You have saved money all your adult life to open a children’s store. You’ve planned it since you were small. It would have games and toys from around the world, the more far-flung the better. After many years of doing without, you quit your job, sink your nest egg into this venture, secure a storefront in your neighborhood. You travel to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, places you never heard of before, and you return with games you never imagined. You translate the instructions. You open the store. The stock market crashes. People protect their dwindling incomes. Almost no one comes to your store. Soon you are near bankrupt. The store closes. You donate the toys to the Salvation Army. No one buys them. They wind up in the garbage.
You spend twenty years writing an epic poem. You travel from university to university, learning everything you can. Finally, you finish it. A poetry press publishes it. This was your goal, all you dreamed of. But the reaction, to the extent that there is a reaction, is not good. Your book, it seems, is not good. The book is remaindered. You do not have another epic poem in you.
After college, you join the company of your dreams, doing what you have always wanted to do. But you are misunderstood. Your drive to achieve is perceived as the worst sort of competitiveness. Within a year, you are gone.
“This is, in a way, worse that never getting the chance,” noted one New Yorker. “If you sit in your apartment and fantasize about being the head of Microsoft, or something, well, we all fantasize. We all have things that are out of reach. But if you work towards a goal for your whole life, and you achieve it, and then you flop, you’re just terrible at it, or external events conspire to ruin it … where do you go from there?”
Even if you believe in yourself, you will still fail sometimes
While having confidence in oneself is important for achieving goals, the statement “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything; if you believe in yourself, you will never fail” is not true and can be harmful to one’s self-esteem.
The reality is that everyone faces setbacks and obstacles, no matter how confident or capable they may be. Believing that you will never fail because you have self-confidence can set unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment, self-doubt and even depression when things don’t go as planned.
Instead of putting all the emphasis on self-belief, it’s more helpful to acknowledge the challenges one may face, and to encourage individuals to develop realistic expectations, resilience and problem-solving skills. A growth mindset approach that emphasizes learning from failures, rather than avoiding them, can be more empowering and effective in the long run.
Is this the end of the world?
Failure is an inevitable part of life. No matter how carefully we plan and prepare, things can go awry, and our dreams may not materialize. While it is undoubtedly discouraging to fail at something we have been working towards, it is important to remember that it is not the end of the world. But if you have had a chance to achieve your dream, and it failed, it may seem like the end of the world. It is the end of something, certainly.
Your dream is now gone; where do you go from here?
No one can tell you to get back on the horse, to forget about it. Losing something you have worked hard for and cherished for a long time can be extremely difficult and painful. It can take time to come to terms with the loss and process your feelings.
Feel the loss. Go ahead and grieve.
One way to begin processing the loss is by allowing yourself to feel the emotions that come with it. Grief, anger, and sadness are all normal reactions to the loss of a dream. It is important to acknowledge these emotions and allow yourself to experience them fully.
Another way to process the loss is by reflecting on what the dream meant to you and why it was so important. Understanding the value and significance of the dream can help you find closure and move forward. Failure can be isolating. Reach out to friends, family or a professional for support and guidance. Sometimes just talking to someone can help you gain a new perspective on your situation.
Go ahead; dwell on what could have been. Wallow in a bit of self-pity! But you cannot do that forever. You will need to accept that your dream did not work out and move on.
Was the journey worth anything at all? Or was it just a failure?
Your dream held significant value and meaning to you. It represented your aspirations, passions and goals. The journey of pursuing your dream helped you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your values. It provided a sense of purpose and meaning in your life, for a while. It was not nothing. It was a motivating and fulfilling experience for you. Even though it ended it failure, it allowed you to express your creativity, develop new skills and achieve personal growth.
And your pursuit of your own dream may have had a positive impact on others. Maybe it inspired others to pursue their own dreams. Maybe you encouraged people who faced challenges in their own lives. Maybe, on the way to your big failure, you helped others in ways you can only imagine. But go ahead and imagine the good you might have done.
What went wrong? What can you learn?
Once you are ready, try to take a step back and assess the situation objectively. Ask yourself what went wrong, and what you could have done differently. Reflecting on your failure can help you gain insights that you can apply to future endeavors, even if it seems, now, as though nothing in your future could compare to what you have just lost.
Focus on what you’ve learned, what you’ve gained, even if it seems very small right now.
Do you have some new and valuable skills or experiences along the way that you can use in the future?
Maybe this has led to new opportunities that you had not considered before.
Maybe this is too painful. Maybe you cannot look at it objectively. If so, that is OK. Accept it.
Set new goals. Something. Anything.
Set new goals. Even if you don’t want to.
Take some time to reflect on what you may also want and create a new plan of action, something realistic and achievable, with smaller, more manageable goals that you can work towards.
In the absence of any other clear goals, look for ways to expand your skill set and knowledge. Enroll in courses or pursuing a degree in a related field, or something completely new. Stay motivated.
You still have a future, even if it is not the future you once imagined.
Be positive … eventually. You are a new you.
No one can tell you to be positive right away. But, eventually, you will need to adopt a positive attitude.
It is normal to feel down after a failure — and inevitable that you would feel down after a failure of this magnitude — but you cannot see this failure as a reflection of your entire worth as a person.
Even though this was a big part of who you once were, it was never everything about you. Do not let this failure define you.
You are a different person now. You are still someone worthwhile.
Content by Audere Magazine. Images by Pexels.