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Why You Should Celebrate Your Failures

Why You Should Celebrate Your Failures
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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.

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How can you develop more resilience and perseverance than you currently have? Here’s a step-by-step guide that may help you:

Step One

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.

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Step Two

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.

Step Three

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.

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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!

Step Four

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.

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Step Five

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!”

Step Six

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.

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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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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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