How to get your sh*t together after you fail.
All of us in our lives have seen failure. Most failures might seem like life ending at the time of occurrence but they often play a big role in understanding what went wrong and letting you grow from your mistakes. I am writing this for those of you who have recently seen a failure and I hope this will help you through it. Typically getting out of a failure involves going through multiple stages. Following is how I would classify the stages of failure and how you could get through them.
This is what happens when you have just failed. It feels like this is the end of the world. You enter into a cocoon and shut everyone out. You can’t even get out of your bed and deal with the day. You have this immense feeling that you have not failed but ‘you are a failure’. The more you try to break free from the chains of despair, the more it tries to clench you. The longer you stay in this state of despair and hopelessness, the deeper you get into an abyss of loneliness. Extended exposure of this can lead to a complete death of confidence. This is usually the toughest phase in this cycle and also the most dangerous one. It’s vital to get out of this phase, even though it seems an impossible thing to do at that time. In my experience what helps is getting some ‘Hope’ i.e. Stage 2.
Stage 2 Hope:
When you are dealing with the dilemma of how to deal with life, the next day, or how to find the courage to get out of that bed, what helps is finding and talking to positive people. I would like to share a personal story with you about my wife.
During her engineering days, my wife was unable to write even a single line in one of her final year papers. She had lost the courage to get out of her bed for the next day’s exam. It was only after her father asked her to just go and take a stroll in the exam hall and its okay if she didn’t feel like writing anything in the next papers, that she was able to get through them. The moment she thought it was not a big deal for her father and what was ‘the worst that could happen’, she got some courage and was hopeful that she can do better than what she was expected to do.
It is important to understand that you have failed the task and not your entire life. Even though its a failure, there are going to be instances in life when you will fail bigger but that ‘should not stop you’ from becoming what you are destined to be.
Stage 3 Accept:
One of the most important steps in dealing with failure and moving ahead that people don’t realise is: finding and accepting the reason(s) for failure instead of blaming it on god, fate or ‘things that give you a feeling of no control’. Sometimes a feeling of lack of control comes from blaming it on time, situation or other people.
You find yourself shrugging off the responsibility by saying ”it was not the right time” or ”the situation/condition was bad and I had no control over it”.
As against this what really helps is accepting that you have failed and trying to move on to a place where you can constructively analyse the root cause(s) of the failure i.e. Stage 4.
Stage 4 Reflection:
Whenever you’re ready to think clearly, start by analysing why did it happen? Typically out of the many scenarios, it could be one of these:
- Distraction or lack of focus
- Lack of or ‘complete loss of’ confidence in yourself
- It is also important to understand that this thing that you are trying to understand might not be for you. One cannot (and should not) judge the ability of a fish by making it climb a tree. If what you are doing is not one of your bright spots, find something that is. As I mentioned there was a period in my wife’s life where she was struggling and mostly failing to manage her engineering exams. After a setback in the final year, she realised that this was not her calling and quickly decided to move to an alternate career, something that she liked and was good at. As soon as she did that, she found herself doing well in academics. She was placed in one of the best companies for digital design, climbed the ladder fast and there has been no looking back since then. My wife is now a very successful woman professionally.
- One of the prime reasons why people fail is due to ‘Lack of effort’ or ‘Laziness’. It is very difficult to judge if you are not meant for this or this is something that you did not put enough effort in. For a third person, it is very easy to perceive your failure as lack of effort or worse, to discard your talent by emphasising the failure.
- Sometimes the failure can also be simply because you were over-confident. This usually happens along with one of the above reasons but it could contribute to the failure.
Stage 5 Respond:
Reflect on the situation by answering these questions:
– How can I use this experience in my future endeavours, by not repeating what I did?
– How do I avoid the same mistakes?
Once you have some clarity start by
– Inculcating changes that will help you avoid the errors/ mistakes you discovered while reflecting.
– Try to work on focus.
– Work on improving confidence.
– Making a habit of putting in extra effort in every small thing that you do.
Stage 6 Move on:
– It is important to understand that you learn more in failure than you learn from a success and just move on after a point. It’s easier to get to this stage with the help of a support group. Support group helps you to get out of these situations easily. Even if your support group is limited to a couple of close people.
– Do more of what makes you happy. Once you have failed, reflected and have moved on, you will feel an increase in confidence and you are basically a better person than you were before. You could potentially grab new opportunities and start afresh.
– Once you have moved past a failure like this, imagine what multiple failures could do to you, in a positive way? Basically, what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger 🙂
In summary, success is an aggregate of multiple failures so fail, pick yourself up and fail again!