Have you had a failure that made you not want to get out of bed? I’ve just come back from a public speaking contest where I was unable to make the next round. I practiced hard but was unable to come up with a satisfying message. I worked hard but it felt like my efforts were wasted.
I wanted to redeem myself immediately but knew I couldn’t. I would have to wait and live with the negative feelings for a year until the next contest. Big failures crush your self-esteem, your confidence and your drive. Your morale is depleted and you question your goals and your self-worth. Getting out of bed hurts and you don’t want to try again.
While staying in bed sounds nice, you have to get up. Even with failure stinging your heart, you have to keep moving towards the future.
Motivating yourself again is tough but here are a few things you can tell yourself to feel positive again:
1. Failure Was Bound To Happen
Everyone wants to avoid failure, but you cannot be successful without it. The road to success has a few failures, it’s unavoidable. Success is not the smooth journey people make it out to be.
Before my loss, I had been winning at other public speaking contests. I did get the feeling of invincibility, but unfortunately I knew this would not last. As much as I hate failure, it is part of life. You can’t keep succeeding without encountering failure. You were going to fail eventually. It doesn’t mean that you deliberately tried to fail, but it had to happen at some point.
“Success is measured by how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George S. Patton
2. There Will Be A Second Chance
Unless you quit chasing your dreams entirely, there will always be another chance to try again. It is difficult to accept after a big failure, but deep down you know it is true. Even though I lost the contest, I knew there would be another one next year. It’s a long wait but I would be able to compete and hopefully succeed where I previously failed. Life is long enough that there are multiple opportunities to reach your goal. Things can change and you may not be facing the same landscape that you faced before, but that doesn’t mean success is gone forever.
3. There Might Be Something To Learn
As much as we like learning from our successes, our failures still have lessons they can teach us. Revisiting your failure might give you insight into why things went the way they did, and how you can stop it from happening the next time. Failed to prepare as much as you believed? Attention divided due to other issues? Underestimated the obstacles you had to overcome?
I’ve done all of these and more, which has resulted in failures that I’m not proud of. I still take a look to see what I can change next time. Looking at these mistakes and being honest with myself hurts, but it helps me learn what I can do differently. Don’t let the opportunity to learn pass you by because it’s painful to reflect. If you know there is something you can do to improve, take it as a learning experience.
4. Stop Thinking “That Should Be Me”
I should have landed that sale. I should be the one holding the trophy. I should be experiencing success instead of that person. It’s easy to fall into that line of thinking, especially if you were extremely close to succeeding. You can’t help but think you deserve success instead of failure, but this traps you in the past. It makes you reimagine your failure into success, and it feels wonderful. You want to live in that world.
It’s not a good thought to have. By believing that you should have succeeded, you’re not moving forward. Your mind will be replaying that moment, convincing you that everyone else was wrong and you were right. It’s hard to resist and you will inevitably have that thought, but success is not about thinking about what should have been. It’s about working on what could be.
5. You Are More Than Your Failures
After failing at something you put all your effort in, you can feel pathetic. You would not have failed if you were competent, if you were the person you said you were. But since you didn’t succeed, you must not be as great as you thought. Public speaking is my specialty, and I am upset when I fail. I feel that if I’m not good at my specialty, I’m a failure. If I can’t be the best speaker in the room, my entire worth as a human is non-existent.
But failing doesn’t mean you’re incompetent. Everyone fails, even the successful people you idolize. Failing doesn’t mean you’re doomed to mediocrity, it just means that you have more work to do. You have succeeded before, which means you’re not as bad as you believe. Failure is not representative of your ability. You may have to change, but you never lost your potential.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
I’ve had to live with my failures for a long time, but every time I licked my wounds and prepared myself for the next opportunity to succeed. Failure always hurts, especially if it’s big. You question your ability and your chances to succeed in the future.
The good news is, there will always be another time to succeed. Failing is part of life, it happens, but you don’t have to fail the same way twice. Learn from your failures, know that it doesn’t define your ability and get your head out of the past. You didn’t succeed today, but there’s always tomorrow.
How do you recover from failure? Comment below!