Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Thinking About Failures In A Time Efficient Way

The end of the year is here, meaning I'm thinking about recapitulating. Yeah, I'll be explaining what that is later this month. What I will say now is that when people look back at what they've been doing with their time, they're not always going to be pleased. Is being miserable about what happened in the past the best use of time in the present?

You don't have to be very Zenny to know the answer to that is "no."

While on vacation in September, I came upon How to Fail Up (called 5 Steps to Cope with Failure on-line) in a back issue of Yoga Journal. (I mention the date because I want credit for having held on to this thing for three months.) It describes steps to take to make the best use of failure. Remember, failure can bring you closer to success because it narrows the number of things to try. What you don't want to do is just take the attitude that you failed, and it's over.

If you were unsuccessful with a goal, the Yoga Journal suggestions you might want to consider:

  • "Sit with the misery." Or, to put it another way, wait. “We don’t make our best decisions when we are reactive,” says Ashley Good, founder and CEO of Fail Forward, a Canadian company that helps people and organizations learn to “fail up.” You want to start getting over your disappointment before you decide what to do next. Personally, I like to get past it and pumped up (delusional?) again before I do anything.
  • "Decouple your ego from your action." It's not you, it's what you did. Or didn't do. Focus on action and not what's wrong with you. 
  • "...crystalize what you've learned and...formulate your next plan of action."  Focusing on the failure, itself, and not the failer means you really ought to do something about that failed action. The YJ article has a couple of steps at this point involving talking to others about your failure that I was going to blow-off because they were a little touchy feely for my taste, dealing with making people feel better about themselves instead of what they could be doing for that failed project.  However, for writers whose failed goals involve rejected submissions, talking with others about the failure can have a big part in formulating that next plan of action.
    • Did the agents/editors provide any feedback for their decision to pass on your submission? Beyond, you know, this isn't right for me? If so, consider how many of their comments could be valid and what changes you can make to address their issues. Consider this even if the agent didn't show any interest in seeing your project again. The next agent you submit to can have the benefit of the first agent's assessment.
    • If you're in a writers' group, address the issue at a meeting. What could you do differently? If you have feedback from agents/editors, discuss with your group colleagues what these people could possibly be talking about and whether or not it's worth taking their comments seriously. 
  • "Take risks." I would put this another way. "Try again." But try again after you've done some assessment and, possibly, correction.
Taking some time now to assess this year's goal failures will help you plan goals for next year.

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