Failure in life is inevitable. At one point or another we will all set out to achieve something, whether vocational, relational, or otherwise, that we will ultimately not attain. We are not perfect. Therefore, not all of our endeavors will end successfully. However, it is not the failure that will define you, it is how you handle that failure and move forward.
Of course, overcoming failure, learning from it, and becoming better because of it is easier said than done. The feeling of failure can be demoralizing and, to some degree, paralyzing. It’s almost as if the plans we made and dreams we had were taken away and we are forced to imagine a new reality we had never considered before. This can be refreshing or crushing depending on the context and, really, who you are as a person. It’s difficult to let go of old realities and welcome the possibility of new ones. To be honest, I find it quite daunting. I feel like this is part of the learning processes that will ultimately enable us to understand that, while some situations seem impossible, life is not over.
The question begs to be asked, how exactly does one overcome failure and move forward? Honestly, I don’t know that there is a step-by-step plan as every situation and person is different. However, in general, I find the following to be helpful.
- Be honest with yourself. Sometimes failure comes when we are trying to do something we simply aren’t cut out for and aren’t meant to do or have. Think honestly about what it is you want out of life, what you enjoy, and how you can translate that into your new reality. It’s possible you failed simply because there is something better waiting for you.
- Stop dwelling. It’s easy to get caught up in what ultimately led to what you consider to be a failure. However, it doesn’t help reconcile what happened or overcome it. It happened. Mourn it shortly if you must and forgive yourself if you need to. Then look forward, forget about whatever your failure may have been, and create a new, better reality for yourself.
- Reach out. Often times we feel as though we are in situations alone, but we don’t have to be. Seek out people who will assist you in finding your way back to where you want to be. If nothing else, find people to encourage you in the times you need it the most. This will allow you to regain some confidence in who you are and who you will eventually become.
- Don’t be scared to fail all over again. This may be the hardest part. Once you really believed you have failed it’s hard to put yourself in a position that may have the same result. It’s impossible to avoid though. The only way to truly overcome failure and move forward from it is to take a step that may eventually lead you to the exact place you’ve grown to hate. But the step is necessary as it could lead you to what you maybe didn’t know you’ve always wanted.
Don’t let failures, or even missteps, define the person you are. Accept them, learn from them, and allow them to contribute, in a positive way, to the person you are becoming. One day you’ll be glad you did, maybe even thankful for the failure and process you had to overcome.