July 2018

What to do when you fail

By: Yasmin Winther Simonsen
Projects Abroad Volunteer

Why does failure cause some people to give up on a dream while it drives others to pursue it with even more passion than before? It depends on how you approach a setback: failure can be part of the long road to success - but only if you think about it in a productive way.

Failing is a natural part of the growing and maturing process of the human race. We fail because we are growing, we are exploring and we want solutions to life's problems. We were meant to be curious, and curiosity will eventually lead us to success, but failure is a part of it all.

Unfortunately, many people see failure as a sign of weakness, bad luck, and bad attempts at trying to improve our lives. Whenever we fail, we are tempted to fall apart, get down on ourselves, and feel like our lives are over. We question our intelligence and reason for doing what we did in the first place. However, since everyone makes mistakes, you must remember that the mistake is never the issue, it is the way you choose to deal with your emotions when you fail. You will feel bad when you fail, which is normal, but giving up on your dreams is never the right thing to do.

Overcoming failure is all about finding it in yourself to start again. First, you must overcome the sense of failure. The failure of a project, relationship, or another goal might initially overwhelm you, but if you acknowledge your disappointment and accept your mistakes you will be able to move on. Realistic optimism will help you form a new plan without setting yourself up for failure.

- Remind yourself why it is important

It is easy to give up on something because not doing it is always easier, but giving up means you are losing something important that you have worked hard for. Just because you might be failing the first time does not mean you will fail the next time or the time after that. Remind yourself why you were doing it in the first place. Was it because you were helping someone important to you? Because you were trying to help yourself? Were you trying to get one step closer to your dream? Remind yourself of the reason and try again. Your goal should be progress, not perfection.

- Ask for help

Nobody successfully navigates life alone. When the hope inside us begins to fade, we look for it in others. When you are struggling you can either give up or you can find a better way. Finding the better way is not always easy, so reaching out to your network can always help. They might give you simple, obvious advice, or brilliant tips, or accountability. Whatever happens, you can reach out to people who have been there before. It is never too late to seek help.

- Remember that everyone fails

As human beings, we are guaranteed to mess up and that does not exclude anyone. There are no road maps for dealing with life, so we will make mistakes. Even if someone else has done the job before, to take it to another level you run the risk of making a mistake. Do not be discouraged by that, but see it as an indication that you are on to something special. Look at what you have done and work harder, but do not give up. You will eventually succeed if you do not quit.

- Give yourself some time

Failure should not 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 have recovered, you are better prepared to chase after more dreams, more secure in knowing that you have survived a failure.

- Remember that failure is a chance to improve yourself

If everything came easy, you would not have an opportunity to learn new things. Each time you fail, you can learn something new. Whether you discover new solutions or you gain more insight, failure can help you do better next time. When you find that you are making mistakes doing the right thing, do not become discouraged, it could mean you are on the right track. Be encouraged and motivated knowing that your mistakes are helping you to become better at what you are doing. You will also become stronger and more knowledgeable. Work hard and make sure you learn something from your mistakes every time. To improve and succeed at any task, you must be willing to take the risk and taking risk means you might fail.

- The "what is next" attitude

The best way to deal with failure is to move on to what is next. One of the great tools you need in life is a what is next attitude.

- What is the next adventure?
- What is the next thing we are going to do?
- What is the next journey that I am going to take?
- What is the next business?
- What is the next project I am going to create?

People who dwell either on their past successes or past failures have one thing in common: they both live in the past. You have to be future-focused. You have to be forward-focused. You have to think, "It is another day and I am getting up and I am getting after it." The best way to deal with failure is to focus on what is next. Move forward and get excited about what is next.

Do not 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 is, you are still way ahead of everyone who is not trying. 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.

Be afraid but do it anyway
Most people in our culture are riddled with fear. It is running our lives, taking the wheel in most of our decision-making, without us even noticing. Fear is sneaky, and it shows up in all kinds of disguises. If we let it, fear can keep us locked up in the prison of comfort and predictability. Until you see it for what it is, it is hard to have the right relationship with fear. [...]
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