So you failed, now what?

So you failed, now what?

Failure is an inevitable, though certainly not the most pleasant, part of life. I ought to know, I have failed quite a lot. Business failures, relationship failures, work failures. Nothing too spectacular, just the usual motley collection of naivety, poor decisions and a few random twists of fate.

When you fail, there is no magic bullet to getting over it, but here are a few things that helped me in the past.

  1. It's not over til it's over.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." ~ Thomas Edison

First of all, have you really failed, or just run out of energy? We are constantly bombarded with the myth of overnight success, in particular on Instagram and other social media (sidenote: this is one reason why Instagram seems to be bad for mental health). The 12 year old Chinese kid that can play violin better than you can. The 22 year old crypto multi-bazilionaire. It's easy to feel that we ought to either succeed with a bang, or we are a failure. In fact, these are the extremely rare outliers. Most success happens after a long period of unglamorous hard work.

Reminder: It's Not Too Late

2. Luck and timing are key factors

Alright so you have decided that yes, you really have failed. It could be that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Survivorship bias is a huge factor in every industry. I have a wicked smart friend that spent several years trying to start a livestream fitness company. It never really took off in a big way. A couple of years later along came Peleton and Apple fitness +, two massive successes in the same market. It's easy to see our failures as due to some personal failure in our character, work ethic or otherwise, but there are thousands of other factors beyond our control. Sometimes it's just not the right time.

3. Gratitude will help.

Ok, ok. So you definitely failed and it wasn't due to bad timing or some other thing you can blame outside of yourself. Nope, this is on you. Failure isn't fun, but remember all the other things in your life that are going well. Even if your business failed, you may still have a loving family, your health and the privilege to live in a peaceful society in one of the most affluent parts of the world.  Life's pretty good. Thinking about these good things, and considering all the bad things that haven't happened to you, can change your perspective completely.

Another way you can feel gratitude is to consider everything you learned along the way. Perhaps your business failed, but you gained valuable experience in developing websites, working with people and communicating your ideas. Redefine your failure to view it as a success on different terms.

4. Does it really matter anyway?

Do the things that you want to do whether they are 'successful' or not, because in 100 years we will all be gone anyway. Do the thing that you can't stop thinking about. Do the thing that makes you happy. Go outside and feel the sun on your face. Forget about how many users or followers or fans you have. Make art. Finally, listen to this song and face the day with a smile.