Maybe you lost a major account, slumped in this quarter’s sales figures, or perhaps you were even fired for mishandling a situation. Failure at work happens to the best of us. The real determining factor here is how you deal with failure. Believe it or not, failure can be a real game changer, spurring you on to do bigger and better things as a result. Read on for three major ways you can motivate yourself after hitting a professional low. 

1. Deal with Your Emotion in a Productive Way

Everyone deals with stress in different ways. After a failure at work you may be experiencing depression or anxiety; these emotions are normal, but it’s important that you deal with them positively. For example, exercising, meditating, or writing, can be positive outlets for your feelings. While you may be inclined, try to stay away from destructive activities, such as drinking or smoking, as these generally end up exacerbating any negative emotions you may have. Every person will deal with their situation differently, so it’s important that you look for positive outlets that work best for you. 

2. Be Realistic About the Situation 

This is where it’s time to be honest about what really went wrong. Chances are, there may have been some things that—in hindsight—you could have done differently to better deal with the situation. But also remember to be kind to yourself; some things may have been entirely out of your control and would have happened regardless. The important thing here is that you reflect honestly on the circumstances that led to this particular failure. 

It may also help for you to talk to a third party who you can trust to give you honest feedback. Don’t just turn to a friend who will say anything to make you feel better; ask your manager for a real conversation to discuss what went wrong, or speak with a colleague who respects you enough to give you their honest opinion about what you could have done better and where you did the best you could.  

3. Learn from Your Mistakes—And Others’ 

One of the reasons why it is so important to be realistic about the particular circumstances is so you are able to learn from them; if you cloud your judgment by thinking that there was nothing that you could have done—or, conversely, if you put all of the blame on yourself—then you won’t be able to make better judgments in the future. 

Another thing you may want to do is look for cases with similar circumstances that led to a different outcome: What were the differences? Where did someone make a better decision? What were the pivot points that changed the result? With the right reflection, failure can be an incredibly beneficial tool that can prepare you for future success. 

Forgive Yourself and Move Forward 

Pretty much everyone has a moment (or two) in their professional life that they regret and wish that they had handled differently. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this regard. That being said, there are positive and negative ways that you can deal with these situations; staying positive, being honest with yourself, and learning from your mistakes is always the best course forward.


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash