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What to do when you fail an attempt or a number of attempts?

Mythreya , Last updated: 18 February 2010  

What to do when you fail an attempt or a number of attempts?

The popular advices for this question are:

·         Sit and analyze where you have gone wrong

·         Revise more

·         Try a different strategy

·         Buy a better reference book

·         Attend different Coaching classes

The student does all or some of this and again fails! And again he or she is thrown into confusion. What the hell is happening in my life? He or She promptly enters into depression (some even think of suicide), his or her self-esteem takes a beating. Anything can take a beating but never your self-esteem. It is the real wealth and the only wealth you have. All concepts and precepts of religion and morality, success and failure, love and hatred is formed from this. Don’t lose this self-esteem at any cost. We Indians had (and still have to some extent) a tendency to lose our self-esteem at the first given chance. We wait for leaders, inspirers, Gandhis to come and lead us but little do we do an inner-think about ourselves and where we stand.

So let me dissect each of these popular advices to pieces.

“Sit and analyze where you have gone wrong”---It’s easy to say this by people who have cleared the exam or who are not in your shoes. You plain would not do such a thing. Your mind resists the idea of you having to do a post-mortem of the paper which you failed. Mind seeks pleasure always and an undisciplined mind seeks easy pleasure as it cannot stand denial of self-gratification. So sitting and analyzing and being self-judgmental requires a strong mind. If you have a really strong mind (don’t fool yourself, stand before the mirror and look whether you can face yourself) then you can go ahead with the post-mortem work.

“Revise more”—Yes, this is some what of a better advice. But this revision also has a strategy (Read my article on how to revise for success).Also, it is a bore to revise the same portions once enthusiastically read attempt after attempt. The student enters a kind of daze and yawns at the boredom of it all.

“Try a different strategy”—this is what I call a “Non-advice” advice. This looks like a good advice on the face of it but has no meaning. The person who is proffering this advice must be specific. What the heck is the meaning of “different strategy”? It is as good as saying to a person who says he/she is hungry, “Go eat food”. Doesn’t he/she know that?

Buying a better reference book or attending a coaching class is not a sure-shot remedy either. Many a reference book has been referred and many a failure has been encountered(and vice-versa also but the failed student always focuses on failure more and is ever-critical and bitter after his/her failure).The same is the case with Coaching centers.


So what do you do?

You have two options---

Option 1: Quit this whole farce called CA and lead a peaceful life elsewhere doing some other thing.

Option 2: Give the next attempt.

I’m not mentioning a 3rd more dangerous option: Suicide here as it is meaningless.

A sane student/human would go for the second option unless he or she feels that a mistake has really been committed by entering this course. In this context, it would not be out of place to mention that one must analyze one’s aptitude, intelligence level, enthusiasm, etc before taking up CA. And not blindly enter into this course and then later on spend good number years in Articleship and then finally leave this course in disillusionment. Can ICAI or your principal give back your youthful years?

Option 2 must be taken recourse after all this.


What most often weighs you down and brings you misery is the past, in the form of unnecessary attachments, repetitions of tired formulas, and the memory of old victories and defeats. You must consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react in the present moment. Be ruthless on yourself; do not repeat the same tired methods. Sometimes you must force yourself to strike out in new directions, even if they involve risk. What you may lose in comfort and security, you will gain in surprise, making it harder for your inner failings to tell you what to do. Wage guerilla war on your mind, allowing no static lines of defense, no exposed citadels - make everything fluid and mobile.

If you want cut off friendships which are a burden on your time, change your residence, Change your reference books, Change your coaching centre, change whatever darned thing or things you need to change but CHANGE you must. I will not spoon-feed you here on what you need to do to keep yourself fluid and mobile. I’m just going to throw some hints and then you will be able to catch the whiff of it all. I’m showing a branch and the moon shines between the branch but I don’t show the moon(as it is not possible),I just show the branches and suddenly you have an eureka moment(which is special for you) and you say, “YES! I have found my moon” This is all a true teacher can do. This is all a true teacher should do. Unfortunately we have lot of spoon feeders and they make us weak.

This is an attitude of mind which you must develop to counteract failures. Being fluid is an art.


Learn to emotionally detach from the failure. Say to yourself some student has failed,its not me(even though you keep your marksheet before you!) and then start dissecting like a bio-lab dissector the failure. At the back of you mind, you had a cringing feeling you would not make it in costing yet kept a smiling face before friends cheating everyone, till the D-Day when the results came and you flopped in Costing and then joined the chorus of students who bashed ICAI for the poor results. You had some temporary relief. No doubt!.. but then the gnawing feeling is not over. You cannot cheat yourself, you did a great job cheating everyone around you but you fail before yourself.

So, you pounce on Costing during this calm stage, not as yourself but as analyzing some other student who had failed. It’s always easy to point out mistakes of someone else than to be truthful with oneself and face the music. You have to fool your mind (and mind is easily malleable and ductile! You can bend it to your will, you can fool it easily).You do the post-mortem work now. Anyone who starts with the postmortem work directly without proper mental preparation will not get proper results.And people who claim that they have the mental prowess to analyze their results unbiased are again fooling themselves.No one can really be totally unbiased unless they have a mental dissonance purposely created like this.

If your name is Anirban and you failed last attempt.You take your marksheet and say to yourself, "Why did Anirban1 fail? This is Anirban 2 asking this."Say this actually to your mind.This is not something stupid,this has scientific basis on the concept called cognitive dissonance created by Muller and they use precisely this technique to cure terminal failures in life.

This is at the end of these 2 stages—Fluidity first, then at the end of Calmness.To get the calmness you may meditate,or take a break or go for a vacation completely forgetting all this failure and CA or do something which totally distracts the mind from it temporarily(dont go and drink in the local pub to drown your sorrows in the booze! That is stupid!Its not gonna work!)

That’s about it! This method will make you slowly conquer ground and beat the failure and transmute it alchemically to success.Believe me,it works and has worked for soem of my friends.I helped them with it.

Always great things in life are either free or simple to attain. Everything else you know what to do. Buy new reference books, go to new coaching classes, etc these run-of-the-mill options which people dole out in general to those who fail, you can choose judiciously only after you have carefully destroyed your old weak self which made the mistakes in the first place. You now feel like a new student who starts afresh like a Phoenix which rises from ashes.

Clarity comes forth from simplicity, so un-clutter your life and be fluid and yet retain an unemotional calmness. CA exam is something man-made, so don’t get too worked up or emotional about it.

Then follow what your mind says as true and beneficial. Don’t be cowered by peer-pressure here. Always while in postmortem work take the counsel of one good/genuine friend who is interested in your welfare. Don’t let emotions cover your judgment in this as friends are the first people who will be jealous about your progress, rare is a good friend! And if you have a good friend, you are blessed.

Keep yourself inspired always. Let your room emanate the fragrance of self-confidence. Stick messages of confidence. Keep books of self-help in your vicinity, even if you don’t read them all, their vibrations help.

Keep yourself uncluttered and organized,bold and confident,rise like a thousand lions and elephants in strength.Dont cower down and die a daily death of a coward, live once and die once bravely!

Finally, after all this post-mortem work is done and you have identified problem areas: You immediately focus on resolving those areas. Don’t postpone this.

Then follow the advices I have given in my earlier(and future) articles, regarding revision, positive crisis situation (which should now be bereft of the burden of past failures),strategies to adopt for various subjects,etc. In my profile home page you will find a link to all my articles and postings in forum. Have a look at them all.Best is yet to come!

God Bless Ya!


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