How do I move on past failure?

Some background, some drama

Let’s face it. We all make mistakes. Most of us know that failure is a reality of life, and at some level, we understand that it actually helps us grow. But still, we hate to fail. We fear it, we dread it and when it does happen, we hold onto it. We give it power over our emotions, and sometimes we allow it to dictate our actions. Why is it so hard to let go, forgive ourselves and move on? And how can we keep failure or the fear of it from derailing us?

Do’s and Don’ts

You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. The faster you take a positive step forward, the quicker you can leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts of failure behind. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to move on past failure.


  • Take stock, learn and adapt. Look at the failure analytically, suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Learn from the failure and move on.
  • Release the need for approval of others. Fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged. Remember, this is your life, not theirs.
  • Try a new point of view. Shift your perspective and belief system away from the negative and embrace more positive associations.
  • Just be with what you are feeling. Try to accept it, let it in and hurt for a while instead of trying to reject it all and to keep it away.
  • Remind yourself that failure is a temporary thing and you will eventually rise above it.
  • Remind yourself that you will not be able to do things well or perfectly 100% of the time. Focus on improvement. Find the constructive path forward.


  • Don’t make it personal. Separate the failure from your identity. Personalising failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence.
  • Don’t keep dwelling on it. Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome and disable you from moving on.
  • Don’t fall for a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy that failure is the end of the world. It’s not! Just try harder next time.
  • Don’t set perfectionist ideals because then it will feel like you are always failing in or that you are not good enough.

Famous last words

Things don’t always go swimmingly. Sometimes we fail. It is not fun. At least not when it has just happened. But it’s important to deal with a failure in healthier way than just feeling sorry for yourself or letting the failure hold you back from taking action again for months.

Sources and citations