Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Learning From Times When Things Don't Work Out

Things don’t always go our way. Sometimes, our best-laid plans fall apart. Sometimes, a wrench gets thrown into the works. Sometimes, we just plain fail.

When that happens, there are two things you can do: you can let the failure paralyze you, or you can dust yourself off and move on. The first is easy. The second, difficult.

Sadly, many people do the first thing. In varying degrees of severity. Failure might paralyze them. It might make them gun shy. It might make them second guess themselves, their abilities, and their plans.

When things don’t work out, don’t let the failure control you. Don’t let it corrode your confidence or your belief in yourself.

Instead, learn from what happened.

How? By asking yourself these questions:

  • What went wrong?
  • What were the first signs that things weren’t working out?
  • When could I have pulled back or paused to try to fix what was happening?
  • Was there a point where I should have cut my losses?
  • Was there anyone I could have turned to for help or advice?
  • What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

Ponder each question, one at a time, starting from the top of the list. As you work through the questions, don’t obsess about every detail. Focus on the bigger picture and on the major details. Write everything down so you have a record that you can consult in the future if need be.

When you reach the last question, don’t fall into the contingency mindset. Think of a maximum of three ways to prevent what happened from happening in the future.

When you try something new and things start to unravel, think back to the analysis you did. What you came up with might not apply to all situations or to everything that you’re doing, but you’ll have a framework that can help you over the rough patches.

The key to this working is, obviously, your willingness to learn from your mistakes. To not repeat them.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!