Art to Inspire: The 5 Steps to Moving on from Failure

Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend, and one thing that came up was this idea of failure. The word itself seems pretty harsh. Right? It’s always been a negative thing.

“No one wants to fail. It just doesn’t sound like fun.”

Well, that’s true. I wouldn’t put failure into the “fun” category. But you know what?

Sometimes failure is necessary.

You might fail at one thing in order to succeed with another. Or perhaps there is a lesson to be learned? Or a new leaf to be overturned? There is always something that you can “get” from a lack of success. You just have to figure out what it is.

Failure is not for nothing. It is for something.

So, the next time you make a mistake or feel that F word creeping up behind you, use these five simple steps to move on from failure…

We Need Quiet Time by Alli Coate

1. Examine. You need to take control of this situation. Take some time to examine what’s really going on. Whether its just a moment or a few hours.

Beautiful Place by Slide Sideways + Free your Mind by The Wheatfield

2. Get lost. If you don’t allow yourself to get lost, how will you ever find your way back? Find a place where you can get lost in your thoughts. It should be a place you feel safe, comfortable, and even inspired.

3. Talk it out. Think away. Let your mind be free. And ask the tough questions… Why do I feel like I failed? What was it that I didn’t accomplish? What led me to this place? Did I give it my all? What is the next step?

Let it Go by Nan Lawson + Dream Big by Simply Hue

4. Let it go. Now, let it all go. Accept the past and choose to move forward to your future, even if you feel like some things were left unresolved. Choose to leave your past mistakes and failures behind. Bring what you’ve learned with you, and leave the rest.

5. Climb the next mountain. But, most importantly of all… Once that negativity has been drained, never forget to dream big once again. There are other mountains to climb and fish to fry. You will succeed, but you have to keep trying.

What thoughts do you have to share regarding failure?

Share your experiences in the comments below.

15 thoughts on “Art to Inspire: The 5 Steps to Moving on from Failure

  1. Awesome post, Brittni! You know so many people let fear of failure hold them back from even trying to succeed in the first place.

    A few years ago, when I was teetering on the edge of quitting my day job to focus full time on my art, I was terrified that I’d end up failing. I’d make up my mind to quit my job and then I’d chicken out when it became time to turn in my notice.

    My husband, who is ever calm, cool, and collected, finally talked some sense into me by asking “What’s the worst that can happen?” It was such a simple questions, but it really put things in perspective for me because I realized that the worst would be not succeeding with my art biz and having to go back to a regular job. But once I framed all of my nagging fears of failure within that question, “what’s the worst that can happen?” everything seemed suddenly less daunting and suddenly more doable.

    Now of course, I’m so happy that he was able to talk me into leaving my day job for good because it’s been 3 awesome, successful years since I left that job. Even now though when I’m feeling the fear of failure creep in, I just ask myself “what’s the worst that can happen” and it helps me put things back in perspective :)

  2. Well said, Brittni . Your 5th point strikes a chord with me. Isn’t it important to keep setting newer and bigger goals ? This is just what I need to re- affirm my faith in myself.

    My dad always says – Don’t look at the problem the whole time- look away and look for the solution & you’ll find it.

  3. Failure… I am sitting in Stephanie’s chair, where she sat three years ago before giving her notice. I chicken out. Every time I think of it I chicken out, yet I am longing to quit.
    Because now I am just starting exploring what it is that makes my heart sing, and I feel the calling, but my mind is still full of “what if’s”.
    Now, what if I quit and worked my a** off to do what I really want to do? Well, I would have the time and space to properly develop my business. It would be tough for a while, but And what I would do as a 4-limbed healer (yoga teacher / coach / artist / writer) would make much more sense to the world. I would truly be of
    service, one way or another.
    Deep down this is who I am, not the person sitting now at her desk
    thinking about failure.

    Oh, I should really hand in that notice now, shouldn’t I?

    1. Of course, you should! If you’re thinking about it, it’s probably because you’re not happy right now. Think about what would make you feel great and do it!

      Good luck!

  4. You’re right, failure is for something. We grow from failure and we learn, a lot. It’s part of life… we can’t be perfect, we can’t succeed in everything. But still, no ones like failure, no ones looking to fail.

  5. I think your point #4, about letting it go, needs an addendum – “be kind to oneself”. Since I started my own business, I have regular bouts of panic regarding possible failure. My number one slogan at those times is “be kind to myself”, let things go, let it all wash over me. I know that I always come out of these periods of panic and start moving on to the next mountain. These things have a way of happening in their own time. Yes, we need to take the decisions in hand, but yes, we also need to recognize that these things are not easy and to give ourselves a break!

  6. I think you’re right, failure is necessary and can be beautiful. I know for me, some of my biggest failures have brought me to become the person I am today. If I hadn’t failed so many times, I never would have grown! It reminds me of this quote by C.S. Lewis:

    “Experience: that most brutal of all teachers. But you learn. My God, do you learn.”

  7. as a child fear of failure shaded almost every decision and action in my life. in my family it was understood that if you planned with care, worked with diligence and were talented and smart, you would succeed. however, this meant that if you failed you had messed up in some obvious way: lack of planning, careless work, b-grade talent or mediocre thinking. it also meant that i grew up afraid to experiment and explore. i wish someone had said “sometimes failure is necessary”. as an artist i embrace all the mess that comes with discovery and creativity; the mess and uncertainty are vital parts of the process. but it took years and some solid counseling to allow myself to try anything that didn’t come with near-guaranteed success. messing up can still sting as i bump along, trying new techniques or experimenting with different media, but i try to be kind to myself. some failures lead to exciting successes while others become material for great stories. once i recover and move on.

  8. A favorite quote that hangs above my work area by Joseph Pearce, “To love a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

    We will all fail–this is inevitable. In fact I believe when you push to fail you succeed far beyond expectation because you find new direction that would have otherwise been lost.

  9. Bring creative and being successful is a system of trying, failing, trying, and failing until you get it right. All of the people I admire tried, failed, and didn’t give up until they “made it”. Failing inspires me now, and I always look back on the failures so I can improve with the next try.

    My favorite “failure” story is my time and the Riverside Arts Market. I didn’t make a profit, I likely broke even all things considered (like time!) but I connected with the artists in my community, made friends, and learned about my favorite art events as a direct extension of being a part of it. I took note: (http://bit.ly/jgBpHy) and now I know what to do for my future art line.

    Excellent post!

  10. I just started my blog this year because I failed big time with my dissertation thesis. My teacher just told me that he wouldn’t support my topic anymore (even though he chose it!) and that I should go and think how to use my knowledge in the future. It was just unfair as I’d been writing already (after 2 years of research!!). I’m still not happy with the outcome and am trying to let go. At the moment I’m following some legal steps at the university just to get at least something for the 2 years spent here.
    What it was good for? The failure showed me that even if I give it my best, as far as other persons are involved it can always turn out in a way I didn’t plan. Now I have to rethink my future plans and need to figure out what I really want in my life.
    For example: I always only allowed myself to write academic stuff and longed sometimes for “easier” creative writing. (Which isn’t easier at all, though.) Now, I joined a creative writing group and am having fun writing a short story. Maybe even some time soon a novel??? Who knows. I’ll see.

  11. I to have a fear of failure and I’m finding it difficult to shake it still. For me I was diagnosed with a medical disorder called hydrocephalus which makes it harder to concentrate my mathematical sequencing is permanently damaged and my dad who apparently got A grades in every subject treats me like a fool when I get a low mark in maths and science. I also have a love for genetics which is a double dilemma because it requires complex maths to do the topic. I am really good at english, history and biology but I feel that I’m never good enough because I’m treated with comments like “you f@$#%d It up all the time so I quit because I figure maybe they are right. I realise no that thinking was wrong but now it’s my self loathing that’s holding me back but every failure small or large is amplified ten fold because of the pressure which makes it so easy for me to quit but I hate myself further for doing so.

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