Even the most successful real estate agents can recall suffering stinging failures at some point in their career. If anything, success in this business is as much about bouncing back from setbacks and disappointments as it is scoring big wins.

First, is it your failure?
Before you start analyzing the failure, it’s worth asking yourself whether it was truly your failure or simply an unfortunate situation that was out of your hands. Is it your fault that a buyer backed out of a deal at the last second? Or that the typically reliable home inspector you hired somehow missed a major rat infestation? Perhaps there were things you could have done to prevent those problems, but in some cases the fault is entirely somebody else’s and you have to accept that and move on.

Write down each individual misstep
A big deal has fallen through and there are a number of things that you feel you should have done differently. Rather than allowing them to swirl around in your head, sit down and write down each action you took and determine whether that action was a mistake.

For instance, let’s say a rehab project went horribly over budget and didn’t fetch a good price. You might be tempted to dismiss the whole thing as one giant mistake, but the fact is, maybe it wouldn’t have been if there were a couple key steps done differently. Think about what things could have produced a different result. Should you have hired a different contractor? Should you have taken more time to learn about the local permitting rules? Should you have marketed the property differently?

Get feedback from a trusted ally
After analyzing the situation yourself, talk it over with a friend or colleague and see how their analysis compares to your own. Test the conclusion that you have drawn and see if they can poke holes it in. They may have a helpful perspective that will shine light on things that didn’t occur to you.  

Hold yourself accountable, but not in contempt
You need to take stock of your actions and learn from them, but beating yourself over a mistake over and over again does nothing but demoralize you and can leave you paralyzed in the face of future challenges.

Identify the underlying weaknesses
It’s one thing to spot a mistake and tell yourself you won’t do that again, but it’s more important to consider what underlying weakness led to that mistake. Was it a lack of attention? Was it impatience? Being too generous or trusting? Think about how you can improve that weakness over the long-term.

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