The road to success is often difficult, fraught with missteps and unforeseen challenges.
It’s rare for a person to travel straight from start to success in whatever they are undertaking, whether it be building on a career or attaining some personal development goals.
The road gets a bit trickier if you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over, because you are essentially losing time while spinning your wheels looking for traction.
How can we avoid that? How can we stop making the same mistakes again and again? Let’s look at a fairly simple, direct strategy that anyone can put into practice.
1. Forgive yourself for making the mistake.
The relationship that people have with failure is not an accurate reflection of what failure actually means. The reality is that most endeavors in the world fail, and they fail for an infinite number of reasons.
Sometimes the timing of the endeavor is off, sometimes an idea is not marketed or promoted well, sometimes a person lacks the skills or necessary resources to find success, and sometimes people just give up before they ever really get going.
Failure is not a bad word. Failure simply means you tried something and it didn’t work out. Yes, the consequences of a failure can be harsh and sometimes life changing, but you still need to forgive yourself for your failures.
People are imperfect. Mistakes happen. Failures happen. They are a part of the lives of every single person on this world.
It’s what you do about those failures that matters. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Try again.
2. Identify the mistake that is being made.
The key to solving any problem is to understand what the problem is in the first place.
I like to take some time to think about a mistake I’ve made or a recent failure and write it at the top of a piece of paper.
I need to form a concrete idea of what the mistake was that I made and articulate it, because that will allow me to work backwards from the mistake to see how I got there.
3. Identify what a successful resolution will look like.
The next step I take is to identify what a successful resolution will look like.
On my sheet of paper, I write out what I feel would quantify as a successful resolution. What is it that you’re working toward? What is it that you want? What is your goal? What are you aiming to achieve?
Write that down, but understand that success may not look exactly as you envision, so you don’t want to get too wrapped up in the idea of what this success will be.
Things may change. You may eventually find that your standards for success were off because of a lack of knowledge or experience about the thing.
You may also find that your efforts take you to a place that you really like and enjoy, but isn’t necessarily what you envisioned. It’s okay to shift your goal when you get new, relevant information.
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4. Trace the route of your decision making that brought you to the mistake.
At this point, it is time to reverse-engineer the route that brought you to your mistake. You do this by asking questions. Questions such as:
- What bad decisions did I make from the time I started pursuing that success to when it finally came apart?
- What good decisions did I make that I can incorporate in future attempts?
- Did I lack knowledge? Information? Experience? Perspective?
- Was my goal to narrow? Too broad?
- Is there a point where I could have made different decisions that would have brought me to the resolution I was looking for?
- What role did I play in this mistake?
- What external factors negatively impacted my pursuit of this goal?
- How could I have lessened the impact of the pitfalls and shortcomings that I experienced?
5. Research other methods for attaining the successful resolution that you’re looking for.
The great thing about the advance of technology is that we now have the internet to dig into for additional information.
Take some time to look for quality information on your goal and the processes involved in attaining that goal. This will give you a greater pool of knowledge to draw from in trying to plan out your new course of action.
Additional perspective will also help you determine if your goal is reasonable and attainable. You may find that it needs to be reevaluated or that you need to shoot for a smaller goal on your much larger path.
6. Develop a strategy and course of action to reach your successful resolution.
It’s time to develop a strategy. What elements are going to bring you to a successful resolution? What pitfalls do you need to avoid? What steps do you need to take, starting from the very first, to what you’d consider your success?
Map these steps out on your sheet of paper as a step-by-step course of action. Consider this a first draft of your strategy.
What you will find as you reach each step is that it may not look exactly as you anticipated. You will likely run into unpredictable problems or setbacks that you need to navigate and overcome.
Use the same problem solving approach that is presented in Step 5 if you are having a difficult time – research, research, research!
7. Be willing to try again with your new and different strategy.
The most important step of pursuing success is to be willing to accept failure and try again. Your new plan might not work out. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Depending on what you’re doing, you may need to change your strategy and try again.
The upside is that you gain a fair amount of experience as you work through this process. The downside, of course, is that no one likes to feel like they are failing or not making due progress.
The only real strategy is to grin and bear it, keep pushing forward, adjust your strategy, but don’t lose your goal in the process. You can overcome and succeed!
In Regard To Counseling…
There are times where a person may be making the same mistakes for reasons that are out of their control.
Life is hard and painful for many, and surviving it can create unhealthy coping mechanisms that serve the person well to endure whatever negative situations they are going through, but are toxic and destructive in healthier situations.
If you are having a hard time mentally or emotionally, it is a worthwhile investment to talk to a certified counselor about the situation, because they may be able to help you overcome those hurdles by helping you address the root causes of those mistakes.
It’s not unusual for people with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues to make the same mistakes over and over. Unwell thought processes can really mess with our ability to reason, accurately judge situations, and follow through on our plans.
A certified counselor may be able to point you to strategies and paths that other people who have faced similar changes have used to attain their success, if you find that you’re not able to do it on your own.