50 Ways to Get Over Failure

Written by Mark Foo

A man I heard about once failed completely at two different businesses and had his girlfriend die before the age of thirty. He went on in the next decade to get into politics, where he was defeated not once, but twice, in both the Congressional and Senatorial races. He became depressed, moody, and his friends began to worry about him. Yet at the age of 51, that man was elected as President of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

50_ways_to_get_over_failureThis is but one of many examples of individuals who manage to go through a crushing series of defeats in life and come out on top with ongoing persistence. You can do the same, with only a few tips to keep in mind. Staying busy and helping others is a great way to start the healing process to empower yourself, with these 50 ways to overcome failure, whether it be great or small.

50 Ways to Get Over Failure


1. Get away from it all and take a vacation, if only to the next town.

A change of scene works wonders, taking you away from the scene of your alleged failure and giving you the time to recharge your batteries, so to speak.

2. Write down and update lists of your short and long-term goals alike.

I always try to have a few different lists going at the same time, be they literal or solely in my head. Staying organized and keeping your eyes on the prize is the best way to keep moving forward at a constant rate.

3. Face the truth.

If a situation is not working, have the strength to move on. It’s all too easy to make excuses for a situation that simply isn’t right.

4. Get a haircut or new style to represent the overall changes in your life.

A small makeover can make you feel like a completely new person and give a much-needed confidence boost.

5. Go through your wardrobe and throw out anything that is outdated or shabby.

Remove those old clothes that are doing you no favors. Get something that match your new hairstyle.

6. Make daily to-do lists and stick to them, even with the smallest of tasks.

7. Clean and organize your house and workspace.

It doesn’t need to be springtime to give the house a thorough going-over. You may be surprised to discover how much clutter you have in there that is unnecessary. This helps give the feeling of a fresh start, as well.

8. Always expect success in your future endeavors.

The power of positive thinking cannot be emphasized enough. As Willie Nelson once stated, “Once you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”

9. Get involved in community groups.

Getting out there and getting to know the neighbors as well as giving back to the community can help spark a new way to move on from the defeats of the past and move forward into the success of the future.

10. Start exercising regularly with an activity you enjoy.

For me, this is soccer and golf. For my girlfriend, it’s yoga. A friend of mine prefers log rolling. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it’s active, will help not only your physical but mental states.

11. Undergo a detoxification or cleansing program to give your body a rest.

A poor diet can literally be weighing you down, so giving your body a break will boost your energy and clear your head for the tasks ahead.

12. Work dancing into your weekly routine.

Music is what ties us all together and this can work wonders on your mood, as well as serving as an exercise to keep you in the present and away from the past.

13. Focus solely on the present and realize that the past is over.

See the above. Aside from music, other ways people manage to do this is try focused meditations that keep you squarely in the here and now.

14. Reestablish contact with relatives you haven’t seen in a while.

By focusing on others that you may have lost touch with, you will be reconnected to your roots. And maybe Grandpa has some stories about his youth that will remind you of your own situation.

15. Chat up strangers and listen to new stories for inspiration.

Be open to small talk. Sometimes you can be surprised where it leads. Everyone has his or her own interesting story, so being receptive to hearing it can be fuel for your own fire.

16. Go out and experience live music.

More than just a diversion, this can help you see life in a whole new way. It doesn’t have to be the symphony. Even a punk band can give you an outlet to burn off excess negative energy.

17. Take a career test for inspiration on how to move forward with new possibilities.

If you feel at a loss, take one of those tests that are given to high school students, to maybe learn about new skills you forgot that you had.

18. Call friends who live at a distance and catch up on old times.

With my own friends scattered across the world from Melbourne to Berlin, sometimes having a good catch-up day can give you some inspiration and help relieve stress. Modern technology such as Skype makes it easier than ever before to stay in touch. Plus, this might get you an invitation to take a vacation down the road.

19. Learn a new language or technical skill.

This helps sharpen the mind and improve concentration, plus makes you more marketable in the future when searching for new opportunities.

20. Throw a dinner party for a mixed group of friends with varied interests.

Put together a well-crafted guest list of people who don’t necessarily know each other that well but have interests that could be complimentary to each other, for stimulating conversation.

21. Drink champagne in the park with a friend.

Sometimes taking a day out and just enjoying someone’s company with a celebration just for the heck of it is necessary.

22. Always speak with honesty, so that you can stand confidently behind your words.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. This will help build your credibility and reputation that are critical in achieving success.

23. Try a new cuisine.

Life is all about experience. Give Ethiopian or Vietnamese food, and maybe you’ll be uncovering the next hot trend in world cuisine.

24. Work at least 15 minutes in every day for breathing exercise, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress.

Stress is one of the modern killers that keep us wrapped up in failure. After my business plans all fell through, I found myself forgetting to simply breathe sometimes. Taking the conscious time out of your day to simply breathe can be a huge boost to energy levels and competency.

25. Adopt a pet or volunteer at an animal rescue shelter.

Pets have been shown to also reduce stress levels.

26. Stay properly hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water per day, for an instant energy boost.

Many people forget to drink enough water. Even though it seems like a no-brainer, it really does have a huge effect on your overall wellbeing. Your body can’t operate without water.

27. Dabble in a vintage art form such as ceramics or crocheting.

For kitsch value and a new form of stress relief, take up an old-school craft form.

28. Browse in used bookstores for new intellectual ideas and join a book group to discuss them.

Browsing through books of authors you’ve never heard of can open you up to new ideas. Book of the month clubs can spark intriguing discussion and open you up to new ideas.

29. Join a language exchange program to meet new people from different backgrounds.

Share your language with someone who is new to the country, and in return learn a new language yourself, all over a cup of coffee.

30. Write down a list of 10 things you most appreciate about yourself.

It’s easy to forget after a setback how great you are. This is a way to remind yourself.

31. Make yourself upbeat music mixes to listen to when getting ready for the day.

Dance around the room too, if you feel like it. Who cares who is watching?

32. Forgive yourself for past failures by writing yourself a letter or saying it out loud if necessary.

Forgiveness is important. Remember what Oprah Winfrey once said: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

33. Take yourself on a date.

This is just a way of getting yourself out there and taking the time to appreciate what you have to offer. Buy a gift. Take yourself to a movie.

34. Volunteer within the community or abroad.

Giving back to the world at large helps you see that your personal failure is not that big of a deal in the larger scheme of things.

35. Go on a retreat.

This can be a good way to feel revitalized after a demoralized period.

36. Make sure you are being proactive every day towards achieving your goals.

Stick to those to-do lists, and don’t let yourself take days or weeks off, as that can lead to lethargy.

37. Incorporate feng shui into your interior decoration.

This can have a big impact on energy levels in the room.

38. Go to a comedy show or learn some new jokes yourself.

39. Move to a location that is near the beach.

Studies show that those living near the ocean have a higher level of satisfaction in their personal and professional lives.

40. Give yourself rewards for meeting each smaller goal on the road to your larger goals.

41. Read biographies of people that you admire.

Figure how they did it, and also be reminded that everyone goes through periods of failure. There is not one person who goes through life without it.

42. Dress in power colors and styles that make you feel good.

43. Lend a helping hand whenever possible to others.

44. Realize the best way to learn is through mistakes and setbacks.

45. Keep an upbeat attitude throughout hardships.

46. Be there as a rock for others in need.

47. Smile as often as possible.

The world will smile back at you.

48. Tackle something you have always been afraid of.

I am terrified of heights, but the day I went bungee jumping stands out as one of the best days of my life and helped remind me that I am capable of anything.

49. Laugh in the face of defeat.

50. Remember that it’s OK to feel sad, but try to turn that around.

There is a time for grieving, and a time for forgiveness. Take those defeats, learn from your mistakes, and never look back after the lesson has been absorbed.

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Mark Foo

Mark Foo has brought together 48 personal development bloggers and writers to co-author The 77 Traits of Highly Successful People eBook that spells out all of the success secrets of the very successful people. This eBook is available to you FREE and you can grab your free copy now at


  • The tips are good but is it going to work??? If Yes, then i will try but what ever i do i am not able to concentrate. I have lost everything to make one relation survive. I have spoilt my career too. As i was not able to control my mind and emotions.But i have been trying to convince myself that everybodys first Love is a failure.

    • dear friend sneha u have an wonderful life,universe have abandant of everything-“health,wealth,prosperity,love,peace,happiness,beauty”-concentrate on only positive way in all ur thinking,doing,being,feel having positive results pattern feel confidently n read 1)”the power of ur subconcious mind”-joseph murphy,and 2)”the secret-rhonda byrne”.these two books will teach u a lot about ur good and bad incidents in ur life,that all incedents are making and choicing by you-either positive or negetive-good or bad-everything u got by ur choice.this is “the universal theory of attraction”and it is very easy to turn negetive into positive if u read these two books – you think positively u got positive results-thoughts become things,u got success in all ur works.

  • […] Never give up though you are facing hard and tiring situations. Do not envy those who always get easy stuffs. Remember to always get up, because the important thing is to keep waking up after falling and not how many times that you have fallen. Keep this in mind every time you fail something. You may want to read 22 reasons not to give up and 50 ways to get over failure. […]

  • I like this list. It’s very useful for me. I have many thing to go over, I feel dispointed, after I read it, I feel better. Thanks.
    Never give UP!

  • Hi Mark,
    Very interesting ideas, needs time to digest. One bit i have taken from it immediately however, is ‘Think like a Queen”, I’m still surprised by the wide ranging sources of inspiration that exist. All helps to keep moving forwards instead of being tempted to look over the shoulder.
    Thanks for sharing,

  • I love this list. I love all 50 entries. The ones that ring true for me are doing yoga, meditation and learning a new language.

    My grandparents who were happily married all of their lives swore that the secret to their happiness was dancing. They square danced. You’ve never seen a cuter couple with hand made matching clothes. I feel privileged to have that vivid picture in my mind’s eye.

    .-= Juie Angelos´s last blog ..12 excellent blogs to click over to immediately. I mean after you read the list. =-.

  • Mark! Wonderful list. I found in my own experience that progress always overcome failure. That’s why I make it a point to accomplish and learn something everyday! It makes me feel like I am utilizing this precious gift called time to my fullest potential! I will put a post on my Facebook and share this list with my Facebook Family!!

    Ed Litors

  • Great conversation…much to learn and think about. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite quotes would add value.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

    “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and comes short again and again, becuase there is no effort without error and shortcoming, who does actually try to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who — at the worst – if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

    “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

    Aim High! — Brint Driggs (
    .-= Brint´s last blog ..God Bless Millionaires, Billionaires…And The Rest Of Us That Aspire! =-.

  • Hi Mark,

    It is great to see you again! How are you?

    The way I see failure is that it is an opportunity for mastery. I can either choose to see the lessons and wisdom in the experience or allow myself to be paralyzed by the failure. It is all a matter of perception. Failure is only failure if someone does not learn from the experience.

    Plus, no one is perfect. We are all works in progress.

  • hi mark,
    how are you?
    loved this post. it contained simple tips that are applicable & quite useful in our everyday lives.
    number 5 cracked me up… go through your wardrobe and throw out anything outdated and shabby lol!!!i have always believed failing is an opportunity to rewrite the scripts to ones success.
    Take care
    .-= ayo´s last blog ..Useful Ways To Become DAFT!!! =-.

  • Failure is a good thing.. You should be able to celebrate it. As one of my mentors puts it, you’ve gotta be able to fail fast and fail often

  • Mark,

    Great list.

    I think the most important thing to keep in mind is there is no failure, only feedback. Its an NLP presupposition that I find very useful.

    Reframing failures as opportunities to grow is a mindset that ensures you never fail.

    .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..The secret to hapiness… =-.

    • Hi Chris,

      I’ve heard that before. I think it’s Tony Robbins. I think it says something like failure is feedback that allows you to know where you’ve gone wrong so you know where you should improve on and then try again with a different strategy. Tony is a walking success encyclopedia.



  • Mark –

    Brilliant and extremely creative post here. Failure is just another step on the path of life. I love the small ideas you put forward here. I always think that we need to start from where we are, so small steps like sticking to a to-do list or taking some exercise really do start to make change. Picking any of these is a good way to start moving past failure. Well done!

    .-= Phil Bolton´s last blog ..Life’s Too Short to be Ordinary =-.

  • Hey Mark,

    Truly great list post with some fab and simple ideas in there. I don’t really think I’ve got anything to add except that I agree with Jonathan and Robin that failure is wonderful, if you choose to look at it that way. Lord knows I’ve failed, or what at least, is my own perception of failure, and if I can then somehow change that notion that it wasn’t failure at all, it was, and always will, a piece in the jigsaw of success.
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..The Best Kind Of Product Is One You Don’t Need To Sell =-.

  • Hi mark

    The list you recommended is really nice. Though, I have been running through some failures in my life i never used to give up , I used to Boost up myself by reading books, checking new blogs & also used to have a glance on nature which makes me really refresh :)

    Thank you.

  • Great list Mark – well done. I’m from the school of ‘fail fast, fail early’ – because ‘failure always comes before success – even in the dictionary.’

    Expanding on Jonathan’s point, failure is nothing more than a frame of mind that only occurs when a person DECIDES to give up. Simple solution – make a firm committment to NEVER, EVER, EVER give up. Then it becomes impossible to fail.

    “There’s only one thing that can guarantee failure, and that’s if we quit.” ~ Craig Breedlove
    .-= Ade Shokoya´s last blog ..How ‘Attractive’ are you? =-.

  • Hi Mark, what I liked about this list was a lot of it was specific and unique. For example, getting a new haircut or drinking champaign in a park with a friend. I think getting over failure doesn’t always require will-power, but little things such as taking a break can go a long way to help someone get over failure.
    .-= Hulbert´s last blog ..5 Ways to Deal with Dramatic People =-.

  • I’m not so sure I’ve labeled anything in my life a failure especially if there is a lesson learned. I’ve made plenty of mistakes but I don’t see them as failures either. How weird is that?
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Born To Run =-.

  • Mark: Interesting post and great list. Recommendation #44 really kind of hit the nail on the head for me because it is so true that we have to learn to appreciate the value in learning even when things don’t go exactly as we had planned and hoped. It gets our attention and provides us with the opportunity to intelligently respond and perhaps redirect our course of action. In retrospect, after all is said and done, we usually realize that everything we experienced had its perfect place and happened for a reason. Thanks again for sharing the great list.
    .-= alternaview – Sibyl´s last blog ..How to Not Get Caught Up in Life’s Everyday Hustle and Bustle and REALLY Live Better =-.

  • Wow, this is a really strong list. I’ve recently had to overcome a part of my life that I equate to failure. This list is wonderful and a great resource for someone trying to get beyond a life situation that they want to do away with.


  • Gosh, my best life lessons have been from moments of “Failure”.
    And, although I’ll admit I don’t like how those moments necessarily FEEL… I have come to value them as important parts of my life journey.

    :) Susan

  • Nice work Mark

    That’s a great list and a lot of that stuff is well worth trying regardless of whether you are failing, succeeding or just somewhere in the middle. I particularly like the quotes from Dr Robert Schuller. On a similar theme, here are two of my favourite quotes…

    “A man can make a mistake but he’s not a failure until he starts blaming others.”
    – Sam Rutigliano

    “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
    -George Bernard Shaw

    When confronted with “failure” (if that’s how we choose to describe it) we can always retain our dignity, personal responsibility and learn from it.


    Last post

    • Hi Curt,

      I’m glad you like the post. I’ve personally used quite a number of these ideas to pick myself up from setbacks. I’m sure it’ll come in handy again in future because I reckon I’m going to come across more setbacks as I continue to pursue my entrepreneurial dream.



  • Hey Mark –

    You wow me with your ability to come up with these lists! It’s not easy for me ’cause my brain runs in more of a stream-of-consciousness style.

    Anyway, thanks for the great post, as always. :-)

    People today have an oversimplified concept of success and failure. Their points of reference are sports, for example. One team wins, the other loses. The loser is just that. There isn’t much of a good side.

    But you pointed out that success and failure are processes, not momentary results. Practically no significant historical success story met with that success on their first try. Life just doesn’t work that way.

    You have to try, try, try, and try again, always tweaking your effort, to succeed at most anything worthwhile. Each one of those “trys” was actually a “failure”, at least in the modern sense. But in the case of these success stories, it was just part of the story of their lifetime success.

    Perhaps the problem is the way our culture tends to define success today. Perhaps we have a job to do, as you have done here, to bring this message of real success to as wide an audience as possible.

    Great work, buddy!

    All the best,


    • Hi Hugh,

      It’s always not easy to create a mega list. But I like it as a challenge. :)

      I agree that success rarely ever comes at your first attempt. Many people don’t realize that you fail only because you give up. As long as you learn from your mistakes and tweak your strategies, you’ll eventually see the fruits of your labor.



  • Hi Mark and Steve,

    Failure is a fascinating topic. Building on Jonathan’s notion of reframing, I’m actually a huge fan of failure. What I mean is this:

    Failure gives me feedback as to what is NOT working, so that I can adjust my approach and try something new and different;

    Failure keeps other out. This is especially useful in business, because the more people perceive that it’s a difficult market/project, the fewer people will actually participate. Some of the ‘toughest’ markets/situations have provided me with the most lucrative opportunities.

    Failure keeps you sharp. It heightens your awareness of what’s going on around you – especially opportunities.

    Failure begs success. The more spectacularly I fail, the more hungry I become for the solution. Failure is like a magnet for better ways.

    Failure stimulates creativity. Most of my best ideas have come from persistent, nagging failures.

    Failure energises you. It’s like a spark plug that jolts immediate and continued action.

    I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

    The BIG thing about failure becoming a huge positive force for success in your business and life in general, is NOT to personalize it, but to harness it’s power for immediate, effective and positive change.

    Best, Robin
    .-= Robin Dickinson´s last blog ..How you handle the cusp of major success =-.

    • I’m with you on this, Robin. I, too, think failure is a fascinating topic. To further build on what Jonathan has said and my earlier response, here are some very empowering definitions of failure I learned from Dr. Robert Schuller’s book “Success is Never Ending, Failure is Never Final”:

      Failure doesn’t mean you were dump to try; it means you had courage to explore and experiment to see what would work and what would not.

      Failure doesn’t mean you don’t know how to make decisions; it just means you have to make another decision.

      Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure… It does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

      Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing… It does mean you have learned something.

      Failure doesn’t mean you have been a fool… It does mean you had a lot of faith.

      Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been disgraced… It does mean you were willing to try.

      Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it… It does mean you have to do something in a different way.

      Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior… It does mean you are not perfect.

      Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your life… It does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

      Failure doesn’t mean you should give up… It does mean you must try harder.

      Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it… It does mean it will take a little longer.

      Failure doesn’t mean you’re finished… It does mean you have a chance to try something new.

      Failure is never final!



  • Nice article Mark,

    I would like to add one to the list. This one is actually in the #1 position for me personally: Reframe the way you view it when you don’t achieve your desired results.

    When we perceive our efforts as failure then healing is needed to restore our confidence. Seeing every result as valuable, whether or not it was the one we intended, helps us adjust our approach and zero in on producing our intended result.

    Learning what doesn’t work helps us figure out what does. As Thomas Edison said after 10,000 failed attempts to create a light bulb: “I didn’t fail, I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work. With the right mindset, there is no failure.
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Are You Creating What You Don’t Want? =-.

    • That’s a great add-on, Jonathan! The way we frame the outcome will determine how we respond to it. When we change the way we frame something, we essentially change the meaning and emotions associated with it. As a result, we will change the decisions we make and the actions we take. So we must learn to frame our experiences in ways that empower us.

      Once again, thank you for adding more value to the article. :)



  • Hi Mark

    Just wanted to welcome you to CYT. It’s been a long time coming :) This is a great list and I loved the mini case study of Abraham Lincoln at the beginning. Great to have you here Mark and I hope you get a great reception from the CYT crowd.

    • Hi Steve,

      Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to share something that’s close to my heart with your readers here. It’s indeed a pleasure and an honor. I certainly hope that your readers will like the article and I look forward to sharing more ideas with them.



      • Great post!

        I’m on my way up from a catastrophic, multi-million dollar failure on a very public project and it has taken every ounce of my willpower to stay focused and keep climbing my mountain!

        It’s one thing to fail financially, but when you fail publicly you are found guilty in a court of opinion that never looks at all the cards on the table. I got cleverly done in by a business partner who left me to hold the torch and disappeared.

        The only way forward is to improve your skill set, improve your character, improve your spirit and look neither left nor right from your goal.

        I think the only true cure for failure is vindication and that is my driving force – to be much greater than my enemies and critics could ever imagine! (not in a vindictive sense).

        For anyone who has experienced the kind of failure that is seen on television even three years later, anxiety and depression are constant companions, hovering over your shoulder like demons waiting to posses you… reminding you ever so after in vivid detail of how you were simply not good enough, smart enough or wise enough to get it right the first time.

        Your article is spot on, it’s the little things that keep you going – catch a movie, grow a beard, cut your hair, move to a different town, find encouraging friends etc. – Little things that keep those demons at arms length until you break through the wall in front of you and finally become good enough, smart enough and wise enough – but first you have to be tough enough and driven enough.

        Keep writing these posts, some of your readers find them more than just entertaining.

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