1. Define success on your own terms.
Failure is a subjective term. If you have very rigid ideas of what it means to succeed, you will often feel disappointed. If there’s one thing that’s certain in life it’s that nothing is certain, so why pin your sense of self worth to something that may or may not happen?
2. Find the value in failure.
If you’re looking for a job and you don’t ace an interview, you could either decide you failed at that interview, or you succeeded in learning something to help you in the next—which might be an even better opportunity than the one that just past. As the Dalai Lama said, “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
I could give you all types of statistics for entrepreneurs and companies that eventually succeeded after abundant failures, but I’m not only talking about monetary success. I’m talking about personal success—bouncing back from a disappointment and continuing to move forward on the path that makes you happy.
I believe the greatest achievement in life is the choice to be empowered, not paralyzed, by a disappointment. There is no greater success than the ability to take responsibility for your joy.
3. Act on what you’ve learned.
Anything can be useful if we learn from it and then do something with that knowledge. The second part is where a lot of us get tripped up—and understandably so. On the one hand, we know that consistency is crucial to creating positive change. On the other, we know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Unfortunately, there is no magical formula for creating the lives we visualize. No one can tell us what to keep doing and what to do differently. We have to gauge for ourselves what’s working and where we could improve; and then we have to keep going, knowing full well there are no guarantees.
4. Focus on the process, not the results.
Just because you didn’t reach a specific goal you set, that doesn’t mean you can’t still do what you’d like to do. It’s not over just because you didn’t create one specific outcome. If you keep doing what you love, you will inevitably identify new possibilities that will fulfill you.
Another benefit of adopting a process-oriented approach is that it’s easier to be mindful when you focus on the action steps. This doesn’t mean you stop setting goals and measuring your progress toward them. It just means let each step fuel your sense of meaning, joy, and accomplishment.
5. Accept that it isn’t always personal.
As much as we’d like to believe hard works always pays off, sometimes there are things beyond our control that have nothing to do with what we did or didn’t do. This may be the reason a lot of people try and try again only to achieve the same results. Some things are just harder to do than others.
If you go to seven interviews for sportscaster jobs, but every time, you’re up against industry veterans, your failures may have a lot to do with who you were competing against.
We can always find room for improvement, but sometimes we need to accept that results aren’t always reciprocal to efforts. However, we increase our odds of creating results if we choose to move forward regardless.
6. Create your own luck.
If we stay positive and keep our eyes open, we will inevitably see opportunities in life. It’s the difference between walking with your head held high and noticing a rainbow, and walking with your gaze on your feet and seeing only puddles.
7. Get SMART.
It’s entirely possible that you failed because you set yourself up for failure. SMART goals work—they’re specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
If you’d like to start a business, but you have a full-time job and a three-month old baby, this might not be the best time. It’s more realistic to believe you can succeed once you make adjustments in your schedule than when you’re overwhelmed by family and work responsibilities.
8. Find opportunities in adversity.
I forget where I recently read this story, but a young boy was looking to get a job. Everywhere he went, he heard they weren’t hiring, so he decided to set a new goal: for each company he visited, he would either get a job or sell them a “Not hiring” sign which he would make.
Hope the last story made your day, keep your chin up and punch disappointment in the face!