5 Steps to Recover from Failure

It’s part of human nature to fear failure. Whether it’s in school, work, or relationships, failure can rear its ugly head and affect our day-to-day. As working adults, we strive to work hard, reap returns, and excel in our given field. However, mistakes are common, and sometimes we experience failure of some kind. But it’s all a learning curve. Some will wallow in pity and find it hard to bounce back, while others will use that failure as fuel to improve.

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

Henry Ford

Fortunately, there are ways to help you get back on track after experiencing failure. This is what we call “AARRS”: Acknowledge, Accept, Reflect, Recommit, Start Over.


Man on the phone next to a productivity sign


Acknowledging and coming to terms with the failure is the first step, but it can be challenging. Still, it is much easier than running from your problems or refusing to assess what went wrong. Instead, stepping up to the plate and acknowledging your failure will help you to come to a resolution. From there, you can begin to map out how to overcome this failure, although there is an entire process before you can reach this point.


Acceptance is the action of consenting to receive or undertake something. Accepting your failure can aggravate you at first, but will feel liberating in the long run. It also shows integrity and responsibility on your part. By accepting failure, it shows that you understand what you have done, and it releases the weight off your shoulders. Just because you failed at something, it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. You need to understand that, as humans, we will all make mistakes. 


To reflect it is to “think carefully about something”. Reflecting helps the brain to pause amidst the chaos and sort through your experiences, then consider possible mistakes you may have created. When reflecting, make sure to look over your failure and see where it all went wrong. Look at what you did and how you can improve next time.


Recommitting is where you put yourself back out there. Create a list of things that can help boost your motivation. Everyone will need some type of support and help when recommitting themselves to anything. Whether it’s retaking a major test, showing a presentation, going back to work, etc. Everyone will need support.

Start Over

This is where it all starts again. You have acknowledged your failure, accepted it, reflected on what you did and how you can improve it, and recommitted yourself. You are excited to get back into the field, but you must first form a plan in order to get back into the swing of things. It will take baby steps, and you might experience some bumps along the way, but it will all be worth it in the end!

“Failure is a part of the process. You just learn to pick yourself back up.”

Michelle Obama

Read more: How to be More Productive at Work

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