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Learning from Failure: How to Achieve Success from Past Defeats


Quitting a job, flunking a test, blowing your diet...maybe forgetting to learn from failure, is part of the human condition. Corporate executives, world leaders and stay-at-home moms all make mistakes in the course of their lives. Achieving success from past defeats is attainable. In fact, how people deal with failure is what defines true success.

When a Door Closes, a Window Opens

Today's poor economic climate has thrown many people into the world of unemployment. While it can be devastating to worry about how to pay a mortgage and feed your family when your job is gone, many people use this massive change as a way to rethink what they really want out of life. Always wanted to open a bakery or sell your handmade greeting cards? Give it a go. If you don't try, you will never know how successful you might have been.

Comparison to Others Is Not Always Fruitful

Do you have a friend who runs a business, volunteers at the local animal shelter and has an incredible organic vegetable garden, too? Or a colleague that can whip up a five-course dinner in an hour as well as turn a fixer-upper house into something you'd see in House Beautiful? Women in our society often compare themselves to these do-it-all types, making themselves feel inadequate. This helps no one. Celebrate the things you do well and do not stress about what other people achieve. Chances are, these women see you as successful and well-rounded. And, not surprisingly, even the most seemingly "perfect" women have their own issues.

There Is No One Right Path to Success

Our society often defines success in a cookie-cutter way. The big house in the suburbs, the fancy cars in the driveway, the kids who look like models for the Gap... Just like with clothes, one size does not fit all. You are an intelligent woman and have made your own way to wherever you are at this moment. Maybe there are decisions in your past that you regret. Everyone has them. Dream, journal, talk to friends about your visions for what you'd like your life to look like in five, ten or twenty-five years, and then take the steps to make those goals and pictures come alive. In short, have courage in your convictions.

After a Fall, Pick Yourself Up and Start Again

If you've ever watched a toddler learning to walk, there are inevitably spills involved. But did you also notice what the parents do after the fall? They coo at their little one, "It's OK, honey, you can do it."  Why can't grownups do this for themselves and each other? Maybe your friend broke her leg, right in the middle of training for a triathlon. You remind her that she'll recover and can train again when the time is right. Be as kind to yourself as you are with others. Make the time to exercise. Work on that novel or business plan you have put on hold for eons. Your road to success may be windy or potholed, but don't let the failures stop you from the successes that certainly await you.


About the author: Alicia Klepeis is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. A former middle school geography teacher, she has written for the National Geographic Society, as well as magazines including The Dollar Stretcher, Fun For Kidz, Kiki and Sprinkles. She also writes for Suite 101. Her website is

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