The drive to create something beautiful is an instinct found in everyone. Each creation is a product born from the perfect cocktail of imagination, artistic caliber, and steely grit. No matter how strong that desire is, the journey to get there isn’t always smooth-sailing. Before a creative career comes to fruition, there’ll be numerous bumps on the road, with the engine often sputtering along the way.

For creatives whose success hinges on risk-taking, audience appreciation, and experimental strategies, failing never seems like an option. This makes handling failure a necessary skill in order to navigate what is often an unstable and unforgiving career path.

When you do find yourself hitting rock bottom, how do you find your way back up? Luckily, in more ways than one, failure isn’t a wall, but a catalyst for your own improvement.

Mistakes put success into perspective

First, establish what you personally define as failure, then think of what a successful outcome looks like for your specific goals. Think of your last failure, identify the contributing factors, and turn those points into a positive affirmation you can strive for. For instance, instead of “My work wasn’t developed enough” say “Establish 10 stages of development.” Make a list of the most successful projects in your portfolio and outline the goals for your next one.

Failing gives you a point of comparison and brings clarity to what success looks like for you. Trying to achieve your goals perfectly teaches you nothing, because it’s the mistakes that teach you more about your own progress. If it took you being unsuccessful 12 times in a row to finally succeed, that’s still a victory. When you’re being hard on yourself for not being able to build a solid portfolio in a month, you’re not allowing room for yourself to breathe. Don’t lose sight of small victories because they help you get a sense of your improvement.

Persisting past failure allows you to hone perseverance

For most people, failure is at the top of their list of fears. Rather than taking precaution to avoid failure, imagine failure as something to be embraced. Failure is an inevitability that all creatives need to learn how to handle.

The time you spend within a period of failure is a special circumstance that only you can make the best of. It’s that moment of weakness or disadvantage that lies as a hidden opportunity to be grateful for. Your reaction to failure matters more than actually failing itself. On the second try, put in twice the effort. On the third, five times the effort. Failing prompts you to condition your mentality, allowing you to adapt to circumstances that are outside of your comfort zone.

What is the small voice in your head telling you? Creatives tend to be their own harshest critic, so eliminate the negativity that’s holding you back. After you overcome the inward battles, you can turn them into action and be able to further explore your own capacity and skills.

It forces you to be resourceful

Failing at something never means a total failure, it only means you’ve failed in one particular way. Reflect on your previous approach and take note of every step and how you accomplished them. What can you change? How did you get to where you are?

The takeaway here is to ensure you’re making the best out of your resources. Consider all the possible ways you can achieve your goal and evaluate them. Have you exhausted all options? Examine each possible path but stay realistic.

You’re most likely better off trying to build one skill at a time than trying to learn five at once. It’s both a practical process of elimination and a learning experience: once you’ve reorganized yourself and assembled your new options, you can proceed from a different angle. Because…

Your best is always (and should be) changing

One reason people don’t respond to failure is because they understand it as an abstraction looming over them. This spurs the negative downtalk to take over whenever you’re about to take on a challenge. ”If I do this I might fail;” “I can’t do this, because what if this happens.”

But when you achieve your personal best, don’t stop and settle for it. Hitting those milestones motivates you to do more. Approach failures like what they are: minor deviations from your personal best. If you feel like you haven’t accomplished your goal, there’s always tomorrow.