How to Deal with Failure

Failure: We all experience it. People who never seem to fail are just better at hiding it (or turning it into a win). We live in a society that doesn’t value failure, that views it as something to hide away rather than something to learn from. Our current views on failure are toxic and can actually stunt our learning and personal growth. In order to grow, we need to address our failures head on and learn from them. This is especially important for students who are always dogged by the grade at the end of the tunnel. Don’t let one bad grade determine your whole class. Take charge and make change now.


Steps to deal with Failure:

  • 1 Let yourself feel the negative feelings. It’s okay to feel crummy at first- sometimes identifying why you feel crummy helps you identify your life goals and priorities better.

  • 2 Practice self compassion. Beating yourself up won’t get you anywhere. Sure you made mistakes, but you have to trust that that’s okay and that you can do better next time.

  • 3 Pull yourself together and address the problem. Don’t sweep it under the rug. We all have the understandable tendency to push the past into the past and never look again at the things that gave us those crummy feelings. But if we want to grow and learn we have to meet these challenges and feelings head on.

  • 4 Learn from it. Ask yourself: What went wrong? Did you not study enough? Did you try a study method that didn’t work? Did you work alone or in groups? Were you spread too thin? Or maybe distracted? Talk to a teacher. Talk to a tutor.

  • 5 What can you change? After your self evaluation you should have a good idea of why your last grade didn’t turn out so hot, and you should know what you can change. Maybe it’s your study space, or more solo study time, or maybe you should get a study partner, or maybe flashcards just don’t work for you even though your friend swears by them and you should make outlines instead. Experiment!

  • 6 Put that plan in action. Now that you’ve faced the failure and analyzed it, it’s time to put it behind you. Dwelling on the past won’t fix the future. Fix what was broken and then make plans to avoid the same mistakes in the future. And after the next test, even if you do better, go through these steps all over again, so you can keep growing and improving.

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