How To Deal With Failure:

One of the things I'm regularly asked about when working with clients is how to deal with failure. And it could be about a relationship that has broken down, something that didn't go to plan, a fear of failure, a goal missed or a more general feeling of failure.

Because it seems that when it comes to how to deal with failure, we have a tendency to feel bad, frustrated, anxious or self critical.

Recently I had my own failure and this is how I have learnt, and even benefitted from it for the future.

How To Deal With Failure

A few days ago I took part in a forty mile ultra marathon to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Research.

And it started so well. In fact, at the halfway stage I was only just outside the top twenty and feeling pretty good. I felt sure I was on for a good finish time and a personal best.

Yet within half an hour I was bent over, heaving into the bushes and getting dizzy. After a long, steadily slower trudge to the end of the third lap, I knew it was all over. I'd managed thirty miles but even the lure of a finishers' medal couldn't help me with the last ten miles. I was forced to withdraw from the race.

After weeks of planning and training it was all over and I was gutted. 

But life goes on and a few hours later I have a newer, more progressive and constructive outlook. So here's what I learnt about how to deal with failure:

1) Sometimes the right decision is the hardest decision

Most of us spend most of our time looking for the easiest route through life...and why not?! Yet sometimes we have to make hard decisions because they are the right ones. 

In a different context that could mean ending a relationship that isn't right, limiting a friendship that is toxic or recognising that if things aren't how you want them to be, then only you can do something about it.

For me it meant withdrawing from the race for my first ever 'did not finish' in over fifteen years of running. 

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2) You've got to keep perspective

It's easy to lose persepctive when we think we have failed and it's all gone wrong. We can get consumed in negative analysis, frustration, regret and a sense that 'I'm a failure' rather than 'this was a failure'.

Spending time playing with my eight year old daughter, who had been there supporting me throughout the race, soon had me feeling better and within thirty minutes of withdrawing I was hobbling around playing football with her. 

Twenty four hours after my race, a friend posted his father had died. Does my 'failure' have much weight now? Not really. There will be more opportunities.

3) Savour The Good Times

Without things going wrong, or not to plan, our successes and achievements would not be nearly so sweet. A couple of months ago I ran a marathon that I was very satisifed with after a long injury lay off. That one now seems even more special when I think back on crossing the finish line.

The day after my race I met up with my youngest daughter who hadn't made the trip due to illness. Seeing her bright, healthy happy face again after she had been so poorly was a really special moment that I anticipated in advance and cherished when she came running towards me.

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4) It Strengthens Motivation

Not finishing has doubled my motivation to perform well at my next race. It's easy to lose track of what you love about what you do until it disappears for a bit so now I feel very focussed for my next marathon and ultra marathon.

5) Learning and Improving

How  much of your life is spent within your comfort zone where everything runs smoothly yet never moves forward? Without sometimes sticking our neck out we can easily stop learning and growing. We can feel unchallenged and start to stagnate. Yet pushing forward into new territory (and any fear that we may have) is how we improve and achieve our potenital.

Sure we may mess up, fall on our face or fail, yet that is how we learn and grow. So as you progress I suggest reviewing any perceived failures (and successes too) and asking yourself these two questions:

i) What went well in what I did? What are three things that I did well? Recognise that most things aren't ever a complete success or failure but are rather somewhere in between.

ii) What is one thing that could have gone better? Then close your eyes and imagine doing that one thing next time you are in a similar situation. Start priming your mind to carry it out next time so you can learn and improve.

how to deal with failure 

Chances are that all of us are going to have our fair share of failures, mistakes and frustrations along the way. So the more you can do to gleen the positives, the better you will feel and the more you can learn, grow and thrive into the future.

To your success,


Hypnotherapy in Ely, Newmarket, Skype