Getting out of a Failure Mindset in Young Adulthood

Home Failure To Launch Getting out of a Failure Mindset in Young Adulthood

Research suggests that the way people view failure is a better predictor of their ability to make changes in their lives than the way they view success. According to Stanford University researchers, parents’ failure mindsets are often more visible to children than their growth mindsets, and therefore, are more prominent in shaping their beliefs about themselves. Transition programs for young adults struggling with failure to launch help young adults challenge their beliefs about failure and build evidence that they are capable of living independently.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

One of the biggest red flags of an unhealthy failure mindset is setting oneself up to fail. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that causes itself to be true due to the behavior of the believer. For example, someone who believe that they will not graduate from college on time is more likely to skip classes or procrastinate assignments, leading to being put on academic probation. While it may not be their decision to drop out, their behavior manifests circumstances where dropping out or taking time off is a realistic option. Self-fulfilling prophecies function by avoiding responsibility for actions leading up to “failure” that seems out of one’s control.

Challenging Negative Beliefs


  • Failure means I should give up because I will never be good enough. 


Just like stress, failure is not always a negative thing. There are some types of failure that take a toll on one’s self-esteem and ability to plan for the future. But, there are some types of failure that serve as a reminder “this didn’t work out because I was unprepared for this situation and I can choose to take a different path.” This might look like taking a gap year off school to determine what kind of school would be a better fit or what kind of skills someone has for a job. 


  • If I’ve failed once, I’m going to fail again.


Young adults tend to think of “failure to launch” as something permanent rather than an opportunity to consider what exactly it was that they wanted to launch into in the first place. This can be a good opportunity for young adults to consider whether they have failed to achieve their parents’ goals or their own goals. Failure to launch only becomes a cycle when young adults continue to pursue the same goals with the same approach and expect different results.

Ways to Challenge a Failure Mindset 


  • Start small. Many young adults have a “go big or go home” attitude that sets them up for disappointment. If they don’t get into an Ivy League school, they may be hesitant to enroll in a community college to earn credits, but it can help them develop stronger study skills in a lower pressure environment. If they don’t get selected for their dream job, they may be hesitant to get an unpaid internship or volunteer with a similar organization, even though it can help them get experience and determine if it is the kind of career they want to pursue. Changing one’s expectations doesn’t have to mean changing one’s long-term goals. 
  • Celebrate personal strengths. It is impossible to be good at everything all the time. While young adults may be sensitive to perceived “failures,” it is important to remember that they have strengths that balance these out. Focusing on one’s strengths rather than dwelling on one’s limitations can help young adults build confidence and make more realistic goals.
  • Self-advocate. More often than not, “failure to launch” is based on feedback from others, rather than the way one feels about themselves. While this label may bring a sense of helplessness, building communication skills and self-esteem can help young adults advocate for themselves when applying for jobs, enrolling in classes, and setting boundaries with parents. At a transition program, mentors help students work on resumes and applications that showcase their strengths and the ways they’ve overcome challenges in their lives.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps young adults identify beliefs about themselves, like “I am a failure,” gather evidence about how this belief was shaped, and look for alternative explanations. It can also help young adults separate “failures in life” from failures as a person. Our therapists believe that changing the way one thinks about themselves can have a powerful impact on how they find lasting success in other areas of their lives.




Foundations Asheville Can Help 

Foundations Asheville is a program for young adults ages 18-24 who are struggling to find the motivation to launch into adulthood. Many of our students struggle with anxiety, depression, social skills, and learning difficulties. This program is committed to helping young adults develop and sharpen the skills they need to be successful in the real world. There is a focus on teaching students how to enter the workforce, develop vocational trades, and functional living skills. Foundations Asheville gives young adults the opportunity to gain confidence, find their purpose, and learn useful skills that will help them navigate through the adult years.

For more information on how to motivate your struggling young adult, call 18773187273. We can help your family today!



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