Make Your Mistakes: Why It Is So Important To Fail
Especially at the beginning of a new year, we swear to give up old habits, become more productive, get a job, or excel in school. But more than often, we don’t succeed as we planned to: we fail. Most people try to hide their failures, particularly since social media suggests that so many of us are able to live that “perfect life”. However, without failure, we will never grow to our full potential. Thus, it is time to embrace the positive features of making mistakes!
Learning is the result of making mistakes
In our ideal world, learning works as follows: Study something, memorize it, apply and master it. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Everything that we learn without making an effort is actually something we already know. For instance, in school, why do you want to go to a class if you easily ace the material? That will not bring you forward. Choose a class that challenges you, that forces you to make mistakes, and makes you review your attitudes, knowledge, and habits.
Most of us are reluctant to do so since we want to get good grades and fear we might not receive them if we make mistakes. But that’s actually not true. If you make your mistakes at the beginning of a class because you think through the materials and make up your mind, the correct solution will more easily stick to your mind. Instead of memorizing only the concept that was taught in class, you will also remember your initially incorrect thinking, which makes it easier for your mind to store the correct solution. This will make it so much easier to study and excel in exams and tests (especially if they are not announced in advance).
What feels now as a mistake might benefit you in the future
About one year ago, I applied for a job that seemed perfect for me: It fit my experiences, interests, and plans for the future. Plus, many of my friends told me that I would be perfect in that role, so that I was highly confident to rock the interview. Unfortunately, I failed. Badly. I did not even make it to the second round of interviews. I felt so devastated that I even got the flu afterwards.
Now, twelve months later, I am more than happy that I did not make it. Why that? Because I recognized that this mistake was good for me. It forced me to rethink the plans I had made. Were these plans really based on good intentions? I realized that they were not. I desired this job because I thought that I should do so. I would be seen as successful and ambitious, but I would have never been happy. That’s why I am so thankful that I failed: It made me reflect every one of my assumptions I had made for life.
Discover new opportunities arising from your failure
At the point where I realized that the job was actually a big failure (and not me), I invested all my energy into finding out what I really wanted. I asked myself: “Now that I was given this freedom, how should I use it best?” First of all, I decided that I would give myself time from recruiting and focus on my studies instead. This helped me to change my perspective on my goals and dreams because I did not force myself into it. Secondly, I did things that were entirely new to me. As I had noticed that failing was actually not such a bad thing, I became more daring to try out new stuff. I bought a camera, travelled by train through Europe, started my blog, and did not care about whether others would judge this as a mistake or not. I just did it. And that brought me so much positive energy, that new opportunities popped up (e.g., becoming a contributor at Rakbo *yeah*) that I only had to grab and go for.
So this year, as a New Year’s resolution, I chose this wonderful quote of Neil Gaiman:
I am excited to see where my mistakes will lead me.
And so should you!