Trying and failing at something is no fun. We feel upset, disappointed, and sometimes even angry. The problem with this reaction to failure is that it shuts us down and makes us not want to try anymore, and that’s what leads to true failure: a lack of further attempts. On the other hand, if we can learn to celebrate our failures as steps toward eventual success, we will continue to put in effort, keep trying, and eventually achieve the results we want. We’re talking about resilience and perseverance here.
Current research shows that these qualities have been linked to a greater degree of lifelong success; people who exhibit resilience and perseverance are more likely to graduate from high school and college, more likely to find and keep a good job, and more likely to report higher degrees of happiness overall.
How can you develop more resilience and perseverance than you currently have? Here’s a step-by-step guide that may help you:
The first step is to recognize that resilience and perseverance are qualities you’d like to develop further. Acknowledging a desire to change is the first step toward transformation.
Be aware of what your current reaction to “failure” is. Do you freak out? Do you throw things? Yell? Do you engage in negative self-talk like telling yourself you’re no good, or that you’ll never be able to do something? This is great information to have so that you can create a plan that will eliminate your negative behaviors and replace them with a more resilient outlook.
Decide how you’d like to react instead. For instance, you can decide that the next time you fail to make it to a meeting on time, you’ll choose to breathe, relax, and acknowledge your lateness, rather than being overly apologetic and berating yourself internally. Or, if you’ve failed to do something you said you’d do, you can simply apologize and re-commit.
Some people find it easier to make a change when they’re held accountable by a friend, coach, or mentor, and often, implementing a consequence can help you overcome a stubborn bad habit. A friend of mine agreed to put $50 in the office party fund every time he was late to a meeting—he wasn’t late often after that!
Decide on a set of inspiring quotes or mantras that you can employ if you’re unable to stop the negative behavior. These might be statements like, “If I keep at it long enough, I’m bound to succeed.” Or “The more effort it takes, the more I will learn along the way.” The key here is that these mantras are actually exciting and inspiring to you. Keep them in your pocket, phone or somewhere you can access them any time, and refer to them whenever you’re feeling shut down by failure.
Don’t forget to give yourself some props when you make progress. Personal growth can become tedious if we forget to notice our progress. So instead of constantly reaching for the next accomplishment, try celebrating your successes. “Wow! I usually break something when I get that upset, but this time, I only thought about breaking something!”
Lastly, learn to see the silver lining behind every “failure.” Challenges make us work harder, learn more, become stronger, and stretch our capacities—that’s all really great stuff! When we can experience a bump in the road and actually celebrate it, we know we’re on track to doing great things.
I mean, think about it; do you think Michael Jordan could have achieved what he has without celebrating his failures? No way! Jordan sees every failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Now I know you want to be a superstar at your life. So, start celebrating your successes AND your failures and go out there and change the world!
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