Every one of us knows how devastating failure can be—seeing your business go belly up, missing the pass mark that would have gotten you that coveted scholarship, getting fired from your job, not making the cut into the team after training all year, and so on.
Experiencing a major failure comes with a lot of pain. Failure crushes you, messes up your self-esteem, and leaves you demoralized and feeling like you are not worth anything.
What’s even worse is the fact that moving forward after a major failure is not any easier. However, if you want to go on and have a fulfilling life, you cannot let failure hold you back. The important thing is that you move on from failure and learn how to get back up.
Question is, how do you do it?
Here are 7 ways you can get back up after a major failure.
1. Dissect the Situation and Understand What Went Wrong
In most cases, failure doesn’t just appear out of the blues. Failure is a direct result of something you did or failed to do—either you didn’t prepare enough, you overlooked some important factors, you took too big a risk, or maybe you trusted someone you shouldn’t have.
Whatever the case, there was some reason behind your failure. Understanding the reason why you failed is the first step to dealing with failure and getting back up.
Go back to the circumstances leading up to the failure and try to understand what exactly went wrong. Look at each of the steps you took and figure out which of them contributed to the failure.
When we experience failure, the natural response for most of us to blame and judge ourselves. We berate ourselves and convince ourselves that we were destined to be failures.
However, when you dissect the situation to understand what went wrong, you shift your mindset from blaming the failure on yourself to the specific action or inaction that led to the failure. This makes it a lot easier for you to deal with and overcome failure.
For instance, let’s say you were trying to build a profitable online store, but you’ve finally been forced to shut it down due to poor sales. This failure might leave you feeling like an incompetent person who was never destined to be an entrepreneur.
After analyzing the circumstances leading up to closing down your business, however, you might realize that the actual problem is that you ignored that competitor you thought was too small until it was too late. Once you realize that your business failed as a result of ignoring your competitor and not because you were destined to be a failure in business, it becomes a lot easier to move on from the failure.
According to research by Ethan Kross and Ozlem Ayduk, analyzing the situation as if it happened to someone else instead of yourself can make it easier for you to objectively look at the situation without getting too caught up in the negative emotions that accompanied the failure. This is something the researchers refer to as “self-distancing.”
2. Forgive Yourself
Imagine that someone close to you, such as a sibling or a very close friend, made a mistake that cost you a major business deal or led to the loss of money. While you’d certainly be cross with them, you’d also understand that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Eventually, you’d forgive them for their mistake because you understand that their mistake doesn’t define them.
The ironic thing is that while we can forgive others, most of us find it very hard to forgive ourselves. When we make a mistake, instead of forgiving ourselves like we would have forgiven others, we define ourselves by our mistake.
It is impossible to move on from failure without forgiving yourself. Therefore, after you have identified the mistake that led to the failure, remind yourself that you are not perfect and forgive yourself for making the mistake. If you want to get back up from a failure, you first have to forgive yourself.
3. See What You Can Learn From Your Failure
While failure is generally considered to be something negative, I believe there is something positive about failure. To me, failure is a feedback mechanism. It tells us that there is something about our approach or strategy that is not working. By figuring out what failure is trying to tell you, you can turn it into a learning opportunity.
Trying to see what lessons you can learn from your failure will prevent you from making the same mistakes again in the future, which will increase your chances of success in similar endeavors in the future.
For instance, let’s say that you ended up closing your business because you made the mistake of partnering with someone who was not committed to the business and instead, contributed to running it to the ground. Next time you set up a business, you will either go at it alone or exercise greater caution when picking a partner and therefore, you’re less likely to end up with another uncommitted partner who could run your business to the ground.
Some of the strategies you can use to turn failure into a learning opportunity include reevaluating your planning, reevaluating your preparation, reevaluating your execution, and focusing on the variables that were under your control.
Aside from preventing you from repeating the same mistakes, viewing your failure as a learning opportunity shifts your mindset. You stop viewing the failure as a negative thing and embrace the lessons that it has taught you. This makes it a lot easier to get back up and move forward.
4. Focus on Your Strengths
When we experience major failures, our instinct is to peg the failure on some inadequacy on our part. While this is somewhat true—the failure was most probably caused by something you didn’t do right—it doesn’t mean that you are inadequate in every aspect of life.
You still have things your key strengths and things you’re good at, and by focusing on these strengths, you can chart a path to move you forward from failure.
Apple founder Steve Jobs provides a good example of the importance of focusing on your strengths after a major failure. Jobs hit rock bottom when he was ousted from Apple, the company he had founded with his friend Steve Wozniak.
However, instead of drowning in self-pity, Jobs quickly shifted his focus on his strengths. He was a talented innovator who was great at coming up with new ideas for next-generation computers and devices, and this is the strength he focused on.
After his ouster, Jobs quickly founded another computer company known as NeXT. A few years down the line, Apple would end up acquiring NeXT from Jobs, and eventually, Jobs made his way back to Apple as the CEO. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Just like Steve Jobs, after experiencing a major failure, don’t sulk and drown yourself in self-pity. Instead, make a list of your strengths and come up with a plan on how you’re going to capitalize on these strengths to move forward and get past your failure.
5. Get Support and Inspiration From Trusted People
One of the things that makes it hard for people to move on from failure is the fact that most of us close ourselves off to the outside world after experiencing a major failure. However, there’s no reason for you to go through your failure alone. Talking to someone you trust allows you to get things off your chest and get rid of the negative emotions that come with failure.
Another benefit of talking to and getting support from another person is that a third party can look at your failure objectively, without having their judgment clouded by emotions. Therefore, it is a lot easier for them to spot something you might have missed or to identify a mistake that might have led to your failure since they’re not affected by personal bias.
In addition, talking to someone you trust allows them to encourage you and remind you that failure is not the end of the world—that you can get through the failure and get your life back on track.
Aside from talking to people close to you, you can also get inspiration by reading blog posts or listening to podcasts from people who have gone through similar failures and were able to get their life back on track.
This will show you that it is possible to get past your failure and infuse you with the optimism you need to get back up and move ahead. These people will also share the lessons they learned during their journey to overcome their failure, which can also be very useful as you embark on your journey to rise back from your failure.
6. Take Action
The problem with failure is that it robs you of your energy and demotivates you. After experiencing a major failure, you don’t feel like you have it in you to try something new again. You are afraid of experiencing another heart-wrenching failure. However, this is not the time for inactivity.
If you already identified your strengths and came up with a plan on how to capitalize on these strengths to move forward, now is the time to put that plan into action.
Resist the temptation to procrastinate, and don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. After experiencing failure, you might want to make sure that everything is perfect before you move on. However, perfection is a myth, and if you wait for perfection, you will never move ahead.
Therefore, just come up with the best plan you can, make sure you’ve incorporated the lessons learned from your failure, and start taking action to get back up.
7. Believe in Yourself and Keep Dreaming Big
Even though you have just gone through a major failure, don’t lose faith in yourself. Before this one failure, you had several other wins and accomplishments, and guess what—even though you’ve experienced failure, you’re still the same person who achieved all those previous wins, and you still have the talent, knowledge, and skills that helped you achieve them.
Therefore, don’t lose faith in yourself just because something didn’t work out. When a child is learning how to walk, they will fall down several times. However, never will you hear a child say “maybe this walking thing is not for me.” No. They believe in themselves and keep trying until they finally master this crucial skill.
Similarly, you should believe that you still have in yourself what it takes to succeed, and then go for it. Actually, perseverance and an unstoppable will to win is one of the essential characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
Finally, even though you’ve just gone through the disappointment of failure, don’t let failure dim your dreams. Hold onto your big ambitions, envision yourself achieving success, and go at it again—this time with experience and great lessons under your belt.
Failure is an inevitable part of life. However, you shouldn’t let failure hold you back or keep you from going after your dreams. Instead, let it motivate you to get back up and pursue your aspiration.
It is possible to pick yourself up and rise again after failure. You can start with these 7 ways to help you get back after a major failure.
More Tips on How to Get Back Up After a Failure
Featured photo credit: Stephen Leonardi via unsplash.com