The Gradlife – How to turn a loss into a win

How do you turn a loss into a win?

My own personal perspective is that ‘winning is the result of countless losses’.

Personal experiences, testimonials from family and friends, and anyone else with a story, have all taught me that winning never feels as good unless you’ve experienced losing.

Let’s face it, at some point in life we’ve all been told the words ‘don’t give up’. You’ve probably even said it yourself.

But regardless of when it was said, we can all recall the moment we finally pushed through it. Suddenly everything you’ve endured becomes worth it, and despite the challenges that arose, the countless knock-backs you endeavoured and the ‘L’s you took along the way, you can finally say you won – you made it.

By appreciating a loss you learn to value a win. And if you can learn to place as much focus on that, then losing can actually end up resulting in something positive.

Here are just a few losing scenarios you might find yourselves in, as well as my top tips to help you turn things around.


1. Not getting the grades you wanted

Ah, the dreaded results day. Like a real-life version of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ – ‘palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. He’s nervous but on the surface, he looks calm and ready.’

Okay, so I’m excluding the bit about vomiting from your mum’s spaghetti (I’m sure your mum’s spaghetti is lovely). However, what he’s describing is a genuine anxiousness that at some point we all go through, especially when it’s quite literally concerning a life changing moment, and you feel as though it’s one that could either make or break you.

But you don’t have to let one result define you and dictate your future. Even if you’re disappointed with how your results have gone, it doesn’t have to be the be-all-and-end-all. You can turn it into something positive – and here’s how.

Go to Plan B. In other words, prepare for your results just like you did for your exams, and create a contingency plan which outlines what your next steps might be if XYZ were to happen.


You do this by asking yourself some key questions such as:

By not having the results I need what will be the outcome?

Is this the only route to get to where I want to go?

What are some alternative options available to me?

Out of these options, which one would suit me best?


The key to having a Plan B is by knowing that there will always be one. Though it may not be your first choice, there’s always another route. And if at first you don’t succeed don’t ever stop trying.

And, who knows? Plan B could end up being even better than Plan A.

Some of the world’s most successful people haven’t always had the best results – and many more have taken unconventional ways to get to the top. And I can bet you that none of them gave up trying because of a bad grade.

How to deal with exam stress


2. Not getting into your chosen University

Getting into university is never an easy task.

You have to decide where you want to go; whether to live at home or away; the course you want to study; what grades you need to get. The list is practically endless.

So, what do you do when your chosen university turns you down?

First of all: don’t panic. Evaluate your situation, and consider your options. If you’re still set on the university life, you may still have a chance to go. Clearing provides some fantastic courses at top universities that you may not have even seen.

Quite often students have a very negative perception of clearing. To clarify: clearing is simply a pool of universities and colleges that still have availability left on their courses.

This means you could find your course available at a different uni, or find an entirely different course that you might actually prefer.

There are plenty of accounts of people going through clearing, who either ended up in a better university, or took a completely different course and absolutely loved it.

And some of those who went straight to work are now earning more than they would have expected with their degree, or may even have had vocational courses paid for by their employers.

I wouldn’t consider any of those outcomes to be a loss.

Clearing: How does it work?

How to: Prepare for you first year of uni


3. Not Getting the Job

Let’s say you applied for 10 jobs. For every one of those, 100 other jobseekers also apply. This means your CV could be up against 1,000 others – and that level of competition isn’t always easy.

In a competitive job market, managing your expectations is paramount. Even with a great application, you won’t always get the job. But it’s all about making yourself stand out.

That means aside from meeting all the necessary requirements, you have to properly sell your strengths and adapt your application to meet the job spec. And putting in the extra time is what will pay dividends in the long run.

If you’re still not successful? Don’t take it personally. Just look at yourself as being one step closer to the right role.

Remember, your career isn’t about finding ‘A’ job – it’s about finding ‘THE’ job.

Do. Not. Settle.

Try accentuating the positives, and looking at not getting that job as a good thing. Why? Because it will give you time to enhance more of your skills – or even acquire some new ones. You never know, you could end up getting more experience elsewhere and then moving into an even better job.

So, how can you turn a loss into a win?

Prepare for both outcomes, always remain optimistic, never give up and do not settle. Remember: only by embracing your losses will a win become inevitable.

How to: Deal with interview rejection

Five things you should never do if you don’t get the job



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