Part of learning and living life is to make mistakes and experience failures. I love the perspective I get from this quote by Henry Ford, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” If we keep trying, gain understanding and insight about ourselves and what we’re trying to achieve, then failing simply propels us toward something better.
6 Keys to Move Past Failure to Happiness and Success
1. Don’t personalize your mistake and make it a character trait. You are not stupid, dumb, careless, or worthless. Maybe you did something that was stupid but that doesn’t make you stupid. We tend to exaggerate our failures and negative beliefs about ourselves, especially after failing at something. Try to remember this does not determine your future or who you are, it’s just a blip in your life.
2. When you make a mistake, recognize it and own it. If this is a mistake that gets repeated and something you want to change, try to evaluate what you might do to change it. If it’s a job interview gone bad, maybe you could look for some job interview training; if you got your 3rd speeding ticket in a year, maybe it’s time to set cruise control when you are on long stretches of highway and take note of your speed better; if you find yourself easily losing your temper, maybe you are overly tired and need to get more sleep and take better care of yourself.
3. Take the time to process the mistake or failure, to grieve and heal. When caught in a moment of anxiety or grief, try to de-stress using deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. This article about 14 ways to de-stress when angry has many tips that work for de-stressing in many circumstances. Let yourself feel how you feel. Crying it out can be very effective, as well as talking it out with a trusted friend or loved one. Don’t ignore your hurt feelings or try to stuff them down, they are sure to appear later and may hurt somebody else if they cause an angry outburst.
4. Use your failure as a springboard to new and better things. Sometimes talents become uncovered and new hobbies or things you enjoy become discovered after you have failed at something. Keep trying new things. You never know what happiness lies around the corner. Don’t let your inner critic decide what you are going to do with your life. Your inner critic finds things to be afraid of and reasons to give up. Push past the fear and worries and do it anyway.
5. Forgive easily and often. Be someone that easily forgives others. Cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself too. If you said or did something that hurt others, apologize. You can’t really move on without making amends. Forgiving others gives you peace and relieves anxiety. Read about more ideas on how to forgive and why forgiveness is so important for your peace of mind in this article, “Feeling Peace, Finding Forgiveness“.
6. Remember you are not alone in failure and making mistakes. It’s easy to look at others successes and think they’ve had it easy or have always done everything right, but we don’t see what’s gone on in their private lives or what hard work they’ve put in to get where they are. Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper editor and told “he lacked imagination and good ideas”. He went through a few other business failures, even filing for bankruptcy before opening Disneyland and starting the Disney empire. Albert Einstein didn’t talk until he was 4 and couldn’t read until he was 7. Isaac Newton never did very well in school and failed at being in charge of his family farm, but when his uncle sent him off to Cambridge, his undiscovered talents and incredible abilities blossomed.
Kevin Hinckley, BYU 2015 Education Week