How to Motivate Yourself in Times of Failure

I don’t like failure, and I can assume that you don’t either.

Not only is failure painful and humiliating, it usually means that the return on our time, effort, and money is zero.

Unfortunately, as much as we hate failure, it is guaranteed. In fact, the only way that you can avoid failure is if you do not push yourself in any way.

So what happens next? How can you prevail in times of failure?

Well, the easiest answer is to learn from your mistakes. Each failure is a lesson for greatness, and an opportunity to inch closer to success. When you fail it falls upon you to get back up. This is not easy, and sometimes you will need a helping hand.

That is why I have come up with 20 ways to remain motivated after failure, so that you can get back up as soon as possible. So if you are struggling with hopelessness and feel like you are barely treading water, this post is perfect for you.

Brian Tracy quote

20 Ways to Remain Motivated After you Fail

1. Take time to heal emotionally
Failure is often heartbreaking, and you won’t get over it in a day.

So if you have just lost out on a big idea, failed on your product launch, been fired by a big client, or filed for bankruptcy, know that you won’t feel bright and cheery for a while.

But until you get to the point that you are fully healed, I urge you to smile. Life is not easy and it cannot be controlled, but be happy with your small victories as you try and get up from a huge failure.

2. Remind yourself that there is no success without failure
If you want to succeed at anything, you need to remind yourself that you will fail several times before getting to that point.

Keep this at the forefront of your mind each time you hit an obstacle or fail completely. And if you feel too afraid to experience the inevitable failures that accompany success, remember that the alternative is a lifetime of ‘what-if’s.’

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley

3. Learn from your mistakes
The best thing that you can do each time you fail is to learn from your mistakes. If you screwed up don’t let that be your excuse to give up. Let your screw up be your motivation to try once again, and this time without making the same mistake.

Every time your mistake leads to failure, you have the unique opportunity to view your strategies and methods, and tweak them until you get your intended outcome.

So if your mistake was having too few trained employees, next time ensure that you have a larger number of trained employees. Some of the best lessons you will learn as an entrepreneur will come from your failure, rather than your success.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

4. Create a positive mindset
Few people understand the power of the mind. When you fail you need to make a conscious decision to be positive rather than miserable.

If you do choose to be miserable, it will be much harder to get back up from your failure. However, if you cultivate a positive mindset, then you can move on from each failure without losing your enthusiasm and drive.

Remember, a positive mindset will lead to positive results, while a negative mindset will lead to negative results.


5. Do not dwell on your mistakes, accept them
When you fail, your natural instinct will be to beat yourself up. However, dwelling on your failures and blaming yourself for your mistakes is a drain on your energy.

Instead you need to accept that mistakes will occur, and failure will happen. Once you accept this, then you can focus on shaping your success.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

6. Find the opportunity to grow
Each failure and setback presents a chance for you to grow. Your job is to find the opportunity in your failure, and turn it into a positive.

Just imagine if Thomas Edison decided to quit on the light bulb the first time he failed. Thankfully, he didn’t quit, and after 999 times of failing and growing from his failures, his invention now graces all of our homes.

Re-evaluate everything once you fail, and look for new doors that you can kick down.

“Keep on going and chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.”-Charles F. Kettering

7. Choose to be happy
Happiness is definitely a choice; unfortunately many of us choose to be sad. When you fail your natural emotion will be sadness, however, don’t let your failures define your emotions.

Similarly, don’t let your happiness be dependent on your success. Choose to be happy even during the worst times, and you will feel in control of your failures.

Be happy

8. Use your mistakes to master your art
Once you are comfortable making and accepting mistakes, then you will have the ability to learn the skills that are vital to master your art.

Each time Thomas Edison failed with this light bulb, he learned more about the art of creating the light bulb. With his growing skills and knowledge, he was finally able to master the art of creating artificial light.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

9. Continue pressing forward
When you mess up, don’t get stuck in a pit of failure. What you need to do is dust yourself off and press forward. By pressing forward regardless of the obstacles, you have the chance to make progress. You can’t change what has happened, but you can try again, this time better than the last.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” -Dale Carnegie

10. Think about what to do next
Once you have failed at something, you need to figure out your next action. Being proactive is a great trait to have, and it is much better than wallowing in sorrow and doing nothing to change your situation. By making decisions about your actions post-failure, you can start heading towards success instead of getting stuck in failure.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

11. Remember that you are not the only one who failed
When you fail, it often feels like the world is conspiring against you. The moment that you realize that failure is not limited to you; you can motivate yourself to get up faster.

Failure is normal, and every successful person can tell you a bunch of times that they were in the same position. If they could succeed after failure, then you can too.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”-Michael Jordan

12. Write down a list of your successes
One feeling that closely accompanies failure is that of worthlessness. To combat this feeling, you need to write down a list of all the times that you succeeded. You can place this list on your mirror or at the front of your journal, where you can read it every day.

Now every time you have a crisis of confidence, go back to that list and see that you are capable of success.

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.” -Tom Hopkins

13. Think back on your past failures
In the same way that you write down your successes, you should write down your past failures. Once you look at this list of failures you will realize something- you failed several times before, and got back up. What is different this time?

“Do not ignore your failures, acknowledge them and use them to motivate you.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” -Joseph Kennedy


14. Get inspired by your mentors
We all have mentors, whether they are athletes, inventors, academics, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, actors, politicians (joking), humanitarians, or authors.

These people have been in the same position as us, and they can serve as a great inspiration during the tough times. So when you are in the midst of failure; read about them, listen to them, and watch them. Find out what they did to overcome their hardships, and apply that to your situation.

“If I’ve learned one lesson from all that’s happened to me, it’s that there’s no such thing as the biggest mistake of your existence. There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.” -Sophie Kinsella

15. Focus on your other goals
When we fail at a big task, then we can improve our confidence by succeeding at small tasks. So focus your attention on smaller more achievable goals, and succeed at each one of them. This is simple and motivating, and all the small steps that you are taking will eventually lead you back to your large undertaking.

Remember, a win is a win, no matter how small it seems.

16. Visualize your success
Sometimes when we fail, we need to close our eyes and imagine what our success will look like. By visualizing your success, it becomes tangible rather than something out of your reach. Additionally, when you reinforce your positive mindset, you give yourself the motivation that you need to continue on your journey to success.

Visualize your success

17. Remember that staying a failure is a choice
Failure is inevitable, and whether or not you remain in a position of failure depends on you. You need to make a choice to persevere through failure; or you will find yourself in a state of stagnancy.

I read somewhere that failure is not falling down, but choosing to stay down once you have the choice to get back up.

“You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.” -Robert Jordan

18. Surround yourself with positive people
If you surround yourself with toxic people, then their negative mindsets will eventually be passed on to you. You need to surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you to get back up once you have been knocked down by failure.

Their positivity and optimism will give you the motivation and confidence that you need to succeed.

19. Take a step back
I know that I said that you need to press forward once you have failed, however, taking a step back before you move forward again can be very helpful.

By taking a step back you can get a clearer picture of where you messed up, giving you the chance to re-evaluate your decisions. Once you have situated yourself, you can start moving forward with strong purpose.

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres

20. Get yourself organized
Lastly, you need to get yourself organized after you have failed. By creating a plan for your future based on what you have learned from your mistakes, you can take back control of your situation. This also puts you in a better position to succeed, as you know where you are heading and how to get there.
plan ahead

Final Verdict

Failure is rough, tough, and painful; however it goes hand in hand with success. The way you handle your failure will determine if you succeed, and the tips above should help you cope with failure when it comes your way.

Remember to learn from each of your failures, instead of dwelling on any mistakes that have lead up to it.

If you have a friend, family member, or colleague in need of some motivation, be sure to share this post with them. Also drop me a comment and tell me how you have managed to cope with some of your failures.

And if you want post updates sent straight to your inbox, sign up for the Business Broken Down newsletter.

I hope you have a positive week, and I’ll see you back here next Monday.

67 thoughts on “How to Motivate Yourself in Times of Failure

  1. Great post Davina,
    You have awesomely started my week on a brighter side. We often forget that failure is part of success and continuous improvement. This post is clear and straight to the point on how we can deal with failure once it occurs.


      1. Hello ma’am… ur article is really helpful… but I always try to hv a positive mindset den also I face failures how can I overcome it?? Sometimes situation becomes so horrible…I really don’t know from where to start… for eg today I had an exam in school n it was terrible though I really worked hard but still I didn’t succeed so I searched on Google ” how to motivate urself” as I was extremely depressed den I found ur article..

        but after reading this I m filled with new thoughts n energy… thnku…:)


      2. I’m happy to hear the article boosted your spirits. I wish you the very best going forward, Mallika 🙂


      3. Completely changed the perspective of Failure,yes failure plays a key role on Success to perform better 🙏🙏


      4. DN,

        A really excellent article with very simplistic and practical steps in an effort to move people forward to a better place after a significant failure. My case is an abrupt job loss after 30 years of a successful career.

        From a personal standpoint in trying to “move forward” and to avoid wallowing in worry, I am currently having difficulties with balancing various “theories” after this life-altering set-back. For example, I try to surround myself with “positive” people (#14 & #18 above) but some of them provide me conflicting messages.

        One set of optimistic folks tell me “do whatever it is you want………relax…… earned that right after 30 years of ardent service…no need to work from a financial a step back (#19 above) and simply enjoy your life” at this later stage (58 YO). Conversely, others tell me “Get off your ass, challenge yourself, get some courage, stop wasting your life away, apply your talents, volunteer, serve others, be selfless, stop waiting for the next ideal position, and get back on the horse now”!

        While I totally understand deciphering between the two recommendations maybe based on applying them chronologically (e.g. take a step back first / then get on the horse second) (1) practicing balance and moderation is always key (2) and the choice is a personal one primary based on whatever works for me (3), I’m still curious as to hear your perspective on the diametrically opposite points of view I’m receiving from my circle of friends/family.

        Thanks again for the great article and in advance for your response.


      5. Hi Joshua,

        I definitely see the confusion you are facing with all the differing advice. We all give advice based on our fears and experiences. So someone who had a really rough time of it when they faced a job loss would push you to start working again, while someone who has not experienced this will tell you to relax for a while.

        At the end of the day, your decision will impact you the most, so it makes sense to take a minute to evaluate what you want to do next, especially if you are not constrained by finances. Write down everything you want to do/achieve and how you can get started (however small the activity is, from visiting a new country & learning a new instrument to working in a new industry). In this case, don’t rush based on the expectations of those around you. Let me know how it goes 🙂

        All the best,


  2. Great article Davina. I try to stay positive and not see things as a failure, but as a learning experience in life. True failure only comes from not learning the lessons from the experiences you have where you don’t find success first time.


  3. Davina, I really enjoyed this post. I thought that the quotes you provided were very appropriate for the post. It is funny that we both posted about motivation. You really touched on some points that will help people.


  4. Good Day to You Davina,

    First, let me wish you luck with your Budding Entrepreneurship!

    Having tried and failed more than I’d like to admit, let me add one more item to your list:

    If you bite of “more than you can chew”, spit it out, cut it up, and take smaller bites.

    Now, don’t stress. Be patient with yourself. Take your time.

    Don’t just “throw it away”.

    Learn, Help, Grow, and especially “Help” as you do the other two.

    We all need a little help, much as I hate to admit it sometimes myself, I’m glad you included that.

    Now I’m retired, going at my own pace and not worrying when or even if I make a profit.

    I don’t say that because I can’t use the money.

    It’s because the money always comes last, and then, how we make it stands a better chance to last.

    If we can feel good about how we are earning it, we’ve done well indeed.

    Thank you for this encouraging post!

    My Best to You


    1. Good day to you too Arth 🙂

      That’s a great point; failure often makes us afraid of going after a particular idea if it hasn’t worked well the first time. It’s therefore crucial to take a step back and look at it from a different point.

      I’m also glad to hear that you found a pace that works well for you. Most of us are stuck in a rat race, and the only outcome is more stress.

      Thanks for stopping by, and giving me your best wishes.

      Have a great week Arth 🙂


  5. After failure in the exams …i get upset aftersome ,I get motivated for some time but after some I just forget everything and just keep on reapting doing same mistakes …what should I do Davina?
    And in next exam I get another failure!??


    1. Hi Tania,

      I’m sorry to hear that. You’ve pointed out that you keep on repeating the same mistakes, and I believe you need to learn from them instead. Write down the mistakes you keep on making e.g. getting distracted instead of reading, and then figure out solutions to these mistakes.

      You can find a study partner to help you get focused and you can get some tutoring to help you understand concepts better. If past papers are available to you, use them to get an understanding of the questions that you will find in your exams, and how you are expected to answer them.

      I wish you the best.


  6. Thanks Davina! I was feeling a bit depressed after getting my results but I’m feeling better now. I really hope I can succeed in the next attempt.


    1. You will Alyssa. You’ve already taken the first step in trying again; it’s easier not to. Wishing you the best 🙂


  7. Hi Davina,
    Thanks for your advice. Now I feel better and i will always keep in my mind the advice that u have given to us. I hope in future if i have any problem i can share with you.Thank you so much and have a nice day.☺


  8. I really needed this post and will come back to it in the future. I am very hard on myself with even the smallest of misteps, so when a big one, or worse, a public one, rears it ugly face I feel like I’m spiraling. Thank you for sharing this post and I am excited to pass it on!


  9. These ideas are critical for helping students. The idea that you are a failure if you don’t do well on a test permeates society.

    The first time I took the G.R.E. I had pneumonia and coughed throughout the entire test.

    The room was all wood and echoed with each cough. I was so embarrassed. I don’t remember the results, I threw them away.


    1. It’s definitely a harmful idea. We all fail, we should be allowed to try again; as many times as needed. Thanks for reading 🙂


  10. This article really helped me a great deal! I’ve been trying to accomplish a goal since 2005. Time after Time I come close but I fail. I have attempted this exam I know about 10 times. I tried again this past Saturday didn’t pass. I’ve poured my time money tutor and can’t figure out where the block is. Even the ones I have motivated has pass. I’m hurt angry and frustrated. But I will not give up!


  11. Hello, this post has really gotten me back to my fit because I was on the verge of commiting suicide when I performed awfully in an interview. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of your post and will really appreciate if I can gain the access of chatting with you via whattapp. Thanks so much.


    1. Hi Emmanuel, I’m glad to hear you’ve gotten back motivation to try again. Please talk to someone about what led you towards thinking of suicide..My email is in the contacts section, you can get a hold of me through that.


      1. Hi Davina, I’m having big trouble with my exams this year. They’re quite important to me as this is my final year and things are getting pretty tough now. I’m aiming for straight A’s and it’s been really hard for me to stay consistent with my grades. I never felt satisfied with myself and tend to have a severe breakdown every time my grades drop. Hope you could lend me some tips and advice. Thanks


      2. Hey Tia. You need to find out why you reach expectations sometimes and don’t on other occasions. It could be your study techniques, working environment etc..When you figure this out, you can work on filling the gap. Keep your head high and your focus unwavering. All the best with your exams.


  12. Thank you for those advices,Davina.Sometimes,I fell like why this failure always comes to me.But,when I read the article,I felt more confidence to continue my school life.As you know,student always say that the they decrease in their exam marks like me.I am so motivated when I read your article.Thank you so much,Davina


  13. hello davina appreciate u replying to late comments hope u will on mine too but all my life I was the 1ST but for this quarter I didn’t make it and I am disappointed of course it is quarterly and isn’t the final grade I am getting but I know that people will start talking about it and since I am quite vulnerable at this moment I might be badly effected by it how should I avoid getting affected by it?


    1. Hi Mikee..Life is a roller coaster, sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down. Please remember that failure is not permanent. You need to ignore negative comments and surround yourself with positive people who can support you. Also, begin planning for the next quarter; figure out what you can improve this time around 🙂


  14. Davina you are the best.
    For me this time is the time of sadness. In my school I was a high scorer student. But in this first semester someone score better than me. It really hurt me because I was always a winner. There is a big national university entrance exam coming after almost 4 months in my country. I know I have a chance to score high but I lack my past motivation to study. What should I do?


    1. Hi Himi, I empathise with your situation. My advise is to re-read the post. Check out #1, #3, #4 and #5. Once you’ve fully accepted what has happened, read #10. Create a plan with your next steps (it’s hard to be motivated when your next steps seem overwhelming). With a plan you can break down your goals into actions that are simple enough to accomplish. Wishing you all the best with your upcoming exams


  15. Hii Davina Ngei , firstly I would like to tell U my Life Story . Now I am studying in M.A. (Eng) in India .
    I would like to do something big in my life but I don’t know What should I do to fulfill my this Aim .
    My life is full of so much problems Firstly ,My result is declared on 19 March 2019 and I failed in two exams and I felt that My whole body is doesn’t work and I am lying on bed for few hours but I try to change my failure in my Success but I can’t do that because I watching Television serials ,Movies funny videos too much and I think that’s all the things are my life So please suggest me ..What Should I do to change my failure in my Success?After read this article I realize that U are the Only one who help me in this problem ….Please gave me some solution Devina Ngei…Tnx K.K.Jhajj.


    1. Hi K.K.Jhaji. Firstly, we all fail sometimes, so you are not alone and you are not defined by your failure. You seem to have lost your confidence and that’s why you’re spending time watching a lot of TV. I would encourage you to try something small. Maybe challenge yourself to read one chapter a day of a book that has to do with the course you are studying. Then try bigger challenges to build up your confidence. Work your way up to achieving your goals (passing your exams, graduating etc). All the best; I hope this helps…


  16. Hello Davina
    Thanks for the post. It has really motivated me. I just got my result today and I was so sad and depressed. But after reading your post I got excited and overwhelmed.


  17. l have failed and l will fail again till l attain success and l will not give a room for failure again


  18. Tysm for this post mam. The girl u Sita nxt to me in skl fells jealous about me, she always wish my failure. I worked hard not to fail but the exam I faced today was very tuff. Now as the grl wished me to fail, I failed. 😑. But ua article helped me to get motivated. Once again tysm mam🙏💖


  19. Great article, I have read many over the last few months after losing my marriage, home, buisness and all my money due to depression from a stressful company I owned and no work life balance. I am now trying to heal from these losses but this will take time to find the confidence to move forward again and hopefully come back stronger. Many thanks Paul


  20. I enjoyed this post also it helped me alot. From my own experience I also realized years ago that one of the biggest failures is not trying at all. Because if you dont try youve already failed. Years ago I had many opportunities in front of me but i messed basically every single one of them up because i didnt believe that i would succeed. So I had chances to try and didnt vecause i thought i would fail. And to this day ten years later im still dealing with all the agonizing hurt and pain from it as if it just happened. I cant seem to move past it. Like something wont let me. Every time i think im finally over it it eventually rears its ugly torturous face once again to let me know its not over and im not through it one bit and possibly never will be. I had achance to be in a relationship with a girl ten yrs ago in 2007, and it failed because of me. Because i left it up to chance on whether itd work out or not instead of putting in the needed effort that could’ve avoided all the pain guilt regret and anguish im now going through from not trying hard enough. Ive never felt so much pain in my life and I need a way to get through this once and for all. Many mornings i cant even get outta bed because i wake up feeling depressed lost and hopeless. Like a failure who ruined her life and now cant be happy. I convinced myself back then that i was supposed to be with her so now that im not i feel that i cant be happy. Im so sick and tired of being punished over and over a million times over for a simple mistake i made long ago. Im confused and dont understand why i cant just let it go. I feel that i cant accept it because it didnt work out the way i had wanted it to. I dont know how to accept that knowing i had the control to stop it from happening. I prayed last night and asked God, if there is a God who cares for and loves me that he will take this pain away because i cant do it and cant deal with it anymore. I need help desperately. Im dying to get over all of this and move on with my life but it feels like the pain from my mistakes wont let me move on. Its holding me hostage and keeping me stuck in this rut that feels like pure hell at times. I wish i could put all the blame on someone else then i probably could get over it. Because i cant control what others do only what i do. Thats why when i do something wrong its hardest to deal with because i had the power to change the outcome. Will someone please help me get through this somehow? Maybe God is trying to help me and answer my prayer by bringing me to this post. Please I need help. How do I let go of my past mistakes and stop feeling like i failed at my life, so I can finally just move on and have a successful happy life?


    1. Hi Emily, I’m really sorry to hear about the hardship you’ve been through. I think that if you’re unable to overcome this by yourself, it is okay to ask for help (which you’re doing). I would ask you to look at the professional help available in your area (e.g. a therapist), as they can give you the best support regarding dealing with your past and moving forward. I wish you the very best 🙂


  21. I’m 17 years old I started a project when I was 15 and the people that invested in my project gained total control over my idea and hard work even though they were like my family and they raised me like their child. I was very angry because the project we built is getting millions right now and I’m sitting home doing nothing. That really destroyed my mental strength but this blog really showed me how I could get out of this zone. I really love how perfectly it’s written. Thank you


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