Redefine failures and mistakes as lessons to get more chances for success
We’ve all been there — reliving a mistake that feels like the end of the world.
But what if we could make it and feel ok afterward? Not happy or dismissive, just ok to tackle the problem with a clear head.
What if we could treat failures and mistakes as steps forward?
We grow up thinking we must avoid mistakes like fire. That instills fear of failure in every step we take. Most of us are paralyzed by fear and never take action to realize our dreams.
Now, imagine a world where a slip is not a defeat but a pause. A moment to regroup, learn, and pivot toward new possibilities for solving the problem.
What if failure isn’t the opposite of success but a part of it? What if the real loss is never trying, never daring to get what you want?
In this article, you’ll discover how to transform your perspective on mistakes. It’s not about dismissing failure and justifying it but about leveraging it as a powerful tool for growth. You can use lessons from your mistakes to manifest your dream into reality. But most importantly, you can limit the fear and anxiety from life’s challenges.
Benefits of Learning from Mistakes
Before making a change, it’s natural to ask, “What’s in it for me?”.
In this section, we’ll explore how redefining mistakes as lessons rather than setbacks equips you with powerful personal and professional growth tools. We’ll delve into how this approach:
- enhances resilience
- encourages experimentation
- aligns with the realities of life
- conserves your energy for more productive endeavors
- helps you progress one step at a time
By the end, you’ll see how embracing and learning from your mistakes can be one of the most effective strategies for creating a fulfilling and successful life.
Let’s uncover these transformative benefits and learn how to turn every misstep into a stepping stone toward your goals.
Enhanced resilience and frequent experimentation
A lighter perception of failure allows for quicker recovery
Conversely, the more you fear failing, the heavier the burden. When you learn from failures, they look less scary. Because you get insight into the problem even from failure. So, failure is no longer the end.
As a result, you experiment more.
The more you experiment, the greater your chances of discovering successful strategies tailored to your needs. Implementing advice is crucial to validate their effectiveness. For example, you won’t realize the benefits of a gratitude journal until you experience keeping one. Testing out ideas bridges the gap between knowing and acting based on the knowledge.
Embracing failure as a stepping stone enables you to endure more challenges and persistently pursue your goals.
Accepting inevitable mistakes
Mistakes are a natural part of life.
We’re often taught to avoid them at all costs, fearing their impact. Yet, this avoidance gives mistakes their power — the power to stop us from trying.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a universal human experience. Acknowledging this liberates us from the pursuit of unrealistic perfection. In the end, we all navigate the same uncertain future. Our predictions will sometimes be off, similar to how we might stumble over an unforeseen curb. There is no need to stop walking because you tripped. You can continue being more aware of the curbs.
Next time you trip over life’s unexpected curbs, remember it’s a common human experience. It’s not a defeat but a natural part of life’s journey. It offers valuable lessons to refine your path forward.
Conserving energy for constructive actions
Thinking of mistakes as losses can make you feel stuck.
It’s like trying to stop the rain-pointless. Complaining about it doesn’t help either. It just makes you feel bad.
Both mistakes and rain are inevitable. Instead of wasting energy worrying about them, try to find a solution. If it’s raining, you can grab an umbrella, stay inside, or let yourself get wet. When you resist and complain, you get frustrated. But it still rains, and you still make mistakes.
Treat a mistake as a learning moment. It’s a chance to improve and develop better strategies for the future. That way, you get unstuck because you redirect the energy to deal with the problem and not waste it on whining about it.
Learn and grow one step at a time
Think of mistakes as stepping stones to success.
Instead of seeing mistakes as losses, view them as essential steps in your learning journey. Each mistake is an opportunity to grow and move forward.
Imagine you’re building an app. The road to success is not a straight line. Mistakes will happen. You can’t avoid all problems, but you can solve them step by step. When something doesn’t work as intended, you don’t give up.
- Propose a solution.
- Check if it does the job.
- If not, discuss it with the client.
- Try again with new knowledge In short, you piece together solutions bit by bit, documenting each step for future use.
This is how you grow.
Remember, learning any skill often means trying multiple times. Every effort, including mistakes, lays the foundation for success. The goal isn’t to get it right on the first try. The goal is to gain experience.
Embrace the challenges life presents. Learn from them. No one knows how much better you can become. Try finding your limit.
Confront your problems early
Embracing mistakes allows you to face challenges sooner, preventing minor issues from becoming major problems.
Remember when you ignored a small problem, only to get smacked by it later. It could be a leaky faucet you didn’t fix right away. At first, it was just a drip, but one day, it turned your bathroom into a pool. The water flooded your neighbors below, and the cost was gigantic. Only because you were afraid to touch something you didn’t know or call a plumber to do it for you.
The alternative story would be to start working on the problem immediately. Instead of ignoring the tiny leak, you approach it head-on. Quickly, you find out the names of every element needed to make the water flow. You turn off the water valve and remove the faucet. There it is, a rubber seal that went bad. You end up paying 1$ to solve the issue. But you just learned a lot about water installation in your flat.
You saved water, money and annoyed neighbors. Good.
By confronting the problem sooner, you prevent further complications. It’s easier to change the seal than to cover the water damage.
Remember, confronting problems quickly prevents them from growing into crises. Act early, learn, and grow.
The Traps to Avoid
But treating mistakes as lessons is more challenging than it sounds.
Learning from mistakes is great, but sometimes, we can get them wrong. What if we think we’re learning from our mistakes, but actually, we’re not? What if we go too far in justifying the mistakes?
This part is about mistakes in learning from mistakes. It’s like when you’re learning to ride a bike. Sometimes, you might think you’re doing it right, but you keep falling. We need to find out how to ride without falling off. But in a much more abstract thing, that does not always give us clear feedback.
We’ll learn how to stay on the right track and avoid falling into these traps. Let’s improve our skill of riding a mistake bike.
Awareness of the mistake is not enough
It’s not enough to know you made a mistake. Sometimes, we make the same mistake even when we know it’s wrong.
Think about smoking. Everyone knows it’s bad for health, but still, many people smoke. Why? They think it won’t hurt them. They don’t relate smoking to problems they face daily, like losing breath after using the stairs. They focus on the pleasure of nicotine hit. How do I know all that?
I was there.
For years I knew smoking kills, but I didn’t understand that. I stopped only after feeling what it did to me. But that came not from knowing, but from integrating that knowledge. I thought that smoking kills, but I never thought smoking kills me.
It’s one thing to know about a mistake and another to understand why you keep doing it. The important part is figuring out how to stop.
To really learn from mistakes, you need more than just know them. You have to adjust your actions to stop making the same mistake in the future.
Sometimes, people excuse their mistakes to do nothing.
They say everyone makes mistakes.
It’s true that everyone does. But that’s not a reason to keep making them. Imagine someone apologizing for not showing up only to do the same next time. That’s not learning or being sorry, that’s manipulation.
Be careful not to use “everyone makes mistakes” as an excuse for inaction.
Mistakes happen to everyone, but that’s not an excuse to do nothing It’s a reason to learn from what went wrong to avoid making the mistakes by taking the better action. Unless you want to stay miserable for the rest of your life.
To grow and stop losing your life, you must stop making excuses for your mistakes and learn from them.
Avoiding the responsibility
When we make mistakes, they often affect other people too.
It’s not enough to learn a lesson from our mistakes. We also need to take responsibility for what we’ve done. For example, if you break your mother’s favorite vase, it’s not enough to realize you should be more careful. You should, but you also need to own up to it. Ask your mother what you can do to repair the damage (The mother’s attachment to the vase is another story, but for now, assume it’s justified).
If you don’t take responsibility, you say it’s not your fault. Instead of taking the blame, you play a victim. But that helps no one. And you hurt yourself the most. Beacuse one day you’ll wake up to life that is not yours. You’ll want to get out, unable to take action, convinced it’s not your fault you ended up here.
Owning your mistakes is a big part of growing up and learning. It’s about saying, “Yes, I did this, and I’m sorry.” and trying to make things right. It’s about learning from mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Because when you’re responsible, you can find ways to make life better.
Practical Way to Learn from Mistakes
A lot is written about treating mistakes as lessons, but little about how to start.
How do you learn from your mistakes and still feel responsible for them.
Write down your reflections in your journal, or record them.
To treat life as an experiment, you must document it. Ask yourself:
- What was the goal of the experiment?
- What did you do to accomplish the goal?
- If you didn’t accomplish the goal, why?
- What can you improve in the next try?
Introduce changes you came up with, and try again.
My online writing adventure is a series of mistakes. Sometimes, I actively use the previously gathered knowledge, and sometimes, I don’t. But with more tries coming I eventually get to the point where I have to rethink my approach. Having all my failures written down is an excellent reminder of the necessity to introduce changes to my actions.
You see, I started writing because I wanted to be like Martin Eden, a hero of Jack London’s book with the same title.
My dream was to be wise and to share wisdom. But I came to Medium, and saw everyone was selling. I got convinced I had to sell because I wouldn’t attract people. It happens that I hate being sold to. And most of what I read was written with selling in mind. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
That was a mistake for me.
Everything I did was to gain followers. I wanted recognition and fame. I wanted money. So I diverged from my dream and became just another writer without personal touch. Here is what matters: my true motivation will always come up in my creation. I can feel when I read something written only to earn money. You can feel it, too.
It took me three years to realize. Still, I didn’t lose. Because I always tried again. But to try again in the face of failure you need to understand that failure is not final.
All of the above I could understand thanks to my journaling practice. It heightens the awareness of what I do and facilitates learning from my mistakes. As long as I have all my problems in my head, I can’t deal with them efficiently. Even ten problems seem like an infinite list, because my mind never stops going in circles.
But writing them down breaks the loop.
Your Path to Growth and Success
Mistakes are a natural part of life. The good news is most mistakes can be fixed.
Accepting that someday you’ll fail is liberating. The distance from mistakes allows you to learn from making them instead of suffering from them. You don’t lose when you fail. Because losing is about ceasing efforts to correct mistakes, not making them. Don’t get me wrong, when you fail, you lose, but not a war, just a battle. As long as you stand up, you can still succeed. You can correct mistakes, and try again.
The best part of treating mistakes as lessons is having all the power of this trick by thinking through your actions and learning from the outcomes. If you fail, write down why and how you can improve. The potential is yours to explore.
That’s how you make your life an experiment. An experiment in getting what you want.
Have fun, and check out my free journaling course.