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