According to a growing body of clinical research, mistakes can enrich learning if you adopt a positive mindset about them.
Best of all, there are practical steps you can take to turn your mistakes into vital learning opportunities.
People who understand that intelligence and skills are malleable rather than fixed are more likely to persevere.
Your performance improves with practice and effort.
Anxiety can interfere with your ability to do your best. Assure yourself that it’s okay to make some mistakes.
For example, maybe you excel at managing logistics but need to go slower when you attempt financial analysis.
At the same time, you’ll benefit from taking responsibility for your actions. Analyze situations with a view as to what you can improve instead of worrying about things beyond your control.
Ensure your expectations are reasonable. Progress often comes gradually.
If you keep your first knitting project simple, you’ll be able to see that the stitches are lining up instead of wasting hours on a sweater you’ll have to take apart.
It’s easier to learn from mistakes if your health or life savings are not at stake. For instance, hold onto your day job while you research ideas for starting a business.
If you’ve been conditioned to feel uncomfortable about errors, give yourself a pep talk.
Remember past experiences where your efforts paid off. Give yourself credit for striving to do your best.
Humor is another powerful antidote. Laughing at setbacks will reduce stress and help you recover faster.
You can have a good time eating spaghetti if you forget to defrost your first Thanksgiving turkey.
Whether you’re talking with yourself or with your others (colleagues, peers, other leaders), praise effort rather than intelligence. It encourages you to focus on improving rather than trying to prove you’re smart.
If you’re starting to see a pattern in your mistakes, it may help to get some outside assistance and feedback.
For example, a personal trainer or a more experienced running buddy may be able to show you how to avoid recurring injuries by changing your gait.
The most painful mistakes we make are often those that affect other people.
The willingness to offer a heartfelt apology and make appropriate restitution helps both parties to heal and move on with their lives.
Venturing into new areas gives us more opportunities to learn. Stretch beyond your usual boundaries. If your day job is in accounting, volunteer as a tour guide at a local attraction.
Studies show that students acquire more knowledge and retain it longer when they guess at the answers before looking them up. Brainstorm how you would approach a home repair job before consulting a guidebook.
It also helps to test yourself on what you know in order to improve your recall.
When you’re learning a new language, drill yourself on vocabulary and grammar. Pick out the questions you get wrong so you can study and test yourself again.
We all make mistakes, so seize the opportunity to make them work for you.sBy focusing on getting better at any task, you’ll stay motivated, experience less anxiety and learn more.