Failure is more common than success. All those people you see sitting at the podium and telling people their life stories overcame multiple failures before they stumbled onto that one life-changing success that made them an inspiration for millions. Yet they won’t dwell on their failures for more than a minute.
Want to know why that is the case? Because nobody likes to hear about the mistakes the other person committed on their way to glory. All of us are interested in those talks where the successful people give us ‘tricks’ using which we can achieve our goals.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re also looking for a similar trick: there’s none. That might sound crude to some of you. Others might think that we’re hiding something. But that’s the truth. The only ‘trick’ that will lead you to the path of success is knowing how to get back after a massive failure.
Here are multiple proven ways that will help you do just that:
1. Analyze the situation you currently find yourself in
Try to determine what went wrong. What is it that you did – or failed to do – that derailed your path to success? Did you overlook some crucial factors, took a risk that was too big to take, were unable to prepare enough, or trusted someone who didn’t merit your trust.
You need to know that this isn’t an exercise in self-blame. You shouldn’t use it as a tool to beat yourself for your failure. But neither should you deliberately ignore your mistakes that might have been the cause behind your loss. In other words, be pragmatic when analyzing your situation.
Retrace your steps from the final day when you heard you had failed to the first day when you started working towards your goal. Carefully look at each stage and figure out which or how many of these made sure you’d find yourself in your current situation.
Researchers provide us with an excellent trick of analyzing any situation. They say that we should look at it as if someone else was experiencing it, not us. This makes it easier for us to objectively analyze the situation without negative emotions coming in the way of our judgment.
2. Forgive yourself
Imagine for a moment that a very close friend of yours made a huge mistake. One which forced them to lose a lot of money or suffer a massive public backlash. How would you treat them? Would you scold them for their mistake? Or would you tell them that nobody is perfect?
Most of us will take the latter route if we’re to ever deal with such a situation. That’s because we know that the person on the receiving end is already feeling too low. Forcing them to admit their mistake, at this time, would be very cruel. That’s where the irony comes in.
While most of us forgive our loved ones for committing a mistake, we find it extremely hard to forgive ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we like to judge ourselves on a higher standard. This self-judging attitude would be self-defeating in the best of times, when things are going hunky-dory for us.
In the worst of times, when the entire world is criticizing us, our inability to forgive ourselves prevents us from putting things back on track. This is why, once you have analyzed the cause of the situation you currently find yourselves in, the next thing you should do is forgive yourselves.
3. Prepare a list of your strengths and weaknesses
Let me give you the example of a friend of mine. He failed badly, not once but twice, in a college admission test. It was his dream to get into that educational institution. Not being able to achieve it despite making two attempts almost crushed him.
It also made him aware of the need to identify his strengths and weaknesses. Why was it that, despite working twice as hard as any candidate taking the test for the first time, did his second attempt yield as many numbers as the first one? Surely there were areas he could have improved.
He prepared that list sitting beside his UVC robot. It took him around five hours but he didn’t stop until after he had carefully jotted down all of his strengths and weaknesses. This simple-looking exercise did a massive favor to him as he could now work on areas where he lacked.
You need to perform the same exercise too. It is crucial in your road to recovery that you know where you can do better and where you’re already doing good. Undertaking this exercise will force you to work on areas where you aren’t yet where you want to be.
4. Create a list of healthy coping skills
Most of us tend to veer towards bad habits when we’re stressed out. Some succumb to stress eating, whereas others are lured towards smoking. Still others try to zoom out of the situation by getting out of their room, leaving their UVC light behind, and meeting with friends.
There are no prizes for guessing that the latter is an extremely healthy coping skill. Being in the company of people we like to be with keeps our negative emotions in check. As sometimes, it’s as better to forget the dire situation for some time before you have the mental capacity to analyze it.
With this in mind, here are a few coping skills you can practice:
- Practice deep breathing: One of my favorite deep breathing exercises involves taking a deep breath, inhaling while counting to four, waiting a few seconds, and then exhaling while counting to six. It calms my mind and streamlines my pulse rate.
- Calling a loved one: Try to contact them at a time when you know they’d be free. That’s because we want you to stretch the conversation as long as possible. As it will allow you to put your worries at the back of your mind.
- Play with your furry friend: Interacting with your pet has been shown to decrease blood pressure and lower cortisol levels – a hormone that causes stress. It also dumbs down the feeling of loneliness and gives our mood a shot in the arm.
- Listen to your favorite track: Research has shown that listening to our favorite tracks can literally change the brain for the better. As it lowers stress hormones, increases those associated with ‘reward’ and ‘pleasure’ centers, and helps change moods.
- Clean the entire house: My mother always turns to this healthy coping skill when she is feeling stressed out. By the time she is finished putting the whole house in order, the exhaustion has set in, and her worries have gone out the window.
5. Take action
What is it that stops people from succeeding after they have experienced a failure? The fear of another loss. Failure makes us believe that just because our previous actions didn’t go as planned, the ones that will follow will take the same route. Put simply, we’re always bound to fail.
There’s another way failure prevents us from taking action. It keeps on reminding us about the heart-wrenching pain that we felt when we knew that we had fallen short of our goals. The need to save ourselves from experiencing that pain ever again paralyzes us from taking action.
However, as you might have guessed by now, you haven’t come this far only to come this far. The reason you’ve objectively analyzed your mistakes, forgiven yourself for your failings, and have prepared a list of strengths and weaknesses is that you want to correct your situation.
Make sure you don’t procrastinate before taking action. Otherwise, you might be caught up in a situation known as analysis paralysis – which tells you that everything should be perfect before you take another step. Just come up with a plan based on the previous steps and execute it.
How to get back after a major failure? Five steps influence the answer to this question. Foremost among them is analyzing the situation you currently find yourselves in from a third person’s perspective. This will allow you to pinpoint what went wrong and how you could get it right.
The next two steps involve forgiving yourself and preparing a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Forgiving yourself is crucial as without doing it, you won’t be able to move ahead. The self-beating attitude will keep you chained to your current situation.
Then comes the need for practicing healthy coping skills. Perhaps you can keep your negative emotions in check if you’re surrounded by your loved ones. Or it might be the case that playing with your pet or cleaning the house do a better job of keeping you sane.
The final step in your road to recovery requires you to take action. Use all the lessons that your failure and the previous four steps taught you and try to get where you want. Of course, saying it is easier than actually doing it. But unless you can’t imagine it, you might not be able to experience it.