you wanted to.Don’t just say that,but actually believe it,when I say that I mean that you imagine yourslef winning.Just do it!,and you will find the magic behind it,though that doesn’t happen very quick.
    Have a problem solving attitude.Think and come up with ways of how the problem can be solved,rather than just lamenting about the problem.Because if you spend 90% of your time on thinking why this problem exits and 10% of your time to solve it,it is natural it won’t get solved.
    Gt up,break you problem into small parts,and start sorting mess out.If you don’t take the decision to sort the mess in your life out,than it naturally wouldn’t get sorted out magically.
    You need to take the pain,as I believe hard work is painful,by that I mean that you need to push your self which is difficult,but then you do get success and all you wanted to happen in your life.

    I know this is easy said than done.But remember,you will fall a lot of times in your life,bu the decision to get up will always be yours,and you can do it!.

    So go for it!

  5. Singh9526 says:

     Hey, I think my comment below could help you!
    Well,actually it is the same problem that I face.I am not very successful in my life too,but I am trying.

    These points might help you:
    -You should read motivational blogs like ‘Pick The Brain’.Search for your problem on Google.These blogs give you constant dose of motivation you need to keep yourself up.

    -You got to have a problem solving attitude,pend more time on thinking how you could solve the problem rather than thinking why this problem exits.

    -Keep on trying,as with each try, you become stronger and more able to take up the pain and to work hard.

    -Have belief in you that you can achieve what you want.Just keep on doing it.

    -The most important as well as difficult part is doing it.Putting the required effort and working hard.But there is just one solution,keep on trying,break what you want to accomplish into small parts and do them.When you complete a step you get the motivation of having accomplished something,which makes you want to do more.Have a problem solving attitude and keep on doing it.

    -Have a role model.Someone like Steven Spielberg,who has accomplished great feats and overcome his fears.When you have a role model,you imagine what you role model might have done if he was in your place,how might he have worked hard.Than you also realize how they didn’t give up in hard times because of which they are successful today.So you also need to do the same.They are a source of constant motivation.

    -Don’t curse yourself of why you are not getting success..Be positive.

    -Understand that things or situations are never perfect,or how you want them to be,but you need to work hard at all times.But because of the same hard work you succeed.You can get whatever you  want to accomplish in life,provided that you work hard sincerely.

  6. Omid says:

    thank you! Do you have any link to follow?

  7. Failing isn’t always such a bad thing. it often leads to other opportunities. the only problem is that its difficult to remember that when you feel really crappy.

  8. Singh9526 says:

    Hey Glori,I agree with you completely.Failure does lead us to opportunities,but that only happens when you decide to pick yourself up and  try and find the opportunities by looking at the situation with a positive perspective.The most important thing is you get up and try.Just keep on trying!.

  9. Singh9526 says:

    Links for what?

  10. Xavi Conde says:

    Hi Rachel,

    you have to find some success in your failure. Even if you ‘fail and fail’, something must have changed for good, or you might have learned something new. Based on that, just start again and try again. 

    Some things are difficult and successing not only depends on us, so we should expect failure as a reasonable outcome.

  11. Omid says:

    Links for following.
    Facebook, twitter, blog, website …?I like your writing.

  12. Singh9526 says:

     Oh..well I am so glad you liked my writing!.That is a huge compliment for me.
    Ah,But I am not a blogger.I have created a profile on blogger, but I don’t write.It is because I don’t get so much time for it,and I believe if I should do it,I should do it with full commitment.
    I think I can motivate people,but you know, it has to be practical.People take an  article in different ways and perspectives,but you need to talk to people,individually understand their current life situation and then give them advice accordingly,though doing this on a large scale is very difficult.
    Well,though here’s my facebook profile,you can add me up:

  13. Quotations says:

    Your blog is excellently designed and has lots of
    beneficial information that could be used as one great resource of knowledge of
    various aspects! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts!! Cheers

  14. Prashant (Pacific) says:

     My biggest fear was failure . But when i read an article on this site i realized that failure are necessary part of our life  and i agree with the sentence.
    the situation, being proactive is always going to be a better option than
    sticking your head in the sand and wishing it had never happened.”
    Because if u r taking initiative of your mistake it means u r really feeling guilty for it .

  15. Snoopy says:

    Better to have tried and failed, then never to have tried at all.  Keep on trying until you get it right.

  16. bddhdh says:

    Hey! I am a student studying actuarial science and my mid term exams didnt go too well. I missed one of my exemptions that I needed. I am feeling so crappy about it, and its been 4 days and i don’t know how to come to pick myself up and be motivated for the next semester. I’ve been an A student my entire life and I find myself just going down. How should I approach this? All my friends were able to pass and I have failed, and I do know its on the end of the world, but I have had this dream of being able to get all my exemptions, and now I feel its all crumbling down. How do I start fresh? And be able to draw positive energy from this to keep going and have more confidence in my ability? 

  17. I feel not g0od says:

    I feel s0 horrible kuz this morning i’v been told dat i’v failed in an exam……….I worked so hard on it but then da exam was unexpectable………….Those i studied with..they all pass nd dat’s wat makes me feel even bad……………..I don’t wanna talk abt it nt even to my family i actually had fight with  my young sis few seconds ago……..I cant stop tearing…..I don’t want to end up being depressed…..I have so many other final exams coming soon…I jst dont want 2 crack now..

  18. Vince50 says:

    I dont mean to be a wet blanket about the subject of failure, but probably one of the most horrible things is when 2 soldiers meet on a battlefield. One has to live and one has to die. In some things you dont get a second chance. How about when you found your soulmate, you know this because you are already well up in age and you never found anyone you cared for more but because of something you said that this woman misinterpreted, she lost all her feelings for you and ended it. Should you say at age 49 that “its OK, I will learn from this and move on? Onto what!? In a few years it will be too late to start a family if not already too late. Thats another big subject we all hide from. Failure in relationships! It is a fact that 90% of men want the same 10% of women and I thin fdor women its 80% of women want the same 20% of men. So what do the other 90% of us men do? I will tell you. We settle! Or, we stayt single all our life and tell everyone we are happier that way. This  is a subject  I find men cant deal talking about. Why? So few are happy with who they are with!!! Women must be in same boat. So sometimes you succeed in all you put effort into except the most important thing….love!

  19. Anaire says:

    Hey, as I read your comment, I was feeling like I wrote it myself.. I’ve always been an A student and now I feel I’m loosing it here in college.. I don’t know if it’s the wrong college for me or what but it sucks having to feel like this. I hope it gets better for both of us and all the people in the similar situations. We just have to keep our chin up I think…

  20. Queeng18 says:

    i just found out that i failed my cpa exam for the 5th time…i am a wreck and what’s worst, is that it will have certain repercussions at my work….oh man…where did i ever go wrong :(

  21. AdeQ_omel says:

    im stuck. dont know what to think and what i should do. i got 2 choice(working things) im good at both. but now im lost inside myself. really dont know what to do.

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  23. Pingback: Lessons in Understanding Failure | IQ Matrix Blog

  24. PharmGrl says:

    Hey, I know how you feel. I’m going to pharmacy school right now and I found out that I had failed one of my core classes (Therapeutics) and so I have to retake that class during the summer and pay at least 6k for this remediation class. Realizing that I have an F for one of my courses has really set me back in terms of being a competitive candidate after graduation. I feel like doors have closed for me because in pharmacy school, I’m like B-/C+ student. Believe me, I’ve placed a lot of time and effort in trying to figure out how to study effectively and been applying different methods. Sometimes I think I’m just stupid and am not meant to be in pharmacy school. Along with feeling of inadequacy, I’m aware of my lack of motivation sometimes. For a long time now even before pharmacy school, I’ve been struggling to study effectively and having the drive to keep on going. I’ve only been an A student up to middle of high school and after that my performance and motivation have been slowly declining.

    I’m currently going thru this phase of understanding and accepting the reality of my situation and of myself. I realized that attitude plays a major factor in all of this and that I need to change it for the better as well as having confidence in myself if I am ever to expect success. I just wanted to share this tid-bit about myself with you and everyone else. You’re not alone. We’re all struggling in some form or another. We’ve all failed or will fail in some way. But what’s important is not give up on yourself. True strength is taking all the blows that’s dealt to you…both pain, struggle, and failure…and keep moving forward.

    Don’t ever give up. You can give up when you’re dead. But you’re ALIVE. You have the POTENTIAL to become stronger, faster, smarter, and better than you were the day before. “Limits like fear are often an illusion.”

    Good luck my friends!!

  25. Vince V says:

    Pharm Girl, I love to hear stories of people who fail, push themselves and keep going and win. But I really love top hear stories of people who are pushed by the thing they want….so the effort isnt all coming from external motivation. Thise are the best! Anyone can push themselves till they crack up or have a heart attack. I suppose in some cultures they applaud you for that. I love to hear about people who are always in the flow, and life seems to be pushing THEM! Do you know why I love that so much? IT has never happened to me that I was so much in the flow everything became easy. I sure hope our world is evolving towards THAT way of living. If not, we may as well just go back to Roman times. (Have any of you looked around you lately and can say that would be impossible? Scary, isnt it?)

    First off..whomever said “Life isnt supposed to be fun, its supposed to be hard.” Can we get that person sent to another planet please. Too many are starting to believe it. And sadly as WE see on you tube vids and TV news, we have an underclass of people who have no expectations of ever living to be close to 30 yrs old. How did the USA allow that thought to grow for 40 years! Oh yeah…we became business people…and we did the American thing….we just worried about ourself. How’s it workin’ out for us?

  26. Vince V says:

    cOULD YOUR INNER YOU BE TELLING YOU THAT YOU ARE NEEDED ELSEHWERE AND TO GEWT THE HELL OUT OF THAT PROFESSION OR AT LEAST CAP IT, RIGHT HERE? tHINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON. i BET MONEY YOU DIDNT love studying for ot…and if you didnt, you wouldnt love doing it. I did the same with athletics. I wanted to be a champion black belt and have a string of schools around the country. God had other plans for me and he never let me get good at it. But did I hear her? Of course not…I kept wasting another 25 yts practicing or sceming in how I was going to outsmart my body with patience. On the other hand, for those who love what they do, you wouldnt complain if it took you 40 yrs to become the little league coach of your neighborhood…..if you really breathe and eat baseball. I think most of us choose things we think will give us satisfaction until we see how much the bill really is, and that we dont even have the right currency to pay it off.

  27. stavo says:

    What do you do when you feel you are out of choices? I have made some poor decisions in my life but, some of what I have gone through was of none of my own doing. I have had medical, financial, relationship and family problems that have recently culminated to a point where I can’t seem to get out of my own way. I am 43yo, I have lost my job, my home, my car and I’m struggling to get along with family so that I have a place to keep my animals while I get my life back together. I have four cats that were strays I could not find homes for and a Toy Poodle that I have had for seven years. I am walking on egg shells living with my mom knowing that she does not want me there. She brings me down emotionally as she clearly has no faith in my ability to be a successful person. She likes to point out my flaws repeatedly while not acknowledging any of my succeses. She claims I am a poor manager of money even though my debt consists of medical bills and student loans, neither of which I feel make me a bad manager of money. What do you do when you have no sense of self worth and nothing to call your own? I have been searching for work non stop for over a year and it has been three years since I have had a well paying job. I am not above doing anything but I have not been able to get a job that will get me out of my situation. I’d love any constructing advice without the insults please.

  28. Kimberly Cawker says:

    Probably did the same thing I did. DIdn’t give myself enough time to study. I ended up cramming, and should have scaled back on my work. For your case I would take a break for a week, talk to my boss and state I am having trouble passing this exam. There can be ways to work this out but the MAJOR question, do you really want to persue this exam to continue earning a salary. Do you like the accounting profession enough to take this exam one more time or be content to earn experience. I don’t know if you can take the exam one more time.

  29. SAVJR says:

    I was 23 when I failed for the first, I thought I was never getting back up. A year passed and the effects of my mistakes still haunted me. Something these articles do not mention and the most important thing to do after failing is knowing that everything is going to be ok. Understanding that you will succeed and will fall short from time to time is a fact you will need to adopt. Having a positive attitude is what helps the most, even when it seems that no matter what you do you, you keep digging a deeper hole. Like Winston Churchill once said, ” If you are going through hell, keep going.”

  30. LeahLeopoldo says:

    Thanks posting this article that motivates me enough to pick up myself despite of feeling broken all alone and tired of waiting from my dream job position as an Industrial Engineer. While reading the article that posted above It makes me feel that I’m not alone anymore, that all of us as a human being experience failure in life and challenges in life that gives us enough courage to overcome whatever circumstances we face and to never give up in life in order to live again!

    I also read all the comments and the different side of their stories, it makes me believed that SUCCESS Is always possible when you believed in yourself and God is looking for us. They said that failure is another way of leading us to another big opportunity in life that’s I believed. Actually, before I found this site I am feeling broken I just don’t know when it will be done. The
    feeling of being unproductive, not important, low value and many more. Feeling
    so downfall. It was like waiting the bus in the waiting shed to come. Yes, I do
    always a prayers and thinking always positively but every morning I
    wake up, there is a fear inside my head, a fear inside my heart wishing
    that one day these things I’ve been through will get over! I cannot focus on my review on this day for CIE because of this strange feeling inside my head. I Just want
    to get out from this feeling. I wanna give up now though in my mind I
    still want to fight. I dream to work on that position, I dream to be on
    that position but days gone, time pass and no good news I’ve heard. I
    really want to give up , so much pain and being exhausted of waiting
    all alone.And then suddenly I search on a google on how to pick up myself, this site I found out and it help me to go on in life and trust God for everything, and again thanks to people who inspired me and somehow they lifted me up. SOMeday all I’ve been waiting for will come true. I always keep on praying and I must keep on believing that dreams do come true and hope is real. I may not be successful now in terms of achievements and goals that I
    want to conquer but I am successful enough and feel blessed having my
    family who truly loves and care for me. I am a 22yo, single, no work as for now still waiting for a dream job I applied in a one of the greatest company here in the Philippines and I graduated as a Industrial Engineer at NDDU Philippines. Eagerly waiting for my dream job to help my family and be an instrument to give back all their hardship for us to graduate. Above all I Thank God for making me feel
    that despite of downfalls and failure Ive been through I still have all
    the reasons to live and to tried again as well us to Fight for this
    battle field! Someday its gonna make sense! :) Thank you Guys and More Power!


  31. LeahLeopoldo says:

    Hello All Just wanna say Add me on your facebook >>>
    Thanks Guys! I was really inspired by all of you and now I can say to
    myself that whatever feeling of broken down/downfalls in my life now I
    know someday Its gonna make sense. I trusted God from all of this. Thank
    you and Goodevening to all. Please add me thanks!

  32. Pingback: How to Pick Yourself Up After a Failure | The LA Psychiatrist

  33. meenu vinod says:

    Failure is the stepping stone to success.keep on trying again and again.never give up and think that god is always there.

  34. nastrooon says:

    i started college with long-term plans of getting an admission from universities abroad.
    finishing master’s course i was not ready for applying, however, i did so and i failed 3 times.
    thinking back i cannot detect any success… all i can see are failures after failure…
    these made me loose my confidence… among friends in university i had been always on the top… but now, they’re making progress in their career or their life… all i am doing are a significant decline…
    i could not do that…
    i can not do that… and i might not be able to get that in the future…
    these are things that make me depressed, feeling helpless, and hopeless…

  35. Pingback: Berg's Eye View » Blog Archive » Fail Trail #1: Some Thoughts/Ideas re: Failure as Motivation

  36. TM ARUN KUMAR says:

    With the help of “Planning” you can solve any problem but first you need to believe in yourself. (No One Help You In Your Life & Even God)

  37. michelle says:

    OMG, this was so helpful for me. I came across this and I’m so glad I did. I have made mistakes I am not proud of, but I am going to fix this. Get up, have faith and allow God to fix this problem, because I refuse to claim it.

  38. Singh9526 says:

    Thank you michelle. Look, this blog thing is ok, and I used to be at these and read them all the day. But then I found something that in it’s real sense changed my life literally. And this wouldn’t have happened by reading blogs.

    If you can stream videos with your Internet connection, go to and search for ‘etthehiphoppreacher’. He is a motivational speaker, his name is Eric Thomas. He is the best motivational speaker in the world. I stumbled upon his video Secrets to Success, and then there was no stopping. He does a weekly Monday motivational video called TGIM : Thank God It’s Monday. You will find a lot of videos from him on YouTube, just go check them out and I can guarantee you that it will change your life.

    Check it out, Thank me later.

  39. Singh9526 says:

    Hey people, check this guy out. Search on YouTube for ‘etthehiphoppreacher’, He is the beat motivational speaker in the world. If you want motivation and want to change your life, he is a one stop destination for all.

    Search it, I can guarantee you will not regret. For a starting point, check out the video Secrets to Success by Eric Thomas.

  40. Gymwurm says:

    I tried everything in my power to change my work situation by applying for numerous other positions in aviation.Somehow they keep me hanging in all of the positions for over 2 months whilst getting two “we regret to inform you…” If I don’t do anything about my situation,I have no right to complain but trying is not getting me anywhere either…

  41. Ashika Ann Siby says:

    This has really motivated me.I won’t give up.I will try hard to succeed.. Thank you so much

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