So you failed, what’s next?

1. Learn from your experiences

For most people, it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t work out. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything were always neat and tidy and nothing disruptive ever happened in life? You might want to be tempted to dwell on something in the past. It’s common to dream of a different outcome or hope that things would have turned out another way. Unfortunately, you can’t wind back the clock but you can learn from your experiences. 

The world we live in is comprised of a bunch of constantly moving parts. Sometimes things don’t work out and this can happen for a number of reasons. Focusing on and wishing that things occurred in the past differently, isn’t going to contribute to real change in your current situation.  The thing that will get you out of the situation is creating a plan to move forward and acting on that plan. It’s important to understand that if you’re up to big things in life, you’ll stumble along the way at points. No one wants to make mistakes along but it’s an inevitable part of learning and growing.

2. Take responsibility for what happened and own it

When you blame other people or your circumstances, it takes power away from you. It diminishes your ability to confront and deal with what happened. In a way, by not taking responsibility for something, you’re cheating yourself. You’re not allowing the lesson sink in. By not admitting that the outcome turned out different than what you wanted, you’re pretending. This goes against the things you know deep-down and will result in a lingering or lack of closure.

By owning your mistakes and taking responsibility, you’ll find freedom. You have the power to face them honestly and reflect on what happened. You also have the ability to discover how to do better next time. Part of taking responsibility is dealing with the actual grit of life, your company, or your relationships. A lot of people don’t want to face their failures and they are afraid of being confronted by them. Ironically, facing what happened is the fastest way to learn, move on, and remain an open and vibrant person in the world.

3. Being jaded doesn’t help anyone, especially yourself

It’s super easy to get frustrated and resigned about stuff as you go through life. This can happen in startup life, it can happen with families, with relationships and all over if you’re not careful. You will attract more of what you are projecting through. If you’re frustrated and constantly venting about every little thing, one day you might wake up and find yourself surrounded by other complainers. Your conversations will be cyclical in their structure, even if the words being said might be different. Always blaming the world or circumstance, or people for your problems – yuck.

The same goes for putting yourself into a positive situation and being around people who are ambitious and happy. You tend to be the sum of the people who you surround yourself with and good people tend to attract more good people and vise versa. Your attitude everyday will determine a lot. 

You can choose to not let something that happened to you define who you are. You get to determine whether you’re happy with your life and how you make choices. Being jaded about things that happened in the past is only going to bring you more frustration. It’s always good to flex the positivity muscle, even if you don’t feel like it on a given day, week, month, or year.

4. Good and bad stuff happens to everyone

There are no guarantees in life and if there were, the world would probably be an incredibly boring and predictable place anyways. Sometimes life is just arbitrary and it can work in your favor or it can really put you at a disadvantage. 

Are you curling up in a ball and retreating when you face opposition or do you keep getting up again, and again? How you react when things that happen to you or come your way, will determine the outcome. How you respond to circumstances will determine how your life goes. It shapes your experience of the world and yourself. Your reactions can result in getting stuck at points and feeling bogged down or having a successful, fulfilling, and happy life. 

How you react to things doesn’t just apply to events in life that might knock you off your balance or course. It applies to “good” things that happen to you if you get lucky. Many people often say that good luck happens to people who work hard for it. It’s also true that sometimes people get fortunate and fall into a lucky situation arbitrarily. Many people who win the lottery end up broke again shortly after or become unhappy because of how they’ve reacted to what has happened to them. Always be conscious of how you handle situations and react. 

Both good or bad stuff can happen at any time and it can happen to anyone at any stage of life. You get to choose you respond to your situations. Every moment counts and that you can get through the tough times and appreciate the good ones. No matter what happens you’ll be ok and you can handle whatever is thrown at you.

5. Share with others and let it out

Don’t bottle up all of your frustrations when something didn’t go how you planned. The more you keep it inside, the more weight it will feel like you’re carrying. Sometimes all you need is that friend to tell you everything will be ok. In conversation, someone might suggest solutions to get you out of your rut and moving again. By sharing, you’ll be on to bigger and better things. 

Sharing what’s going on, whether it be good, bad or anywhere in between allows you to express yourself. Sometimes the things you were worried about, disappear when you’ve had a conversation about them. When you keep things inside and continually mull over them, you’ll likely end up making a mountain out of a molehill. 

Even if something happened 10 or 20 years ago, you can still talk to people about it and open up. People are often much more supportive and receptive than you might think. Those conversations may just be the very thing that allows you to get closure, move on, and be freed up from the shackles of failure.

6. What was missing to have the outcome you wanted?

A lot of times, we focus on something being wrong, bad, or a mistake. Putting something in the box of being wrong, automatically means that you messed up. It might be seen as awful, incorrect, or flat out bad. It’s true, there may be an impact on you based on what happened with your failure. But thinking that this is the end-all mistake will cause you to get too hung up on it and not be solutions oriented.

Instead, look at what was missing so you don’t continue to make the same mistake over and over again. When you focus on what was not there and missing, you can start to be effective in thinking about what you could do next time to create a better outcome. Looking at what might help next time instead of everything that went south, will create a positive through space. Then you can come up with ideas for what could be possible next time around. 

Let’s say you clearly hired the wrong person at your company and you realized it was a failure. You might think, because I hired the wrong person, everyone I hire going forward is going to have similar issues. You may also say something like – it’s really difficult to find good people out there. If focused on what could be there next time to succeed, the internal dialogue will be completely different. You might say, now I know who to not hire and here are the list of qualities it will require next time to get the results the company set out to achieve. Do you hear the difference between the two conversations you might have with yourself?

7. Sometimes the timing is just off and it’s too early or too late

You might have had timing that was slightly off when you launched your company or idea. Or you got your solution out there too late. Who knows! It’s tempting to sit around and think about all the things that might have been. Some reflection can be good but continually mulling something over too much can just cause you to worry about the situation. It can make you feel bad, and not generate any real progress for you to move on. 

At the end of the day, it may have been as simple as timing. There are so many factors that determine if something does well and turns out how you want. Whatever happened, you are where you are today, here, and now. The good news is that you can pick yourself up and try, try again.

8. Your failure doesn’t have to define you

You can get back up and live to fight another day. Some of the toughest lessons in life can turn into the biggest, most prolific realizations. Failure at one point in your life, relationships and career, can forever change you for the better. As they always say, pressure makes diamonds. Building the muscle of tenacity and resilience is one of the best things you can do to invest in yourself. 

Sure, it’s not always going to be fun or easy and it may not be what you emotionally want to do at any given time. You can choose to get up again and again in life and not let specific instances drag you down and keep you there. You’re capable of rising above, learning, and getting through even the toughest of times. 

The more practice you have at overcoming obstacles and challenges in life, the better you’ll get at it and the faster you’ll rebound. You can develop the habit of springing back quickly. Even if it doesn’t seem like or feel like what you want to do today. It’s something that you can always practice and remind yourself of as you move through challenges.

9. Indecision will keep you right where you are

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably up against a challenge. You’ve got to keep going if you want to get through this and want it for yourself. Sometimes the simple step of being in action on something will lift your spirits and get you out of the funk that you’re in.  If you’re an entrepreneur with a business that went under, maybe it’s time to get a job somewhere for a little bit to get you back on your feet. 

Just start somewhere. We’ve all been in a place where we didn’t want to get out of bed that day or face something that needed to be said or done. This can be taking action on something you’ve been avoiding or putting off. It can be taking action on something that you were afraid to do but you’ve wanted to work on. It can be sending off an email, cleaning your apartment, contacting a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Get the gears moving to make failure a thing of the past.

It’s attractive to want to keep thinking about the very best path and optimize for success. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with the options to the point that we aren’t able to choose a direction. Complete that thing you’ve been dreading or pondering for too long. Face it and have it be finished so you can move on. I know for me, getting through those challenges and moving forward is always a powerful feeling. It gives me more energy and focus to do other things and leave the past behind.

10. Get closure on what happened

Whenever possible try and get closure. You may not always get closure so be prepared for that too. You have to be ok without getting the closure you might want, in the way you want it.

If you can get it, closure is important so you can move on and create a space for something new. Tie up any loose ends. Say whatever needs to be said. Forgive whoever you need to forgive. Take responsibility for whatever it is you need to. Let go of ego and pride and take ownership over your life. Admit when things don’t go as planned. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t resent the world for not showing up exactly as you want all the time.

There will always be challenges and setbacks along the way. You don’t want them to happen and you don’t hope for them but they will crop up from time to time. Make your life a blank slate so that you’re dedicating yourself to things and following through. Don’t let your prior failure experiences weigh on you and learn from them. We all make mistakes and how you respond when things don’t turn out how you wanted makes all the difference. 

Life is too short not to get back up and try again and go after the things that really matter to you.

– Matt Grigsby

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