5 Tips for Dealing with Failure

Failure sucks. How we cope with failure doesn’t have to.

Whether you’re a blogger, a student, a creative, or another working professional, failure is a part of life that everyone deals with at some point. Unfortunately, failure (and the fear and disappointment that comes along with it), can lead to downward spirals and faltering confidence.

If you’re feeling down about your recent failures or you’re looking for tips on coping with failure, please keep reading for my top 5 tips for dealing with failure.

I’m a Failure: My 2019 Disappointments

I ended 2018 on a super high note. Not only was I feeling grateful for the experiences I had in 2018, but for the first time in a very long time, I felt hopeful and excited about my future. I was going back to school to chase my professional dreams. I set a range of personal, professional, and blogging goals that I was certain I’d crush. However, it wasn’t long before the realities of life began to set in and weigh my spirit down.

After a few weeks of working part-time and going to graduate school full time, I quickly realized that I would be unable to properly do my duties at work while I was in school. Even though I loved my job, I knew that I had to quit because my graduate program needed to be my priority. This was an unexpected life change that I did not anticipate.

By the beginning of February, my course load started to pile up and my anxiety started to skyrocket. I felt unequipped to handle the workload. Although I’ve always been a good student, I was a procrastinator throughout my undergraduate studies. Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that I could not save my graduate course work until the last minute if I wanted to do well in my program.

By mid-February, I felt alone in my program (despite being surrounded by so many students). Making friends was proving to be tough. It was at this point that I learned another hard lesson: undergraduate school is your life. Graduate school is only a portion of your life.

By the end of February, I received a failing grade on an assignment in one of my courses. This is the second failing grade that I’ve received in my entire collegiate career. I cried. Why? Well, unlike undergrad, my graduate program doesn’t offer the same tutoring resources or other methods of extra help for struggling students. Moreover, it is frustrating that this particularly difficult course is giving me the most trouble when it is likely to be the least applicable to my future career goals.

Eventually, the stress and disappointment started to creep into my personal life, seemingly affecting everything around me. I stopped putting effort into my blog and essentially took a two-week blogging break. (Note: the only reason posts were still going live in February was because I had pre-written and pre-scheduled them.) As a result, I did not reach any of my blogging goals last month.

I felt like a failure. A fraud. An imposter.

But most of all, I felt scared that I made a huge life mistake.  I took a big risk in moving home, quitting my job, and going back to school. What if it doesn’t pay off? I let this crippling fear of utter failure dictate my life and my emotions for weeks, before finally snapping out of it.

If you are tired of letting the fear of failure dictate your life, please keep reading for my 5 tips for dealing with failure.

5 Tips for Dealing with Failure

Over the years, I’ve finally come to the realization that self-doubt is a liar. Self-doubt tells us to believe all of our worst fears and that we are no good at anything. When faced with failure, self-doubt and fear are the voices that cloud out rational thought and prevent us from remembering all of our best qualities and proudest accomplishments.

Although it’s tempting to give in to fear of failure and feelings of self-doubt, there is a myriad of ways to effectively cope with failure. The following tips for dealing with failure are methods that I use when feelings of self-doubt and fear attempt to paralyze me.

  1. Clear My Head | Before I start actively dealing with failure-related emotions, it is important for me to clear my head. Common methods for clearing my head include praying for peace, taking a bath, going for a walk, or napping – tasks that don’t require a lot of effort or thought. These simple acts are soothing and help to calm my nerves if I feel too stressed to function.
  2. Write or Talk It Out | Whenever I deal with setbacks, I need to process my experiences and my emotions through journaling and heartfelt conversations. Reflecting back on my experiences helps me to release some of the potentially toxic emotions that I’m feeling. I let myself feel sad, embarrassed or scared after a moment of failure… but I don’t let myself stay in that mindset.
  3. Create A Game Plan | When I start to feel like a total failure it can be hard to snap out of that toxic mindset or to do anything productive. The feeling of utter failure can be that paralyzing. However, I’ve learned that list-making and creating a game plan are my best friends during these times. Why? I can create a list of things I need to do, how I will go about doing each task, and create a timeline for when I want to tackle each problem.
  4. Read About Other Notable Failures | There are countless famous entrepreneurs, actors, musicians, and politicians, etc. who openly speak about their past failures. Sometimes, I find comfort in reading these types of stories because they give me hope that something good will come from my failures. Plus, these help me to feel like I’m not alone.
  5. BE KIND. | What do I mean by this? Be kind to yourself. Remember, the self-doubt that comes from failure is a liar. One way I am kind to myself is to write down or say positive affirmations daily. I try to focus on the positives rather than dwelling on past negative experiences.

These tips for dealing with failure aren’t a magic solve to all your problems. However, trying one or all of these methods can help you cope with failure-driven fear or disappointment..

Why Failing is a Good Thing

Experiencing failure is a good thing. Failure challenges us to grow. Every time I’ve experienced failure, whether professionally or personally, I’ve learned something valuable about myself or about what I want in my life.

With each setback I’ve faced, I’ve developed my problem-solving skills and developed true self-confidence. True self-confidence means having the courage to take risks despite the possibility of failure. True self-confidence means having the courage to try something new when you aren’t sure of the outcome. True self-confidence means having the courage to carry on even when times are tough.

As a side note, since writing this post (nearly a month ago), I have brought up my grade in the course that was giving me trouble. Also, I am already working at another job that is less strenuous and more accommodating to my schedule.

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5 tips for dealing with failure

Did you find my 5 tips for dealing with failure helpful? Is the stress of 2019 overwhelming you? Check out this post full of wellness tips if you’re looking for ways to relax and love yourself.

Have you tried any of these tips for dealing with failure? What are your top tips for dealing with failure? What is the best advice you’ve ever received for coping with failure? Please let me know in the comments below.

23 thoughts on “5 Tips for Dealing with Failure

  1. You are not a failure. Graduate school is really hard. I had to quit my paying job in grad school (which I really needed) in order to work an unpaid internship that I needed to graduate. To make matters worse, I had to pay for the credits at my internship. Essentially, I quit my paid job in order to PAY to work. It was very stressful financially and emotionally. In the end, it all worked out, but I feel for you and wish you all the best. Grad school is hard, but it is totally worth it.

    1. Thank you for this comment, Beckie! At the time I wrote this post (back at the end of February) I was feeling really down because I felt like I just kept “taking punches” in a way. I thought about not sharing this post. In the end, I share this in case anyone else was dealing with or experiencing similar tough times, since social media can definitely gloss over those hard moments sometimes.

      Nevertheless, I need to remember that God is still providing for me in ways that I cannot fathom even when I feel downtrodden. Also, I think that the feelings of failure really can speak lies, as those feelings lead to further self-doubt and insecurity. And thank you for sharing your experience – I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in experiencing a financially and emotionally stressful time related to graduate school. (Again, I think little moments of failure can contribute to feeling like you’re all alone and no one can relate.)

      But I hope to one day be as accomplished as you!!! Very inspiring how you handle your ministry work with writing and championing others. <3

  2. I can completely relate to you! I also ended 2018 on such a high note, so I felt like a big failure when the beginning of 2019 didn’t go as planned. However, I’m trying to be kind to myself (as you mentioned in your post). I’m also in school, so it does get pretty overwhelming to blog while having homework and tests to study for. Thank you for sharing this post – I enjoyed reading such a sincere, but helpful post.

    Glad you’re in a better place now! God bless you! xo

    GABBY | http://www.gabbyabigaill.com

    1. I’m so glad that you were able to find this post helpful and that my honest emotions really showed. Wishing you all the best for the rest of this year & happy to have connected with you this year. <3

  3. This is such a fabulous post! As children, we are encouraged to succeed but never actually taught how to cope with failure. It seems to be something we pick up as adults and we’re either good or bad at it. I love your coping strategies and the way you have turned these experiences into positives. xxx


  4. LP, you write the most thoughtful, intentional, and helpful posts, no matter the topic. I know many can relate to how you’ve felt, me included. I went to grad school straight out of college and that helped me because I never got out of the school mindset until I went on internship and worked more than full time. Wow, was that ever tough to still wear my student hat. And many of us who go on to grad school are used to the high standards we set for ourselves, but like you said, we can’t always be perfect. Way to go figuring this out, pulling up your grade, and finding a more accommodating job. I’m amazed by you. ❤

    1. Aw thank you so much, Jennifer. I know I say it all the time but your constant support really does mean the world to me. <3

      Although I don't wish these feelings on anyone, I'm glad to know that I am not alone in experiencing these hard moments. I'm definitely feeling much more hopeful now (as opposed to when I originally drafted this post), but I wanted to share my experience in the off-chance that someone else would be able to relate and find this helpful. Social media can sometimes contribute to the feelings of failure that we experience, since so many of us only share the best moments in our lives and gloss over the hard times.

  5. Such a great post. It’s so easy to feel like we are failing at things when we are holding ourselves to such high standards sometimes!! It sounds like you made such a huge brave decision going back to study and you’re definitely not failing! xxx

  6. I really agree with what you said – it is ok to fail because it really sets you up for life. I think a lot of us grew up with the importance of success looming in the background. Even now, I hate failing at things but I try to step back every time something like that happens and reevaluate. I think there is so much pressure on people to succeed, and something I tell my students is that it’s ok to make mistakes because it’s those mistakes that we learn from (I know that if I used the word fail, parents will come knocking at my door!). The tips you gave are really good – I like the napping one and walking in nature. Both of those two things give me so much peace!

    1. First, thank you so much for this super thoughtful comment. Second, I am so sorry for the delayed response.

      I couldn’t agree more about the looming importance and pressure to succeed… to some degree I think having high expectations can be a good thing, but I think sometimes I still struggle with accepting moments where something doesn’t work out the way I envisioned.

      And a good nap can really boost a mood! 😀

  7. You’re not a failure my dear. This is an excellent post, we all go through moments or periods like this at one time or another. I’m proud of you for figuring it all out in the end and accomplishing your goals. Now you just take your badass self and continue doing what you’ve set out to do.❤️❤️

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment – I think it is so important to acknowledge that we all go through times like this at some point in our lives. Also, I am so sorry for the very delayed response.

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