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It’s important to know how to be confident again after you’ve failed. Because failing is a normal part of living and succeeding in life. Not only is the road to success paved with failure, but it’s how you learn best.

And you can choose to react in one of two ways: (1) get stuck feeling sorry for yourself (which leads to a loss in self-confidence and self-esteem), or (2) find the lessons to be learned and use that to fuel you forward (boosting your self-confidence levels and making it more likely that you’ll ultimately succeed).

Today, we’re covering 5 powerful strategies for how to be confident again after you’ve failed by turning any failure into fuel for success.

The Secret Ingredient For How to Get Your Confidence Back

There’s a secret ingredient that highly successful people have that others don’t. And it’s not that they’re smarter, work harder or feel more confident than others. Yes, they’re smart and work hard. But that’s not exactly a secret (and there are plenty of smart, hard-working people who don’t achieve high levels of success).

And although they do feel confident, that’s not the secret ingredient either (it’s a result of the secret ingredient).

The secret ingredient is their mindset – they have a growth-oriented mentality that embraces failing forward.



What It Means To Fail-Forward

Most people aren’t prepared to deal with failure in a way that helps them succeed. They fear it, and hence try to avoid failing at all costs. That means that they’re highly risk averse.

The problem is that you must be willing to take some risk to succeed in life. And that includes potentially failing.

Those who achieve great things perceive and respond to failure differently. Instead of trying to avoid failing, they:

  • Accept that failure is inevitable,
  • Perceive problems as challenges to be solved (not avoided), and
  • Actively identify and leverage what can be learned through failure.

This is called failing forward (and is part of a healthy growth mindset). To learn more about what a growth mindset is and why it matters, read Why Mindset Is Everything: The Key to Success and Happiness.

Why Fail-Forward?

You might believe that you prefer a life that’s risk-averse and simpler than one of failure… but are you so sure? That’s how to leave your dreams behind and live with big regrets. And it’s pointless.

The thing is, failure happens (even if you try to avoid it). It’s part of life and living. Moreover, it’s how you learn best. When you’re willing to fail, you’re more likely to act and do more, faster.

Besides, trying to avoid failure is only going to feed your fears. That’s how they end up controlling you.

But if you accept that failure is part of life and the BEST way to succeed in life, you’ll actually be diminishing some of those fears. Because you’ll no longer be allowing them to control you.

A fail-forward mentality empowers you to act despite any fears that you have.

Regaining Confidence By Failing Forward

Failure has an effect on you. But it need not be negative. It all depends on the mentality you have around failing.

A fail-forward attitude creates fuel for overcoming your fears. It orients your mind around what can be learned, enabling you to act more decisively and quickly. And it creates a mindset that’s focused on problem-solving (and ready to accept new challenges).

Failing forward is what will help you with getting unstuck after a failure occurs. Instead of going into a downward negative spiral feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll focus on what can be learned and how to use it to your benefit so that you can get into action.

This builds your self-confidence and self-esteem naturally.


Being a confident leader


5 Simple Strategies For How to Be Confident Again After You’ve Failed

You now understand how to rebuild your confidence with a fail-forward, growth-oriented mindset. But what should you do to properly cultivate that mindset?

Here are 5 strategies for how to be confident again after you’ve failed (by building a strong, fail-forward mentality):


Woman working with intention at her desk


Strategy #1: Focus on What Can Be Learned

Self-confidence obviously takes a hit when you don’t know something or lack necessary skills. The easiest fix is to beef up your knowledge and/or skills – especially in areas where you’re weak.

This might seem overly simplistic (and it is simple) but that doesn’t make it easy to do. Human beings have a tendency to focus on the things they’re already good at – not on what they’re weak at. So it’s important to prioritize those areas where you need help.

And then go even further by proactively learning from your experiences – especially your failures. How? Ask questions designed to get to the heart of why you failed, what could be done differently, and how you can incorporate what you’re learning into future actions.

Questions like:

  • What could you have done differently?
  • What have you learned that will make you better prepared in the future?
  • How will you incorporate what you’ve learned into future actions?


Picture of content, happy woman


Strategy #2: Forgive Yourself

Research shows that forgiving yourself is a key component for success.

If you think about it, this makes sense. To learn from a failure, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about what happened and why. But if you’re unable to forgive yourself for your part in it, then you won’t be fully honest with yourself and won’t learn much from the experience.

Forgiving yourself is really about letting go so that you can move on and not obsess over your mistakes. The last thing you want to do is to over-analyze what went wrong. That tends to lead to incorrect conclusions and a loss of confidence.

When it comes to forgiving yourself, here are a few important tips:

  • Identify what happened and your part in it. Be honest (you can’t forgive yourself if you’re not willing to honestly assess your mistake).
  • Put words to the feelings you’re having. What emotions are coming up and why?
  • Don’t repeat yourself or get stuck in your story.
  • Take responsibility. If you need to admit your mistake to someone and/or apologize for it, then do it.
  • Identify what can be learned from the experience (these strategies build upon one another – so use them to your benefit!).
  • Surround yourself with people that you trust who will support you, such as mentors, close friends, and family members (even a coach).


Drawing of positive and negative mindset


Strategy #3: Talk To & Personify Your Inner Critic

Everyone has an inner critic (even those perceived as successful). Your inner critic is the voice inside your head that says things like:

“I’ve really messed this up again. I can’t do anything right.”

“I didn’t perform well on that project, so shouldn’t take on another one like that.”

“I’m not as smart as everyone else and have just been lucky. One day, everyone will figure that out and expose me as a fraud.”

This negative self-talk loves to show up after a setback or failure.

Your brain is pre-wired to think negatively. It’s a survival instinct. That’s what’s going on when your inner critic goes into overdrive. The good news is that you can manage – even prevent – negative self-talk.

Here’s the thing: your inner critic isn’t WHO you are. But you likely think of him/her that way. It’s time to stop that by personifying it.

Give your inner critic a name and talk to it as if it’s a person who’s trying to warn you about all the things that could potentially go wrong (but likely won’t). By thinking of your inner critic as a person who’s there to warn you (and just doesn’t know how NOT to be negative or be quiet), you’ll make it easier to listen objectively, stop it from being repetitive and move on.


Someone pushing a square block and someone pushing a round one


Strategy #4: Provide Context

Context is about reminding yourself that you aren’t the sum of your failures (or even your successes). Because you’re not defined by your outcome, but by your behavior.

When providing context, proactively remind yourself that:

  • You’re not truly failing so long as you’ve learned something.
  • You aren’t the sum of your achievements, but instead the sum of your behavior.

Although you experienced failure, you’re okay (the world didn’t end and, although you might feel a bit battered, you’re fine). This helps create resilience.

A key component to this strategy is understanding your values and how to align your life around them. They are your inner compass for living a fulfilling life. And they are the easiest way to feel at peace with yourself and your decisions (and remain confident in yourself and your abilities despite a failure).

For more about how to align your life around your values, read my article about How To Redefine Yourself Into Happiness.


Small man on pavement


Strategy #5: Reflect On Past Failures That Led to Success

It’s important to consistently remind yourself that you’ve failed in the past and have thrived thereafter (often because of that failure). Regularly reflect on past failures and identify what was learned that eventually led to success.

This doesn’t have to be limited to you, so be sure to also identify when other people have had failures that eventually fueled them to succeed (and if you’re not sure exactly how, then ask trusted mentors, friends and colleagues for their input).

There’s evidence of failures that fueled big successes everywhere. It’s up to you to find them.

Not only will this help you rebuild your self confidence, but it will strengthen your resilience and enable you to take future risks that are necessary to long-term success.

Recap of How to Be Confident Again After Failure

If you want to regain your confidence after enduring a setback or failure, then it’s important to cultivate the right mindset. And you do that by employing the following simple strategies:

  • Focus on what can be learned from mistakes and failures.
  • Forgive yourself so that you can let go.
  • Personify and talk with your inner critic (to tame it).
  • Provide proper context.
  • Reflect on past failures that led to success.

Do this to regain your confidence after mistakes and so-called failures, and ultimately create a fail-forward mentality that is resilient and growth-oriented.

Recommended Additional Resources

Take this even further with the following articles and tools:

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Hey there, I’m Heather

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I’m here to help purpose-driven lawyers and other professionals (like you) build your ideal career to support the life you actually want. Because you shouldn’t have to choose between professional success & personal happiness.

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