What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure

What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure

Photo: Jesse Parkinson

Do you ever feel like you’re trying your hardest at something, but all your efforts still aren’t good enough? Are you struggling to reach your goals or feel like you’re drowning in an endless sea of to-do lists? I know I feel like that a lot… and it can be incredibly overwhelming! Especially if your mental health is already shaky, it can be so easy to feel like you’re one misstep away from absolutely ruining everything. Here are eight things you can do when you feel like a failure, so you can fight off those negative feelings and get back to being productive.

What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure

#1 – Re-Evaluate Your Goals

Are your goals so incredibly simple that you keep procrastinating them? Or are they so unattainable that you feel like you’ll never reach them? Try tweaking your goals so they provide the appropriate amount of challenge for what you personally need.

Also, make sure your goals are specific enough for you to reach them! For example… instead of saying, “I want to save some money” you should say, “I want to save $200 this month.”

If you’re too scared to set specific goals because you feel like you won’t reach them, try breaking your goals up into small steps. Using the example above, instead of saying “I want to save $200 this month” you could say, “I want to save $50 every week for four weeks.” You have the same result, but $50 seems less intimidating than $200, but you still end up saving the same amount.

#2 – Take a Step Back

Don’t let yourself become trapped in your own mind. If your mind starts to race with thoughts that don’t make sense, breathe and take a step back. It can be difficult to slow down your thoughts, especially if you struggle with anxiety. It takes some practice, and that’s okay.

For me personally, whenever I start to have racing thoughts telling me I’m not good enough, I literally stop what I’m doing, breathe, and focus my energy on slowing those thoughts down so I can counter them. Otherwise, they’ll consume me.

Also, make sure you aren’t trying to do too much. You can do anything… but not everything! We only have a limited number of hours in a day, and sometimes we like to set unattainable tasks and goals for ourselves.

What to do when you feel like a failure? Adjust your focus!

#3 – Adjust Your Focus

Change how you’re looking at whatever problem you’re trying to solve. There might be more than one way to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to do! Also, make sure you’re not trying to box yourself in or take a direction that isn’t meant for you. Your subconscious can tell if you’re headed towards a place that isn’t right for you, and sometimes that results in not making the progress you want.

Also, don’t minimize how far you’ve come! If you’re feeling down, think about all the progress you’ve made so far and how you’re not going to go back to where you were before.

#4 – Pick Yourself Up

If you’re good at motivating yourself, power through it like the goddess you are!! Fall down seven times, stand up eight, as the saying goes.

Related: 10 Affirmations for Female Entrepreneurs

#5 – Take a Break

It’s okay to walk away for a few days to clear your mind. You won’t undo all your progress, I promise! Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you may need to take breaks for health purposes.

I have a habit of obsessing over my goals, which is great but not all the time. So being able to take a mini-vacation from my goals helps me come back feeling refreshed and allows me to focus way better.

I personally like to play video games and watch youtube/twitch when I’m trying to take a break. Exercising also helps me personally feel better. It’s all about figuring out what works for you and what causes you to feel relaxed and refreshed.

#6 – Change Your Mindset

Your mind is powerful… if you tell yourself you’re going to fail, you probably will. If you tell yourself you already are a failure, you’re going to start believing it automatically. I know sometimes it feels cheesy and uncomfortable to say nice things to yourself, but being nice to yourself is so much better than being mean!

Always strive to fill your soul with positivity and love!

What to do when you feel like a failure? Change your mindset!

#7 – Be Kind to Yourself

Being mean to yourself or punishing yourself for “failing” won’t help the situation. It can actually have the opposite effect, and make you want to give up so that you don’t have to punish yourself anymore. I was like this for years and it just doesn’t feel pleasant.

Also, just because you might not be making the progress you want to make doesn’t automatically render that progress invalid. Progress is still progress, no matter how small.

I know a lot of us put pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time. That isn’t realistic nor is it sustainable! You’re going to have good days and bad days and that’s normal and completely okay.

#8 – Never Give Up

You’ll only fail if you stop trying. When I look back at the things I wish I had accomplished sooner in life, the one thing they all have in common is that I stopped trying because I felt like I was going to fail. That’s right, I was so terrified of failure that I completely abandoned whatever it was I was trying to do! You’re stronger than your fear of failure. And even though pushing through it is really really REALLY hard sometimes, it feels better than giving up!

Let’s Connect! 

What do you do when you feel like a failure?

How do you cope with negative feelings?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!!

Thanks so much for reading!


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What should you do when you feel like you've failed?



  1. Geraldine
    February 21, 2019 / 5:40 pm

    Great post Jackie!! It’s definitely a good reminder because this happens all too often in our lives (unfortunately) and it’s important to be able to bounce back from failure or disappointments as soon as possible!! It’s not an easy change but these tips are really helpful – that was exactly what I did when I realized what I graduated for wasn’t working out! It’s sad but there is no point bashing my head against a wall trying to make it work. Well done and well written! xx

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

    • Jackie
      February 21, 2019 / 8:39 pm

      Thanks so much for reading! I had similar sentiments when I graduated and got a full-time job. I’m glad it was helpful for you, and thanks for reading!!

  2. February 22, 2019 / 12:08 pm

    These are some great points! I sometimes set up goals that are too vague, so setting up specific ones definitely help! I used to be veryyy perfectionistic, so failure definitely freaked me out (and still does a little bit). And I’d feel like one often because my standards were too high. I’ve learned that it is useful to have more of a positive mindset and to take breaks when necessary. I definitely agree with your last point too; I think having the determination to keep going despite any setbacks is a great quality to have. 🙂

    • Jackie
      February 22, 2019 / 9:21 pm

      Setting vague goals is something I’ve had to unlearn. I would set super vague goals and get upset when I didn’t reach them! I also tend to be a perfectionist. It’s also important to have a good mindset, but I only learned that after A LOT of failing haha. Thanks for reading!

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