What Successful People Know About Making Mistakes

Licensed Social Worker By Amita Patel, LMSW
Licensed Social Worker
Amita Patel, LMSW, is the owner and founder of AlignedHolistics.com, a coaching services company that empowers individuals to achieve their goals and make them stick. She received master's degrees from New York University in both philanthropy and fundraising, and clinical and medical social work. Her unique, no-nonsense, holistic approach combines nutrition, physical activity, relationships, career, and personal philosophy. Patel has been featured on CBS, NBC, and the Huffington Post.

Whether it’s exercising more, controlling our road rage, or not bingeing on Reese’s Pieces before a meal (yes, that last one just happened), we all slip up when we’re trying to change.

And although we are too hard on ourselves and we do need to learn to forgive ourselves when we falter, that’s not the point. Mistakes shouldn't just be forgiven — they should be celebrated. Here’s why:

1. Any goal worth achieving is going to be hard.

If it’s not, you obviously aren’t challenging yourself. When you hit a wall and persevere, you learn to troubleshoot, tolerate discomfort, and/or ask for help. And we all could stand to improve those skills. Take a risk. Think big. Yes, you’re more likely to fail. But not trying makes that a certainty.

2. Failures are opportunities to hone your strategy.

Some people give up at the first challenge; others rethink their tactics. No amount of planning makes you infallible. If you aren’t willing to be flexible and reassess, dust yourself off, and try again, you’ll never get better.

3. How you do anything is how you do everything.

If your mistake is that you didn’t budget enough time for a task, chances are that’s an issue you face in other areas, too. Addressing it in one area will help you make better choices across the board.

4. Perseverance builds confidence.

Every time you give up, you reaffirm the belief that you can’t do something. If you believe you’re a quitter, you will use that to rationalize quitting. Instead, consciously choose a mantra more likely to get the results you want. Try something like, “Maybe I’ve quit in the past, but this time I’m going to stick it out.” Then, act like you really believe it. (Meaning, don’t quit.)

Choosing to view every mistake as an opportunity to reexamine yourself, your system, and your choices will have a powerful effect on every area of your life.

For a little extra help, download Amita’s free goal-setting worksheet.

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