I recently had a huge career setback that depleted not only my bank account, but also, my self-esteem. I invested an enormous amount of time, money, and energy into a project that went absolutely nowhere. I’m really stuck right now because I’m terrified of taking the next step forward. How can I make a strong comeback after what feels like a colossal failure?
– An independent curator, Boston
Although failure can be a big blow to the ego and to the bank account, it’s important to remember that it happens to everyone, and, at the risk of sounding cliché–it isn’t the end of the world.
While the project may have failed, YOU are not a failure. And just because this specific project work as you’d hoped, doesn’t mean your future projects are doomed as well. It’s important to understand this in order to move on and prepare yourself to jump into your next project. A few tips on getting “unstuck”:
Find the lesson.
There’s always something to be learned from every failure that can help you make better and stronger plans for your next creative project. What went wrong? What unexpected problems appeared? What could you change or improve? Even if you can’t find clear answers for these questions immediately, it’s worth spending a bit of time on this type of “post-mortem” so you don’t miss out on the valuable information to be gained from the experience.
Understand that failure isn’t forever.
I bet the main reason you aren’t making progress on new projects is that you’re spending a fair amount of time worrying about what could go wrong on your next big project. Instead of starting or working on your current project, you’re imagining worse case scenarios for things you haven’t even done yet! Worrying about what might happen won’t protect you from failure, but it will result in creative paralysis. My advice: Get out of your head and get to work. Focus on what needs to be done now.
Every creative career is a process. In a world obsessed with fame, success, and achievement, it’s easy to forget the importance of failure. Instead of viewing the experience as a sign of inadequacy, we should view it as a valuable part of the creative process.
Resource: The Smart Way to Handle Failure