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The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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