The process of working toward goals can involve failures and setbacks, but you can use these events to your advantage. Creating a personal strategy to respond to failure can help you overcome challenges and achieve your goals more efficiently. Understanding how to implement coping strategies can help you at any stage of your professional development, from the initial hiring process to the later stages of your career.
In this article, we discuss the steps you can take to overcome failure and create a positive outcome.
Why is it important to understand how to overcome failure?
When you experience failure in your professional life, you might experience ill feelings that can make it challenging to think about your experience objectively. Having a predefined strategy can help you put the event in context, remember your personal value and manage any future challenges that you encounter without fear. As you develop resiliency to failure, it may be easier for you to try alternative techniques and learn new lessons, which can broaden your skills and help you achieve greater professional satisfaction.
How to overcome failure for a positive outcome
It’s important to develop skills for overcoming challenges and setbacks so that you can continue to find satisfaction and make progress in your professional life. Here are some steps you can implement to help you work through failure:
1. Accept your feelings
The first step in overcoming failure is to acknowledge how you feel. You may feel sad, disappointed, angry or hurt after a professional failure. Recognizing these feelings and connecting them to the failure itself can help you realize that you don’t have to experience these negative thoughts indefinitely. Allowing yourself to feel this way for a short amount of time can help you release these feelings and proceed with everything you want to accomplish.
2. Take a break
To be able to look at the event more objectively, you can give yourself a mental break by doing a different activity. If you’re in the office, this might mean taking a short five-minute and going outside or using your lunch break for an activity you enjoy. If your work schedule is busy, you might work on a different task for a few hours or days. This way, you can be calm and reasonable when you return to your challenge. Concentrating on something else can help you avoid overthinking the situation.
3. Put the event into perspective
It’s important to remember that failure doesn’t represent you as a person. Think about the event’s real consequences to understand the degree of its impact, and consider all the aspects of your life that your setback doesn’t influence. You might also make a list of your professional accomplishments or personal strengths to remember your unique values and advantages. If you’re struggling to think objectively, imagine what you’d say or do if a friend had been in this situation, and then apply that kindness and advice to yourself.
4. Find things to learn
Work to understand why the problem happened and what caused the negative result. This can help you achieve more positive outcomes in the future. You might ask yourself questions like “What was the series of choices I made that allowed this event to happen?” or “Which choice might I make differently next time to change the outcome?” If you find it challenging to compose clear answers, consider asking a leader or supervisor for their perspective and advice.
5. Take responsibility and accountability
After you’ve thought about what exactly happened, take responsibility for your role in the event. This might mean describing your role to a coworker who is responsible for resolving it, apologizing for your mistakes or reporting any events necessary through company policy. Then, take accountability for your actions by understanding whether you’ve caused harm to others and working to address your mistakes.
6. Discuss the event
Talking about the event with someone you trust can be encouraging. They may suggest new opportunities or new perspectives on the failure that make it easier to use constructively. If you’re able to talk to a professional in your field outside of your workplace, like a mentor or professor, they may be able to give you advice about how to move forward in your specific field.
7. Learn about solutions and behavior models
Research can be a powerful tool since you can use it to learn from the experiences of others. If you’re facing a professional setback, you may choose to learn about leaders in your field by reading interviews or memoirs. Understanding how others failed and recovered can show you how you can recuperate and return to any task you need to complete with improved capabilities. You may also be able to normalize setbacks in your career, which can minimize the time it takes you to recover in the future.
8. Create a plan
Using what you learned from the previous steps, you can establish a plan for moving forward with your goals. Your plan may include implementing new techniques that you learned from a conversation with a mentor, applying for a new job opportunity or taking a course to strengthen specific skills. As you document your plan, try to include measurable elements and steps for accountability so that you can better assess your progress. Create a schedule and establish deadlines for specific goals, and aim to meet with a mentor or friend to discuss your progress.
Tips for building resilience to failure
Some personal habits and tools can make it easier to respond to failures and challenges. Here are some tips for building your resilience:
Challenge yourself regularly. By looking for opportunities to try new hobbies and tasks in your professional field, you can get used to learning by doing, find new things that bring you joy and strengthen your ability to respond to failure by understanding how it works in the learning process.
Develop positive habits. Habits that boost your emotional and physical stamina can give you the energy and emotional range to respond better in challenging situations. You may consider adjusting your diet, ensuring you get enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise and meditation.
Consider risks and benefits. When deciding whether to take on an advanced job or a complicated task, think about the possible risks of failure and the benefits of success. When you’ve considered these factors in advance, you can better prepare for all possible outcomes.
Practice realistic optimism. Focus on positive short-term and long-term outcomes for all your projects. This can help you remain motivated to reach those outcomes and help you think of other good possibilities if you miss one opportunity.
Identify thought patterns. Try to recognize the patterns in your thought processes so that you can recognize early signs of negativity. Redirecting your thought patterns can also help strengthen your optimism and put your actions into perspective.
Change your method rather than your goals. Instead of giving up on something after a failure, consider other methods for achieving your goals. This might mean seeking job experience instead of academic education, applying for a different position or trying again at a later date in a different setting.