Three Steps to Fail Better

Three steps to embrace failure instead of fearing it.



I have a book series that I started twenty-two years ago. Yes, 22 years ago. That is not a typo. I'd wake up in the night to nurse my oldest and often had trouble going back to sleep, so I'd write. This kids' fantasy story started as a picture book, then grew into an eight-book series over the last two decades.

On the one hand, that's a success. In fact, it's the first book that I ever finished (I'll talk more about the reasons behind that in another post). I've been trying to get the first book traditionally published for about fifteen years. I have gotten hundreds of rejections. I go back and rewrite, make it better, work more on the world-building. But all that rejection is hard.

So what do we do when we keep failing? How do we change how we feel about that word? Keep reading; I have some ideas.

Step 1: Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

The first step in staying motivated after a failure is to change our perspective. We need to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Don't dwell on a failure, but take a minute to reflect on what went wrong, and one way to do it differently, then move on. Plus, each failure brings us closer to success.

When we play a video game and fail we don't say, "I guess I'm not good enough." We don't give up after we lose a life. We play again and again. Or what about potty training? There's an important one. No kid is successful on the first try (or first 20. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about, I have 4 kids). What if kids or parents gave up after the first try? Yeah, me too. Not a pleasant image or smell to imagine. I'm glad I'm not part of that world, but for some reason, with so many things when we're not good at them from the start or fail several times, we're ready to throw in the towel.

Step 2: Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Small Wins

When we fail, we need to check out our goal. Is it too big? Did we not give ourselves enough time to accomplish it? If it's a big goal, break it down. Journal about it. There's a chance we are progressing more than we realize once we look back at it. Make sure to celebrate the small wins. This will help us get through the hard times when we feel like we aren't making any progress.

When I look back at the first version of my book, boy am I glad that it wasn't published in that state. If we keep tabs on what we've done and an eye on where we want to go, we're more likely to achieve it.

Step 3: Surround Yourself with a Supportive Network

Having a strong support system is crucial. We should surround ourselves with positive, supportive individuals who believe in us and our abilities. Seek guidance and advice from mentors or friends who have overcome similar setbacks. Share goals and the ups and downs of the journey. Their encouragement and perspective can help us stay motivated and provide valuable insights to help us navigate through failure.

A few months ago (Sept. 2023) I thought I was finally ready to find an agent for my book. Nope, I went through another round of rejections. I don't know what it's missing. I'm putting it away for a while. Maybe next round I'll knock it out of the park. I believe in The Peasant Scribe Chronicles. Maybe you'll read this one day and think, "Really? That series struggled to get started?" What do you want to do that a failure or fear of failure is holding you back from?

Remember, failure is not the end; it's just a temporary setback. By embracing failure as a learning opportunity, setting realistic goals, and surrounding ourselves with a supportive network, we can stay motivated and bounce back stronger than ever. Let's all use failure as a stepping stone towards success.