Bouncing Back from Failure

Sometimes, bad things happen. A promotion is given to someone else. A pink slip is found in our locker. A business doesn’t work out and needs to close. A hoped-for inheritance turns out to be a mirage. A relationship ends before you want it to.

Everyone experiences failure in life. No one has a perfect life, no matter how it might seem from the outside.

More than anything else, a financially successful person is one who can bounce back from that failure in a positive fashion. Successful people realize that failures happen and move on from them.

For me, rebounding successfully from a failure – big or small – relies on five specific steps.

First, don’t waste a second raging at or blaming others. Whenever something goes wrong, it’s easy to have a tendency to look for other people in your life who caused these things to go wrong and then to use those people as your emotional punching bag.

“That person always had my number at work.” “That woman I was with was just a bad person.” “You call yourself a friend?” “That junk car of mine…” You get the idea.

The problem with this kind of response is that, by targeting and blaming someone besides yourself for everything that went wrong, you’re internally absolving yourself of having done anything wrong. If you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s no reason to change the path you’re on, thus setting yourself up to repeat the same failures in the future.

Don’t waste even an instant finding someone to blame.

Second, channel any emotional angst you have into some form of self-improvement. If you’re feeling emotionally distraught because of the bad event – angry, upset, depressed – find some positive way to channel that emotion.

Go to the gym and beat on a punching bag. Go for a long run and push yourself while running. Play ultimate Frisbee.

For me, I find a great way of relieving angst is to write. I’m always working on a novel and I’ll often hammer out several thousand words when I’m emotionally upset with something. It’s a channel that works for me.

Third, look for what mistakes you made, but don’t dwell on them. Instead of looking for others to blame for your problems, ask yourself what you could have done differently to alleviate the problem or notice it in advance or prepare yourself for it.

What could you have done to make the situation better in that moment? What could you have done beforehand to see the situation coming? What could you have done beforehand to reduce the impact of the situation?

You’re going to come up with a list of mis-steps that you made along the way. I usually try to find three or four significant mis-steps in any difficult situation that occurs in my life.

Fourth, for every mistake you made, come up with a specific way to correct it. You have that list of three or four specific mistakes you’ve made, so just translate that list into things you can take action on in your life to prevent this big problem from happening again.

Some of the solutions you come up with might be short-term solutions, things you can enact in a day or a week. Other solutions will require changing your life in some fashion or altering your long-term efforts.

The key thing is to make sure that each action you come up with directly addresses a problem that you observed.

You have a checklist of things to do. Now do them. Go out there and take care of that little checklist of changes. Incorporate the more long-term solutions into your life.

There’s no better way to rebound from a crisis than to realize that your life has been changed in such a way that you won’t see similar mistakes repeated again.

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