Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How To Deal With Failure

 

This lovely guest post comes to us via Kim Lawler of Finest Imaginary fame.  She blogs regularly about food, photography, design and working for yourself.  And she designed my awesome new portfolio site!  Drop by her blog and say hi!


I have failed on numerous occasions in my life. From that time I didn’t get accepted to a certain college, to the time I got a D on my Chemistry AS Level. I’d like to say that these failures didn’t derail me, but then I’d be completely lying. As far as I can remember both of those incidents ended up with me in a tantrum like state, crying and wailing that I wasn’t good at ANYYYYTTTHINNNGGG EVVVEERRRRR. A-hem.

But then, after allowing myself time in my pit of doom, I’d pick myself up and figure out what I needed to do to fix the fails. I applied for another college, and I retook my Chemistry AS level exams and came out with a B at A level. These two incidents really stand out to me when I hit road bumps in my career, just because you fail once doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing if it does happen.

5 Things to do when you fail

Without trying to sound like a self-help book, these are the things that have worked for me in the past couple of years when things haven’t exactly gone to plan.

1. I applied for a rather large craft fair a year or so ago and got rejected, it was a bit of a blow, but I didn’t let it put me off. I upped my game, got better at what I do, and this year I got accepted to an even BIGGER craft fair.  One of the most important things you need to do when you fail is take stock of the situation. Why did you fail? Was there something you could’ve done to produce a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? Could you be better prepared next time?

My recent trip to Liberty resulted in a fail that I couldn’t control, at least not at the time, and I learned so much from that experience that the fail was totally worth while! Would I do it again even knowing that it wouldn’t come to anything? Of course!

2.  Get angry, get mad, get passionate - you’re allowed, you know? You’re allowed to be mad that something didn’t work out, at least for a little while, because being mad will make you realize how much you really, REALLY want this thing. And how ridiculous would it be to not try again?

3. Remember that you’re not a failure, you just haven’t found the successful way of doing something yet. You’re only a failure if you stop trying, and what’s the point in that?

4.  “Take a deep breath and count to 10″, “If it was easy everyone would be doing it”, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Time to take note of all those things your Grandma used to say!

5.  Albert Einstein once said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” so be sane and make some changes. Use your failure as feedback & experience and come back with a better strategy.

The difference between being successful and never getting what you want is how you deal with failure. Use it as a catalyst to improve yourself, your business or your craft, not as an excuse to give up! Don’t look upon failure as a negative thing, failure is proof that you’re on your way to success!

What have you failed at?  How did you get past it?

14 comments

  1. I do NOT do well with failure at all! I think it's harder for those of us who usually excel to deal with the occasional failure since we hav very little practice at failing gracefully. Our last big special anniversary trip was mostly a failure,and I grew a lot & learned many lessons trying to salvage it. My marriage was almost a failure, but I"m lucky we stuck it out and are making it work. This post about 100 no's has been sticking with me lately.

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  2. Heh... Failure is my middle name. My dad even told me I can't start a blog because "No one wants to read about how you fail all the time..." I fail at many things on a daily basis. I fail at things I really did not want to fail at on a monthly basis. And my parents reinforce my failure by encouraging me to give up and "get with reality".

    I used to take it badly. I used to think "I just am not capable of anything good." I got over that. When I fail, I've figured out how to use it to my advantage. What did I do that didn't work? What was I NOT doing that maybe I can do next time? And how can I leverage the fact that I even tried to start out on top with my next endeavour (that one is an advanced technique ;D)?

    I've failed so much that I'm now pretty much used to it. I start projects without even giving thought to "I might fail" I mean that thought comes up a little bit, but its like a dust particle I brush off now. I just have SUCKED really badly at a lot of things. When you spend 23 years sucking at stuff, people telling you that you suck, and then spend time trying to learn how to live with being suck-y... failure just no longer becomes an excuse to NOT go for it.

    On that same token, I've achieved a lot of success with things. So when my inspirations say "Fail and fail again" or "Just keep going." I take them seriously because I've finally got to experience what that means.

    - Udo, the girl (girlaftercollege.com)

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  3. Amanda, I used to be so jealous of people like you. And to be honest, a bit of jealousy still comes up. I'm currently friends with someone who reminds me of you. I think, "God, that girl just wins at everything she touches... why can't I be more like that?" everytime she updates her facebook status (we're REAL LIFE friends, not just FB friends, lol).

    It took me a while to get over that feeling. It used to CONSUME me. So on top of "I am not capable of doing anything good" I thought "OTHER PEOPLE are capable, but I never am." which stings.

    What I failed to realize when I was younger was that everyone -- everyone -- is different. Everyone -- everyone -- is failing at something (even if its "small" like burning their breakfast in the morning). And everyone -- everyone -- could learn something from ME (and vice versa).

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  4. The interesting thing that usually happens is that when I 'fail' at something, I usually get a much bigger and brighter opportunity later. So one night I'm curled up in the fetal position, crying about not 'making it' while the next night I'm ecstatic about a new opportunity.

    Life is funny (and wonderful) that way.

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  5. This is so absolutely pertinent to my life right now. I'm currently (lucky) be be attending college, BUT I am 3,000 miles away from the college I still desperately want to attend. I applied as a transfer this year (I'm a freshman) and I got rejected. On top of that Huge Fail, all of my friends are having the time of their lives at their first choice universities, and making friends and connections that I am not. Obviously, I am still not over the "Get angry, get mad, get passionate" part!

    When I feel really down, I try to remind myself of things I am good at, or things that make me feel like a Win type of person, such as; baking yummy things, writing poetry, or just skyping with people I love.

    This post was extremely helpful, I'm still in the process of trying to move on...it's hard when the Fail will stick with me for an entire year until I can apply to transfer again.

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  6. I have a hard time dealing with failure - I have a hard time feeling like there wasn't something I could have done/planned better/etc. The best way to get better though, is to practice. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

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