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How to Make Your Failures Work for You

make failures work

You put in all this work.

You made huge sacrifices.

You have been waiting for the final moment.

And when it finally comes, it’s like it didn’t at all. Nothing happened the way you expected.

In fact it’s actually worse, the total opposite.

Your stomach is knots. Your body temperature is rising as your blood begins to boil.

You’re beyond pissed at this point.

How could this happen? Why did it happen? How could the end result be failure?

You don’t have any of the answers and at this point it doesn’t matter because you don’t want to think about any of it anymore.

You just pretend like it never happened. That’s the best thing to do. Or is it?

If you don’t at least review what really happened you’re going to continue to fail, over and over. The only difference is it’ll be harder and harder each time.

Believe it or not, you’re failures can actually build you up.

Failure Kept You from Succeeding

When you experience a failure you either want to move past it as quickly as possible, or you want to crumble into a ball and hide under the covers.

Whichever your preference, looking back at your failure for clues is the furthest thing from your mind.

The way you see it, you’re just that much farther from the success you’re seeking.

Failure is the thing that kicked you back several feet from it when you were literally inches away.

There’s no point in looking at it, after all it’s the reason you’re here in the first place. It’s the last thing you would think it would be is helpful to your success.

Refusing to learn from your previous failures is like tripping over the same crack in the sidewalk day after day, and still being shocked when you stumble and face-plant right on the pavement.

You had the knowledge to avoid embarrassing (and hurting) yourself, but you didn’t use it to your advantage. So you don’t get any farther than a face full of rocks will allow.

Basically, you chose to forget that it happened before and inevitably repeated it because you didn’t try to learn from your experience.

What Your Failures Teach You for Next Time

You can increase your chances of succeeding next time by picking up on the signs from previous failures.

Those failures can provide you with the clues you need to kill it the next time around.

There are little signs in every instance of failure. You just have to look for them.

When you learn to seek those helpful signs and apply them to your future attempts, at anything, you’ll be able to advance further than you ever could with a conscious case of amnesia or staring at the inside of your covers.

1. You need to rethink it

When things fall apart from the very beginning, it’s a good indication that it probably wasn’t going to be worth the time and effort you were going to put into it.

This basically saves you the time and aggravation.

Think about how pissed you’d be if you spent 10 months on something only to find out it was all for nothing. That you wasted the better part of a year to get diddly squat.

It’s annoying when you’re trying to build something and it just crumbles, but it can also be a blessing in disguise.

Take that opportunity to rethink what you’re trying to accomplish, how you’re going about it and go at it in another direction.

2. You need more planning

How many times have you become so excited about making something happen that you focused too much on the end result and not enough on the process to get there?

I’ve done it before. It’s so disappointing because you know it can happen, it just didn’t. Then you realize there was a huge hole in your “plan.”

Sometimes you want something so badly that you overlook everything between you and it.

In order to be successful in pulling it off, you have to plan accordingly and work on your approach.

Make sure that you have laid down the appropriate plans for your desired outcome. If something doesn’t work out, review it to make sure you had realistic expectations and took all possible actions to make it happen.

3. You need to break the cycle

When you fail one way, for example due to inadequate planning, you shouldn’t be making that mistake again.

Once you realize that you’ve missed vital components of planning that should be something that you do not do again.

And not just for that task, but for anything else you do. You can benefit several times over from a single failure.

Applying everything you’ve learned from previous failures to future attempts will bring you closer to succeeding.

Failure is only worth the setback if you learn from it and do not repeat the same mistakes.

4. It’s not you

When something bad happens in life it’s easy to take it personal, but it’s not.

Just because it didn’t work out this time doesn’t mean you’re a complete failure.

Failure has nothing to do with you as a person. Your ideas and you as a person are not one in the same.

If you don’t allow you failures to beat you down the experience can actually build your resilience.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and prepare for the next round.

5. You’re getting closer

Everyone looks at failure like a wrecking ball knocking you down, further and further until there is nothing left of you. But it’s actually not.

It’s more like when you’re putting together one of those desks from Ikea.

You screw a couple of pieces together, then after you move on to the next step you realize that you screwed the wrong things together.

You have to unscrew one of the pieces and correct it before you can move on to the next step, and ultimately end up with a completed desk.

Instead of demolishing what you’ve built so far, you just take apart what doesn’t work and build it back up again from there.

How do you do that? With the knowledge you just learned from your mistake.

And just like that you’re closer to the completed project, in this case the desk as pictured on the cover of the instructions.

Failures are lessons in disguise. Indications that something needs to be tweaked before you can move on further.

6. That there are more opportunities

When you are trying to accomplish something specific, your view can get so narrow that you don’t see anything else but it.

Sometimes failing at one thing can lead you down a completely different road to succeed at another thing.

Did you know that the glue used on today’s post-it notes was a failed attempt at creating a super strong adhesive for the aerospace industry? Neither did I, but I have a stack of them on my desk.

It turns out that incredibly weak, pressure sensitive adhesive didn’t work at all in the aerospace industry but it turned out to be quite the staple in offices everywhere.

See how one failure can be a bright idea for something else.

Failure Leads to Success

While you may have been taught to put your failures so far behind you that you don’t see them, you shouldn’t.

We’ve all been convinced that it’s the kiss of death when it comes to success, but that isn’t right.

Your failures have much to teach you about ultimately being successful. It even builds your resilience along the way, which you’re definitely going to need.

Acting like your failures never happened isn’t going to do you any good. Actually, it could result in you stumbling over the same obstacle repeatedly.

On the road to success there will be many failures, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not on the right track, just that you have something more to learn. 


Tell me…

Looking back at your last setback, what helpful thing could you take from it?



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About Lea

Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • Hey Lea,

    I can think of several moments in my life when I could have used this post.
    Ohhh, I have “failed” at so many things…

    The last time this happened though, I decided to listen to my instincts and see what they were telling me. It turned out I had NO interest in what I was trying to build (only wanted what the result promised). I put it on the back burner and picked up another project I really wanted to embark upon – and completed it (which was a bucket list sort of accomplishment).

    So yes, those failures have a lot to teach us. This post will come in handy for those who define their worth on something that can be their greatest teacher.

    • Lea

      Hey Dana,

      Haven’t we all. I think in life you end up failing more than you succeed. But it’s okay because it is those failures that pave the way for the ultimate success.

      Listening to your instincts can be so insightful. You end up learning so much about yourself and your desires, as you did. I too had a similar experience when I was sorting out my career path. In my case I didn’t want to do what I was studying but I wanted the underlying message. So I had to find a more enjoy way to carry it out.

      Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂


  • Hey Lea,

    Great post. I don’t think there can every be enough planning or reviewing a plan at least. I have always found as you make your way towards all goals your knowledge grows. With this additional information added to your tool kit you get to evaluate the next steps and see if they run in sync with the current plan. That’s what I use my plans for.

    I see failure as something we can learn lessons from. Not initially. When we feel we have failed and that’s what it is, a perspective (what you see as failure I may see totally different), we need to take time and absorb our mental blow. Stand still, think, hurt, get over it, recoup and then slowly make our way back. That could be a half and hour, half a day, a week. Depending on where we have stumbled from.

    Its like that saying don’t do the same thing and expect a different result. Thanks for the reminder that I am making very clear and conscious choices.


    • Lea

      Hey Rachel,

      Good point. Although not everyone is saavy enough to continue to review their processes they definitely should. You never know how what you just learned can improve things until you do.

      Yes, you surely need time to recover. As a failure can lay the ground work for upcoming success you have to take a moment to collect yourself. Even though it can be good, initially it’s not what we expected and we have to adjust to that.

      You’re so welcome, and I am glad to hear that you are! 🙂


  • Hi Lea

    I love the way that you discuss the beauty of Failure. As painful as it looks, failure has so much benefits if we do focus on the process.

    I agree that when we fail, it is an opportunity to look at what went wrong and work on the planning. It is sad that people look at failure as a destination rather than a means to awesome opportunities.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful week.

    • Lea

      Hi Ikechi,

      It really is sad when people allow it to stop them. It’s much like the other things were learn in life, you don’t get it so you try and try again. You may not know exactly how to do it but you know how not to 🙂

      Thanks for commenting. Enjoy your week as well.


  • Stella Chiu

    Hi, Lea

    Each of us has many “learning experience”. I can honestly say that nobody want to have that in life because it is so hard and frustrated to see your effort producing nothing after few months.

    Like your tips, we can use our past failures as the stepping stones for our future success. There are lessons that we can learn from our failures..

    Thanks for sharing!

    Have a nice weekend!

    – Stella Chiu

    • Lea

      Hi Stella,

      Learning experiences are everywhere, we just might not see it in that way.

      Thanks. I think it’s like falling off a bike, you don’t quit, you firgure out what happened and use that knowledge to try again more successfully.

      Thanks so much for commenting Stella! I hope you enjoyed your weekend as well.


  • Hi Lea, Oh you described so well just how I felt on my many “learning experiences”. Actually learning from mistakes is a big focus of my blog.

    But I’m such a stubborn soul I can’t think of giving up. The thought of telling all those nay-sayers keeps me powering through, and it IS getting better. What a waste of all that effort it would be to quit now.


    • Lea

      Hi Joy,

      I feel you have to learn from your failures, otherwise they’re pointless. Yes, proving people wrong can be an incredible motivator.

      Thanks Joy, have a good evening.


  • Hey Lea,

    I really could relate to #1 when you said “think how pissed you’d be if you spent 10 months on something only to find out it was all for nothing.” That happened to me early in my blogging journey when I would purchase courses and do the work.

    I was always told it could take up to six months to a year before I started seeing any kind of results so I’d hang in there only to realize I was never given all the information and I was bound to fail. SO many people quit, they throw up their hands and say I’ve had it. It can be very frustrating because you never know if the next thing you purchase to learn is going to be the same way.

    I think you have to want something bad enough to stick with it and just chalk these failures up to a very valuable learning experience.

    I agree with you also when you said to not take failure personally. It’s not you in general, it’s the experience that I think we have to go through to learn and grow. Your example about tripping on the sidewalk, if we fail to see that something is wrong then of course it always will be. We just need to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.

    Great advice on this subject my dear and I sure hope no one needs it! (((wink wink)))


    • Lea

      Hey Adrienne,

      Oh my, that must’ve been really frustrating. But on the other hand you’re quite the champ for hanging in there to see it through.

      There is always something to be learned. Like in your case, I’m sure after a couple course you were able to access what would work and what wouldn’t but probably had to purchase it first to see what you were getting into.

      I used to take failures, and a lot of things actually, personally. But when I learned to separate myself from it things became more productive. It’s hard to start again when you think you’re the problem to begin with.

      Thanks so much Adrienne!


  • Well said Lea! I look at life as many experiments and if an experiment doesn’t work it can only be considered a failure if we learned nothing from the experience. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Lea

      So true Marquita!! You only fail if you’ve learned nothing from the experience. I love your perspective on life as being many experiments. It completely goes with the idea of trying things out until something works for you.

      Thanks for sharing that!