Failure or Opportunity: You Get to Choose

When you're in the throes of shame, picking yourself up is hard — but it's important to learn to turn your failures into opportunities.

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It’s inevitable that when we embark on ambitious endeavors, there will be setbacks.

Goal setting is designed to get us farther along the road toward success. Without clearly defined goals, many of us would meander through our days and only accomplish a fraction of the things we’re capable of.

But being vulnerable enough to even have such lofty ideas as goals also increases the potential for failure. The catch is this — if we never see failure, it’s difficult to fully appreciate our successes or to have success in the first place. This is true with any contrast and applies even if your failures aren’t big ones. Think about it: whites appear much more brilliant when held against a darker color. Joy is sweeter and more welcome after a time of sorrow. And the view from a mountaintop is most appreciated after a difficult climb.

All of this is great in theory, sure, but when you’re in the throes of shame after a mistake, it can be hard to pick yourself back up. Simply put, it’s important to embrace your journey and keep moving forwardHere are a few ways you can turn your failures into opportunities (AKA handle your setbacks in a way that also propels you onward and upward):

Choose Your Focus

Failures or missteps come with opportunities. But where Creative Giants can thrive is that instead of focusing on the setback, start focusing on the bounce back. It’s not always easy when we as a society are constantly comparing ourselves to others and viewing everyone’s curated highlight reels on social media. Our mindset shifts and we start to tell ourselves stories that aren’t always true. It’s a skill we truly need to learn; to make the mental shift from lamenting on our imperfections to reflecting on how we can learn and grow, and to start moving forward with more knowledge, experience, and clarity.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Avoiding your issues can lead to anxiety – since when did putting anything off serve you? So you can’t ignore your setbacks all together, and it’s important to acknowledge them sooner rather than later and see where there is room for growth. Instead of reprimanding yourself and getting stuck in a cycle of self-shame, ask yourself this question: What can you do to take what you need from the setback, shift that mindset to a more positive one, and get back to where you were? Mistakes happen to everybody. What really matters is what you do with those mistakes, and what you learn from them. Use them as a tool to shift your momentum in a new direction.

Be Kind to Yourself

Taking stock of your energy levels is an important skill to be paying attention to. Try to notice patterns in your mood or behavior during certain times of the day, week, month, quarter, or year, and how your energy fluctuates and impacts your productivity. Know that no matter what your energy level is, that it’s not wrong. Be kind to yourself and realize that these natural shifts happen. Consider steps you can take to prevent the next setback. One example is setting a reminder in your phone for November 1st with the message “Winter is coming” (Game of Thrones, anyone?) so you have a physical reminder that now is the time for a planned break and more self-care during a season where you feel less-than-enthusiastic. By noting this tendency, you’ll remember that an energetic shift is coming and you’ll start making decisions that will better support you. This way you can begin to down-cycle before you get into water that’s too deep for you.

Anything from a mistake at work, a date gone wrong, or fumbling through a yoga class can be a situation where you can turn a negative into a positive learning experience. Ultimately, we’re all going to make mistakes and have setbacks. If we didn’t, nothing would get accomplished! You aren’t broken for being imperfect, and you should be proud of taking a risk in the first place. Continue to focus on your forward momentum, and continue to take chances. Continue to grow, always. Your next big mistake could lead to your next big win, so put yourself out there with your head held high. The world needs you to. (Tweet this.)

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