Although December is generally a very busy month for the majority of us, it is also a great time to step away from the holiday parties, shopping, and buffet table to reflect on everything—the good, bad, and ugly—about the past year. Unfortunately, we often avoid reflecting on the bad and the ugly because, quite frankly, it stings and reminds us of things we’d rather forget.
In a 2018 blog profile, one of my interviewees stated that when she was considering opening her own business, she decided to study businesses that failed. When asked why, she added that she felt it was important to learn why businesses closed their doors, not just why they succeeded. Today her business is thriving because she took the time to face her fears, explore all options, and learn.
Failures are equally as important as successes in teaching life lessons.
Although we’d rather not think or talk about our failures in life, it is valuable to our personal growth to ask ourselves questions at the end of each year that prompt self-reflection and provide an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, what we want, and how we can move forward and transform a negative experience into a positive one.
For example, on September 20, 2018, the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets for their first win since December 24, 2016. In less than two years, they managed to turn a series of heartbreaking losses into an unyielding determination to prove their critics wrong.
Lessons extracted from failures can be transformed into positive energy
that fuels the achievement of future goals.
In job interviews, hiring manager sometimes ask candidates to discuss a time when they failed. It can be an agonizing moment in the interview for candidates. After all, we are trained in life to focus only on our successes. But the hiring manager has a reason behind the question. He/she wants to know if you are willing to take risks and, more importantly, if you are willing to learn from your mistakes.
Failure provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes.
So when thinking about what you have achieved and not achieved in the last year, it is important to ask yourself a well-rounded set of questions that not only explore your wins and losses, but also help you find a direction forward:
What have I accomplished this year that I am most proud of?
What have I done that I wish I could take back?
What is the one constructive criticism I would like to work on and why?
Who in my life is holding me back from pursuing my dreams?
What is the one thing I wish I could have achieved this year that I didn’t?
How committed am I to learning from my mistakes? (Very, not so much, not at all)
How willing am I to take a risk in the next year? (Very, not so much, not at all)
What does failure mean to me?
What does success mean to me?
Once you have formulated and reviewed your answers to all of these questions, take some time to reflect. If you failed, why? Were you committed to your goals? Did someone stand in your way (or did you stand in your own way)? What are three lessons you learned from each failure?
Reflecting on an entire year can be enlightening in many ways. Although it is scary at first, it is an important step in growing as a person, stepping outside your comfort zone, and learning lessons that you can carry forward into the future to better yourself and the world around you.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.