Losing a Winning Battle: 6 Steps to Overcoming Failure & Disappointment

Ever have one of those weeks, where just a few days before, the whole world seemed to be coming together to support you and shove you on your way to the next stage of success, only to be flipped upside down in an instant, for no apparent reason?  Why is it that just when we seem to be making it over the hill, we slip and fall half way back down? That is how my week has gone. Hope turned to excitement, turned to worry, turned to crash and burn! Yet, as I look back, all of this was out of my control. Nothing was in my power to change, as I was at the mercy of those around me. So how does one cope with losing a winning battle, a fight that you thought was in the bag?

I think we have all felt this way from time to time. Yet, as I sit here and contemplate my circumstances, I must admit that I really only have two options moving forward. One, I can curl up in a ball and cry, giving up and calling game over.  Or two, I can get up, evaluate, learn, plan, prepare, and execute the next phase of my life and business. I am not one to give up so, in reality, I really only have one option. I must keep moving forward. The battle may have turned, but the war is far from over and I will prevail.

Of course, it is easy to sound strong on paper, but what does that look like in real life? How does one stay positive in a world so full of negativity and disappointment?

The first step is to know that it is OK to grieve. Losing a battle is never easy, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find that emotions are overwhelming. Grieving is an important first step because it allows you to say your peace and let it go. Don’t try to hold it in or ignore your frustration; this will only build up and cause disaster later.

The second step is to evaluate what went wrong. Why did things not turn out they way you thought they would? What could have you done differently? Were your expectations in-line with reality? Often times, our expectations were out of whack and that got the best of us. We thought things would move quicker, be easier, cost less, not take so much energy, etc.

The third step is to learn from the loss. Even if it was completely out of your control, there is still a lesson to learn. This stage will help you identify just how to prevent the same mistakes or issues next time, but it often means that we have to take ownership and admit our part. The reality is that there is always something that we could have done differently. This is not a time for emotions or pride to get in the way. This is where you let everything go so that you can see the big picture, clearly and without distraction.

The fourth step is to plan. Now that you know what went wrong, it’s time to build a new stronger plan. Taking into account what you learned from the loss, figure out how to get around the hurdles and issues that caused you to stumble. In this stage, you don’t want to leave anything off the table. Brainstorm new ideas, think outside the box, dream bigger than before. As you brainstorm ways to conquer what has been holding you back, start making your game plan. What resources will you need? What skills do you need to acquire? What is a realistic timeline? Answer these questions and a solid plan will start to form.

The fifth step is to prepare. Now that you have a plan, its time to start gathering everything you need to ensure the plan’s success. This stage is often forgotten, and may have even been why you lost the last battle. We want to jump straight from the planning stage to the implementation stage, but it does not work that way. Any great expedition or venture needs to gather resources, support, skills, and the people necessary to help ensure success.

The sixth step is the execution stage. This is where things on paper turn into action. At this point, you should have everything you need to re-launch your campaign. Of course, this is the most perilous stage. Here is where all your planning and preparing will pay off. Yet, it is also at this point that flashbacks of past failures will haunt us the most. If we are not careful, these hauntings could prevent us from ever executing our plan. It is important to remember that even those who win the war will often lose many battles along the way. These losses serve to teach us and make us stronger. Don’t let them destroy you, but instead, see them as preparing you to be one step closer to absolute victory.