Failing Forward – How to Bounce Back in 4 Steps

Recover from Failure with Class and a Smile

By: Dorothy Enriquez

Writer’s note: A version of this column appeared at and

Have you ever noticed the closer you are to your dreams or goals the more scared you become? Fear of failing is crippling for many people.

Failure was one of my biggest fears. As 2012 comes to a close, I realized I’ve come  face to face with every single type of failure I used to worry about endlessly. My mind constructed the worst case scenario. With every failure I faced, it was never as bad as my imagination had depicted it. I realized there were two things paramount in every failure, mistake and downward spiral: my faith and tenacity. I don’t just fail and roll over. I go kicking and screaming. What does that mean? It means I fail forward. If I keep getting back up after every fall, I feel like I haven’t really failed. I’ve made a mistake. And to err is human.

My dad says throughout the course of life everything that happens, good or bad, has consequences. My job is to learn from every scenario. If it’s good, keep repeating whatever I did to make that event occur. If it’s adverse, try my best to avoid it like scurvy and the bubonic plague. Dads are great aren’t they!

Here’s the process I go through when I fail forward:

1. Acknowledge what happened. Don’t sit there and act brand new. A mistake was made or something happened that was out of our control. No matter whose fault it was, it happened and we need to admit it in order move forward.

2. Put it into perspective. When bad things happen, we get pissed, hurt, sad or devastated. [Insert whatever emotion here.] We can cry ourselves a river for a night…maybe two or three depending on how large the failure was…but then it’s time to put it into perspective. advises treating the experience as a learning opportunity: Identify what we learned and how we can grow from the situation.

3. Make a plan. No matter the failure, create a detailed outline on paper of what ‘bouncing back’ looks like. Lost a job? Update that resume! Then write down what the dream job will look like. This process helps us to focus as we move forward.

4. Gratitude and grace. We need to pat ourselves on the back and extend ourselves a little grace. We can be our worst critic. Mantra to self: I lived through it…I’m not dead. Every waking day is another chance to get back on the wagon and try again. Purchase a small notebook and every single day write down at least 10 things to be thankful for. According to gratitude fosters happiness, making it easier to cope with stress and trauma. Failure is traumatic if you ask me. Can I get an amen!?

Failure is also a part of life. We can’t expect to get through life without making any mistakes. I can boldly say I’d rather fail with God on my side than fail without God. To all of my DOT-Nistas who have fallen off their little red wagon: Girls, we’re too cute to do the ugly cry. Let’s dust ourselves off, have a glass of wine, phone a friend and then get back to it. We’ve got a whole world waiting for us to succeed. Take note girls: Failure ALWAYS comes before the success.

Did you fail forward in 2012? If so, how did you bounce back and what did you learn from the experience? Leave a comment below!


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