“Even the accomplished suffers setbacks sometimes. The more bitter the lessons, the greater the successes will be.” -Lucio Tan
You are going to fail at some point in your patent law career. You are going to fail at some point in your life. It stings when reality doesn’t align with your expectations. Sometimes you fail because of your own missteps, and there are times you will fail because a situation is completely out of your control.
Whether you failed the bar exam, the patent bar exam, or didn’t get the dream job, it’s these trying moments and these major setbacks that will define your drive and create your future.
You could give up and walk away. That’s the easiest road to take and the road so many end up taking because of a setback. But you are stronger than you know. You are going to dust yourself off and keep trekking because you are in this for the long haul.
Working as a patent agent or patent lawyer will be worth the setbacks you endure, and there are steps you can take to overcome any setback or obstacle.
Analyze the Situation
The first step is to take a deep breath and analyze the situation in which you failed. There are several questions you will need to ask yourself to properly understand everything that happened.
- Why did things go the way they did?
- Could you have prevented what happened or was it out of your hands?
- What could you do differently next time that might change the outcome to a positive one?
- What can you learn from this situation?
This is where critical thinking comes into play. You have to think outside of your emotions and personal perception of a situation.
You may feel you studied hard, but you failed the patent bar exam. If you look outside of your emotions, you may realize you may not have dedicated enough time to learning certain aspects of the patent process. You stumbled on specific questions.
Looking at it from another perspective helps too. Ask a close colleague or friend to analyze your setback if you feel comfortable divulging in someone else on the situation.
Stay Focused on Your Goal
A setback can emotionally impact you more than you realize in the beginning. This can make your goal seem close to impossible. It can also cause a fear that can paralyze you from growing and trying again.
You can’t let failure keep you down for too long. It’s okay to grieve and spend some time healing yourself, but you can’t wallow in misery for too long. You have to stay focused on your goal.
If the situation deems it necessary, you may need to reevaluate your goals. Make them more accessible by creating smaller goals that lead up to your biggest goal.
Make a list of what you want to accomplish. “Become a patent attorney” is too vague. Break it down into what steps you need to take to get there. As an example, “Pass the bar exam” can turn into “study four hours daily.” It helps to see these goals in writing.
Create a New Plan
If you’ve already failed it, the next time you take the patent bar exam, you might need to try a different study routine. The only way to turn the negative of a setback into a positive one is to learn from what happened. This is where focusing on your goals helps immensely.
You’ve analyzed your situation, and at this point, you should know what you need to change or work on to pass the exam on your next try. Make a detailed plan that will help you do better next time.
Break your goals down into bullet points or a diagram. Whatever works best for you that will guide you to success.
You know where you took a wrong turn since you’ve analyzed the situation and you’ve created a detailed plan on what you need to do to do better. The next obvious step is to take action and begin the plan that you put thought into.
You want to implement your plan and put it into action. You need to ignore the excuses in your head as to why this won’t work, or the thoughts telling you to give up. You need to step up and work harder.
If you plan on studying, stick to your plan. Stick to the hours you’ve set for your study hours. Eliminate any distractions that could deter you.
Stay focused on your goals, and this will motivate you when it comes to sticking to your plan.
Keep Challenging Yourself
The most important thing to remember is to keep challenging yourself despite your struggles and setbacks. If you don’t, you will remain stagnate and won’t accomplish everything you have set out to do.
If you accomplish your goals, set new ones. Your wisdom and maturity stop when you pique in life. So, don’t let yourself pique. Continue to grow and continue to learn.
This goes beyond just your career as a patent attorney or agent. You want to grow in all aspects of your life. You want to be the best you that you can be.
You Often Have to Fail a Few Times to Succeed
Everyone has setbacks, and everyone fails. You’re not alone in this, and you aren’t the first to be in your position, whether you failed the exam or bombed an interview.
Success is subjective, but every successful person has one thing in common. They’ve all had setbacks, but they kept on fighting through these problems. They put their fists up and take a jab right back at life.
The most common thought when one has a setback is that you’re a failure. You are only a failure if you give up trying.