Since we are human, it is to be expected that we are not going to succeed at everything we do. We are not perfect. We have flaws, we make poor choices and sometimes we try to do something and we don’t succeed. Failure can be looked at as not achieving a goal we have set out for ourselves. However I think a better definition comes from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky; we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take. In other words not even trying is failure. We are all going to experience disappointments or failures all throughout life, what is important is having healthy ways to cope so we can keep moving forward and find the path to success. Here are a few things to consider when you’ve been knocked down with disappointment.
- Feel it. You had a plan and things didn’t work out how you thought. It’s okay to be disappointed. Cry, be upset, vent, but put a time cap on it. Maybe you give yourself a day, a full 24 hours or an evening. Try not make it much more than 24 hours because you don’t want to get sucked into the pity party. Use this time to feel your loss and disappointment before you start to regroup.
- Don’t take it personally. I failed is not the same thing as I am a failure. Don’t let a lack of success at something become your identity. Failure is part of success and those who have achieved great things in life often experience the most failure. Achieving success isn’t about getting it right the first time, but about having the perseverance and determination to keep going when times get tough.
- Reframe it. Use this opportunity to regroup and look at what worked for you and want didn’t. What can be tweaked or reworked to help get you to success? Sometimes reframing might mean taking a step back to see if we are heading in the right direction. I once thought I was going to be a lawyer. After being waitlisted on my first application to law school, I thought if I boosted my LSAT score I would be a shoe in. The second time around I bombed the test. While I was initially devastated, I used the opportunity to explore my reasoning for going to law school and discovered this wasn’t the path for me. This helped ultimately lead me to my current career that I love.
We all experience setbacks and disappointments and it is absolutely okay to be upset by them. Use the opportunity to regroup and move forwards. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from even taking the shot.