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How To Bounce Back From a Failure At Work

Written by Mark Lynch
Featured Life-Balance, & Personal Development Author
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Let’s be honest and get this out of the way right from the beginning: failing sucks but failure at work can be even worse because it’s in front of people you typically see almost every day. Yet, it is inevitable for all of us to experience failure at work. And as more problems arise that greatly affect our lifestyle, many of us have been facing failure more than expected.

We’re continually making more and more mistakes—way more than any of us I’m sure would like to admit. These situations are worsened even further when the people we work with call attention to our failures at work. It can be very challenging to cope with these mistakes and failures, but doing so is an important part of growth. So, I’m going to give you ways on how you can bounce back from a failure at work.

1. Failure at Work Isn’t Uncommon

The first thing to understand is that failure at work is by no means uncommon. Just like you, everyone else is making mistakes as well. Our work lives are simply moving too quickly, the requests are piling up one on top of another, and it seems like we’re never able to catch up—let alone get ahead. These mistakes, errors, and failures at work are made inevitable by these circumstances.

The pressure is enough to make anyone crack, so don’t waste your time feeling ashamed when you make a mistake in your workplace. Learning to accept failure at work as an inevitable part of the process positions you well to begin overcoming the negative feelings and aftermath of these situations.

If you’re struggling with personal mistakes or failures, just remember that mistakes or failures can serve as lessons for us to learn and become better.

2. Overcome Negativity Associated With Failure at Work

If you’ve ever failed at work, you know that your ego can take a bit of a shot in these situations. That’s a universal truth. But as I just mentioned, learning how you can manage these breakdowns and the negativity associated with failure at work can help you bounce back quickly and get you back up on that horse so you can crush it next time!


This process will help you manage the disappointment and potential embarrassment associated with a failure at work and ensure that these negative emotions don’t drag you down for too long. And to do that—to learn to manage the disappointment and negativity that you typically feel following a failure at work—you need to explore what happened.

What that means is that you need to reflect on the situation that occurred. Identify the things that went well as well as the things that didn’t. Why did the things that went well went well? Why did the things that went poorly went poorly?

Answering these types of questions will provide you with important insights as well as an added degree of self-awareness. This will equip you with lessons that you can take forward to improve and become better the next time you take on a similar task.

3. Prepare for the Negativity

In addition to examining the situation, there are a few common emotions associated with failures at work. A few of them I’ve already mentioned previously in this article. Learning to be on the lookout for these types of thoughts and emotions following making a mistake or error at work—or in any other part of your life—will help you better cope with them whenever they do attempt to take a shot at your mental health.

These could be many things such as embarrassment, disappointment, identity conflict, feeling worthless and useless, feeling like you have no value to add, feeling like everyone around you is better than you are, etc. There’s probably an endless list we could come up with here because as humans, we—for some reason—love to beat ourselves up, especially given all our past mistakes and failures.

However, if you let this happen, these thoughts and emotions will run riot in your brain and do damage to your mental health. So, just as if you were preparing to go to battle with someone else, you’re going to develop your strategy to combat these emotions before they even present themselves.


Doing this will position yourself well to overcome these emotions. Don’t underestimate the importance of simply being prepared. I have one of the most valuable steps that I’ve personally taken that helps me to remain resilient following a failure at work.

If you give it a try and establish a plan or strategy that makes sense for you and relevant to your life and line of work, you’ll gain a highly valuable set of skills.

4. Reflect, Admit, Apply, and Repeat

Once you’ve made your new strategy, it’s time to begin trying to reflect on your current coping behaviors—you know, the ones where after you make a mistake you go and cry about it, get defensive, and then go eat a bunch of ice cream afterward in an attempt to console yourself. Yeah, you can’t keep using that strategy obviously—it’s not effective.

So, take some time to reflect on how you currently cope. Why do you act that way? Is it your attempt to try and cover up the internal insecurity that you have? Or is there some other reason?

Finding out your motivation style may help in this case. Take this free asssment: What’s Your Motivation Style? and learn about your motivatoin style and what works best for you when it comes to staying motivated. Take the assessment for free here.

Once you’ve figured out the reason, admit it to yourself and accept that this is how you’ve been acting in the past and that a change needs to occur.


From here, you can begin retraining yourself and shifting away from being defensive and eating ice cream to gaining self-awareness and growing from the mistake you make in life. This is a fundamental step to learning how to bounce back from failure at work. This is because once you’ve done this and gained that self-awareness, you can then begin applying the new strategies that you’ve just created for yourself and establish new patterns of behavior and habits that are much more beneficial to your personal growth and progress.

Then, the final step is to repeat the process. I would recommend that whenever you fail at work or make some mistake in another area of your life, you go through some form of this process of reflection and evaluation. Repeating this process will help you modify and adjust your strategies, and it can help you grow and evolve as a person.

5. Take Responsibility

We all know these people—the ones who, in their mind, are never at fault for anything, regardless of what role they played or how much they were involved in the outcome. These people are “finger-pointers”. They will blame everyone else before ever even stopping to consider how involved they were in the outcome.

I feel sorry for these people. Not only are they typically not very well admired by their peers for this behavior, but they also will end up progressing at a much slower rate than the rest of us who are willing to admit our mistakes and take responsibility for them.

Try your best to avoid becoming a “finger-pointer” whenever you make a mistake, especially when it’s a failure at work because nobody wants to work with someone who can’t take responsibility or be accountable for their own actions and decisions.

I get it, it’s not always easy to accept the blame and admit mistakes, especially when there are consequences for your actions. But that degree of accountability is very important to your personal growth and development.


Bouncing Back from Failure at Work

If there is one main message that I’d want you to take away from reading this article today, it would be that you can learn a lot about yourself from your failure at work and the mistakes you make in life. But to do that, you need to learn how to address and overcome the negativity associated with these mistakes and establish more effective ways of coping.

Learn to view these mistakes as opportunities for your personal growth and development. If you can do that, you’ll go far become successful in your personal journey!

More Tips on How to Deal With Failure at Work

Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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