How to Move On After a Failure

October 21, 2020 Jessica Kaley

It's important to learn to move on after failure because we aren't going to succeed at everything, and failure can damage our self-esteem. Yet building self-esteem can require us to stretch beyond our limits, even though, sometimes, our efforts may not bring us the results we hope for. When our self-esteem is poor, it's hard to keep ourselves motivated and positive. How do we continue to move forward after failing?

This month I have been participating in an online challenge to follow health and nutrition guidelines that I strongly believe in and have been slowly adopting over the last couple of years. The challenge lasts for 21 days, and I have been unable to meet the guidelines 100 percent for even one day. It was important to me to do well, and I am in danger of falling into depression because of my failure.

The challenge required all my meals to be whole food plant-based, which means no processed foods or animal products. Everything is cooked from scratch using only plants. I'm not comfortable in the kitchen, and my health often leaves me short of energy, so it was, indeed, a challenge for me. I've spent the last few days working on my attitude to keep this disappointment from totally derailing me. Here's a three-step plan for doing the same when facing failure in your efforts to build strong self-esteem.

3 Steps to Face Failure and Move On

When things don't work out the way you plan, try following these three steps to keep your self-esteem strong in the face of failure:

  1. Look for the positives from the experience. Even when you don't reach the finish line, every step you take towards your goal stretches your capabilities and makes your skills stronger and more practiced. I learned a couple of new recipes that I enjoyed and added to my repertoire. Cooking is not my strong suit, so this is a gain for me.
  2. Think about how you can improve next time. Every experience, regardless of the outcome, is a chance to learn. When we see our failure to finish as an opportunity to gain some knowledge, we turn a loss into a win. I learned that I need to keep more meals I cook in the freezer for the days when my health prevents me from home cooking three meals a day. From now on, I will attempt to freeze more of everything I cook.
  3. Congratulate yourself for trying. Show yourself some love by celebrating your willingness to put your ego on the line and stretch. Trying new things makes life interesting, and you deserve kudos for challenging your capabilities and trying to grow.

Self-Esteem Grows When You Make a Change

Building self-esteem requires making some changes. First, change your self-talk. Instead of saying that you can't do something, tell yourself that you can try something. Change your expectations to suit your current capability, plus a little growth. Instead of demanding perfection of yourself, aim for progress. Finally, change the way you react to your outcome by observing rather than judging.

I wish I were able to succeed at the full 21 days of my challenge. I still believe that it's the way I want to eat to manage my health. I may try it again soon to see if I can improve my results a bit. I can keep trying, which builds my self-esteem, and stronger self-esteem allows me to keep trying.

Tell us about a failure or disappointment that you had to get past. What helped you? What challenged you? How did your self-esteem feel after you moved past the failure?

APA Reference
Kaley, J. (2020, October 21). How to Move On After a Failure, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Jessica Kaley

Find Jessica on LinkedIn.

Christina Childs
August, 28 2021 at 7:33 pm

Hi Jessica,
I am a high school math teacher currently in grad school. One of the assignments is asking us to find a blog about something of personal interest and importance to us. Self love, self confidence, self-esteem, and positivity are all things that are very important to me. As a teacher, I come across so many students that struggle with failure and what I mentioned above. I love the three steps you discussed about moving past failure. As a math teacher, I always hear students get so down on themselves when they do not earn a grade they want. I consistently try to remind them that mistakes prove they are trying and to learn from those mistakes moving forward. I also always tell them to try their best. I really like how you say, "Congratulate yourself for trying." I think so many of us forget to do this, and I like this as a motto in a classroom.
Thank you for your insight! Great blog post.

Leave a reply