On our journey to become better human beings, we often look for ways to make ourselves more productive and successful. We seek out the latest tools to help us be more productive, we make massive to-do lists of all the things we’re going to accomplish, and we try to mold ourselves into these mistake-free machines.

Here at Lifehack I’ve read countless amazing articles that focus on boosting productivity, jump starting motivation, and life organization skills. So, instead of giving you another article that focuses on things you’ve probably already read, I want to talk about the one thing that all of us have in common, that can hinder our productivity, and one simple trick that can keep us on track to succeed.

What is this one thing we all have in common that can keep us from achieving our goals? We screw up!

That’s right. We’re human. There’s not a single person on the planet that is exempt from this law of mediocrity. From great people of history like Thomas Edison, to your local coffee shop Barista, we all make mistakes now and then.

Successful People Screw Up Too

It’s well-known that Thomas Edison screwed up thousands of times while trying to invent the light bulb. Aside from learning what didn’t work, he didn’t focus on his failures. He kept right on focusing on his goal of producing the world’s first light bulb. He was quoted saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And, as we all know, he went on to succeed and achieved his goal.

Another great example is Arlene Dickinson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. She’s an extremely wealthy Canadian business woman who has said that her main goal in life was to have a happy family. She screwed up by having an affair, losing custody of her kids, and going through a nasty divorce. But, she didn’t let this mistake stop her.  She fought back and went on to become one of Canada’s most respected business women, got her kids back and is now happily engaged. She has been quoted saying that her rebound to success was due to, “…giving myself permission to make mistakes and learning to look for the potential in a situation rather than focusing on the problems.”

Forgive Yourself and Focus on Your Goal

How does this help us? As driven individuals, we have to understand that we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to miss deadlines. We’re going to cheat on our diets. On our path to achieving our goals, there will be times when we fall flat on our face.

Luckily, there is one thing we can do to keep this law of humanity from holding us back, and that is to forgive ourselves.

People who strive to be more and push themselves to their limits are almost always their own worst critic. A failure to the “perfection oriented” doesn’t need additional attention because, by our very nature, we’ll beat ourselves up ten times more than any outside source ever will. It’s this self-imposed abuse for failing that can sabotage even the most promising achievers.

When we stop and focus on our mistakes, aside from figuring out what went wrong, we’re really not doing ourselves any favors.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say we’ve been working on a promotion at work for 6 months. We’ve been going the extra mile, staying late, and simply doing everything we can to reach our goal of promotion. The promotion has been our sole focus for months.

Then, one day, for whatever reason, we screw up and miss a deadline on one of our projects.

Suddenly, we feel like we’ve just completely blown our chances at promotion. We say to ourselves, “Wow, there goes that idea! I’m such a screw up!” and our focus switches from “I’m going to bust my ass to get this promotion” to “I’ve screwed up. I’ll never get this promotion.”

This change in mindset and focus to “I’ll never get this promotion” will cause that belief to become a reality. If we’re thinking, “I’ll never get this promotion.” then that’s exactly what our actions will reflect. We’ll stop staying late, we’ll stop working as hard, and we’ll probably mess up even more.

The key to handling this type of hurdle is found in self-forgiveness. Figure out why we screwed up, learn from it, then get right back to focusing on the goal.

Do not focus on the failure! Forgive yourself and focus on the goal!

This is how the successful make things happen and overcome screw-ups.

The greatest men and woman in the history of the world have screwed up at one point or another. But, they don’t focus on the failures, they stay focused on the goals and solutions.

The ones who succeed and produce results are the ones who are able to forgive themselves, fully and truly, and get back to focusing on their goals.

So, the next time you make a mistake, just remember: We’re all human. We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle our setbacks that truly define us as achievers and determine how successful we’ll be.
(Photo credit: Young Man Facepalm via Shutterstock)

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