Today’s Tip: Look at your challenges as opportunities to grow rather than signs of failure.
When things get challenging it can be really easy to automatically think that it’s a sign something can’t be done, that it’s not ‘meant to be.’
Maybe it’s an eating habit you’re working on forming, maybe it’s an unhelpful behavior rearing its ugly head. Maybe it’s life circumstances, interfering ONCE AGAIN with your best laid plans. Maybe it’s a skill you’re working on that’s just, well, not working like you’d like it to. Maybe it’s a challenging personality somewhere in your life.
When these things happen, it’s so easy to want to just throw in the towel and call it good. “At least I tried,” we can say…although that one is too often followed by an internal “See, I knew it wouldn’t work” or “I know I just can’t (fill in the blank), I’m not (strong, smart, disciplined, etc.) enough.”
Here’s the thing: what if we look at those challenges as opportunities for us to learn and grow (however hard and uncomfortable they might be for us), rather than a sign that we’ve failed? What happens then?
I’ve gotten to revisit this one personally, more than a few times over the last 2 years in particular. There have been plenty of brick walls thrown up, personally and professionally, and there were plenty of times I just plain wanted to quit–usually those moments were accompanied by a “I’m just not good at ______.”
Except…except I found that I COULD be better at those things, IF I gave myself permission to totally f— up from time to time, and then learn from those mistakes. I could be better if I got over needing to be perfect, right out of the gate, or accomplished in a set amount of time.
This was totally reinforced by recently reading “Mindset: The Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck. It’s her belief, based on years of tests and studies, that we are capable of greater things IF we adopt a ‘growth mindset’ over a ‘fixed mindset.’
In a growth mindset, we are capable–and really, open to, change. We then see our frustrations as opportunities to learn and improve, rather than setbacks or signs of failure.
So when I really started to forgive myself for being imperfect, and accepted that I was human, like everyone else, *gasp* and had relative strengths and weaknesses THAT COULD BE CHANGED, my world expanded.
Here’s just a simple example: Yesterday, the conditioning portion of my workout included Double Unders (jump roping) in every other interval. In other words, in order to finish the workout, I had to complete 8 different intervals of 15 Double Unders to finish a timed workout. In a large group of people.
Have I mentioned I can barely string 3 in a row together??
It was frustrating. So frustrating.
It had the potential to be demoralizing–I finished dead freaking last, by 2 minutes, out of a group of 25 people.
I was so tempted to say, “I’m bad at these, I hate these, I suck” at different moments, but then had that gorgeous moment of clarity–I wasn’t good at them in that moment, but I COULD be.
Just like all those other skills I’ve worked on over the years–personal, athletic, professional–I could, with time and effort, improve.
Just that little flip of the mindset switch allowed me to see my (potentially demoralizing) performance as one step on the path to greater athleticism, rather than a sign that I was uncoordinated, or less worthy than or not as strong as all the other individuals there.
What a huge difference a little mindset shift can make!
–> In the one case, we’ve failed or proven ourselves failures, or less worthy.
–> In the other case, we’ve simply learned a lesson–one of many–that will add to our eventual success AS LONG AS we stay positive, open and persistent.
So if there’s something that’s got you down, frustrated, or feeling like throwing in the towel, I suggest you try looking at it through another lens.
Try looking at it as another opportunity to grow and stretch in your abilities; to see it as one more way you can become a fuller and greater version of yourself.
Is that challenge a brick wall set there to stop you, or a test to see how you get around/over/through it to accomplish even more?
Whatever it is, it’s what you choose it to be.