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From Mistake to Marvel

From Mistake to Marvel

November is the month we celebrate thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation. Lately, in my neck of the late autumn woods, we’ve been talking story about mistakes, and how we should appreciate them.

What? Be thankful for mistakes?

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Absolutely. Let’s really think about this with an open mind.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t stretching enough, learning enough, or embracing the catalytic converter action sequences that your mistakes can help you get comfortable with.

You’ve made a mistake. Did others miss that you made it, or did they knowingly allow it to happen, and have it be okay? When you are in a safe environment in which first-time mistakes are welcomed as the germinating seeds they are, and they do happen frequently as part of the evolutionary process of the work culture you are in (work, family, club or otherwise), you are fortunate indeed: You are in an atmosphere of trust and trustworthiness.

Think of your first-time mistakes to be petri dishes of the future breakthroughs that they potentially can be. Think of them as right-reason idea-experiments gone awry. Think of them as those times you don’t have to know all the answers yet, because you knowingly want to push the envelope in testing the variables. Think of them as a short-term way to test a better long-term decision.

Enlist others to help so the worth of the idea you’ve tested isn’t lost, and enlarge your connectivity with others. Let’s say you’re stuck, so you ask for help. You have to articulate your vision for others, and be willing to lead with the insights of your experience with this thus far. You have to be open-minded, and willing to let others enlist in your mission and make significant contributions, understanding that if they are to help you make this happen, it must be a win-win for everyone concerned. Way more learning and growth is involved here than just about the mistake itself!

Let’s say you fail at your efforts the second time around. The way I look at it, you’ve made the concept of “failure” an evolution of sorts, for we’re no longer talking about a mistake, are we. We are talking about the intent to succeed with a potentially rich idea. We are taking about your purposefully creating your future instead of being satisfied with circumstance and happenstance. Now how cool is that?

Admittedly, there are good mistakes (they help us learn as we live) and bad mistakes (the careless or chronic ones that plague the thoughtless or irresponsible). We each need the awareness that every mistake we make can potentially go down either road. Give yourself a break, and don’t beat up on yourself when you have a misstep. Take the path on which your mistakes are only good, and they become the marvels they can be.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be back next Thursday. On every other day, you can visit me on Talking Story, or on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha!

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Rosa Say, author of
Managing with Aloha
, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

Article references/ Related writings:
This article was exclusively rewritten for the readers of Lifehack.org today. The following reference articles were written for managers, urging them to create a safe environment in which learning from mistakes can flourish:
Article 1: Mistakes are Cool
Article 2: Let’s Talk Story about GOOD Mistakes

Previous Thursday Column:
Make Mine Personal.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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