This is What You Should Do When You Fail
My favorite quotes on failure is this: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” — Ken Robinson
My failures have never stopped me from starting over or creating new projects or experimenting new ideas. I have lost thousands of dollars in the process. But I have not stopped experimenting. I never will. I persist. Because it matters.
When you fail, adapt rapidly and keep moving!
Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist says:
Life is experienced as a constant, never-ending shift between successes and failures — sometimes occurring within moments of one another. To be human is to fail. We know this to be true from personal experience.
You shouldn’t give up just because you have witnessed too many failures or have seen others fail too many times in the same industry or niche you intend to pursue. Failure can bring so much to learn about ourselves and how we work. Each time you bounce back from problems and rise above obstacles, you will grow mentally stronger.
In his book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure. Tim Harford says “success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time.”
Failure is not a sign of personal incompetence. It’s just one experiment that has gone wrong. I keep moving. That’s what matters. Jonathan Mildenhall once said “If you don’t have room to fail, you don’t have room to grow.
The most important thing for me is that I don’t allow my failed projects to get the better of me. And it feels just as horrible for me as it does for anyone else.
I get down on myself, feel guilty, try to avoid thinking about it, would rather hide it from everyone else. Failing at things really suck. And yet, I get back up and try again.
When I try over and over again, I eventually make a breakthrough. “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” says Seth Godin.
Don’t let your failed projects and work consume you. Get back up and try again. Your mistakes should be your motivation, not your excuses. And no matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
So what’s the secret? Well, there isn’t any. You just have to keep trying. Carry on trying.
Here’s what you can do when you fail in life or business.
Maintain a flexible mindset
When you are rigidly trying to stick to a plan or achieve a goal, and things don’t go according to plan, then you feel like crap and things can get derailed. But if you have a more flexible mindset, and think, “I might not be able to go according to plan but that’s OK because things change,” then it’s not a disaster when you get off track. There’s no single track that you have to stay on.
Every attempt is about learning!
When you fail, that’s actually really good information. Before you failed, you thought that something would work (a prediction), but then real-world information came in that told you it didn’t work. That means you now know something you didn’t know before. That’s excellent. Now you can adjust your plan, figure something new out, try a new method. Keep learning.
Ask for help
Nobody successfully navigates life alone. When the hope inside us begins to fade, we look for it in others. When I’m struggling with something, I know that I can either give up, or I can figure out a better way. But it’s not always easier to figure out a better way, so I reach out to my network of trusted friends, and I ask them for help.
They might give me simple, obvious, why-didn’t-I-see-that advice that I need, or brilliant tips, or accountability. Whatever happens, you can reach out to people who have been there before. It’s never too late to seek help.
Remind yourself why it’s important
It’s easy to give up on something, because not doing it is always easier. But giving up means you’re losing something important, like helping someone, and so if my reasons for doing something aren’t just selfish (pleasure, vanity), then I will renew my vigor for the struggle. This alone is often enough to get me going again, especially if I’m doing it to help someone important.
I realize that I’m far from perfect, and that the guilty secrets I hide inside myself are no different than anyone else’s. You guys are just like me, in the inside, and while we all share the commonality of failing to live up to our better nature, we also share the bond of being able to start again. Your goal should be progress, not perfection.
Take time to recover and start over
Failure shouldn’t stop you from trying out something new. It makes you stronger and better prepared for new projects. Yes, failure is undesirable.Yes, failing is never what we plan for when we pursue a goal.
However, more than likely, you will recover from failure. Once you’ve recovered, you are better equipped to chase after more dreams, more secure in knowing that you’ve survived a failure.
Give yourself a break
If I’m struggling, sometimes my mind or body just needs a break from the discipline. So I’ll take a day or two off, or a week, or even more. There’s no set time that’s right for every situation, so I’ve been learning to go by feel.
For some things, I’ve taken a few weeks off from trying to learn something. If you are consistently failing at getting stuff done, find a new way to get it done. Change the process, routine or the approach.
There is always a better way to get something done. You may not be able to take a long break from work, but the point is, give yourself a break and get back to it with a new mindset.
Always remember: you have more than one shot to create the life you want
You will screw up at some point in life, and that’s okay so long as you learn from them and figure out a different path towards the same goal.
The biggest screw up you can make is to just give up and accept that you can’t succeed because of you who you are or where you come from. If you are going through hell, don’t stop. And if you catch hell, don’t hold it.
So start again when you get it wrong. People who overestimate what they’re capable of are far more likely to actually, get off their ass and try. You will stumble, you may fail, but you are not your failure!
One thing is absolutely certain, if you REALLY want to succeed in life, if you want to do something special, something incredible, if you want to fulfill your dreams… failure is inevitable.
How do you deal with failures?