Put your failures down on paper

The technique can help you succeed in the future.

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Rather than sulking when you fail to hit a goal (like that long-sought-after marathon PR), writing about the experience can make you more likely to succeed next time, according to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Putting the failure on paper prepares your body and brain to encounter a similar stressor in the future, says study author Brynne DiMenichi, a doctoral candidate in the Learning & Decision Making Lab at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Maybe you crashed at mile 20 because you didn’t fuel properly or you headed to the race without rain gear.

Those are important slip-ups to note, but the study participants didn’t just write about the logistics of their failures. They also wrote about how falling short made them feel.


When you underperform, journaling about the facts and your emotional reactions can prime you for success, says DiMenichi. This type of expressive writing desensitizes you to the stress of the challenge, so the next time you step up to the starting line you'll be calmer and your body will release less cortisol.