I’m Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits.
According to a growing body of clinical research, mistakes enrich learning if you adopt a positive mindset about your mistakes. If given the opportunity to learn from them, mistakes can even feel good to make, according to an MRI study published in Nature Communications. Best of all, there are practical steps you can take to turn your errors into opportunities.
1. Recognize that you can improve
People who understand that intelligence and skills are malleable, rather than fixed, are more likely to persevere. Your performance improves with practice and effort.
2. Accept your imperfections
Anxiety can interfere with your ability to do your best. Assure yourself that it’s ok to make some mistakes. For example, maybe you excel at managing logistics but need to go slower when you attempt financial analysis.
3. Hold yourself accountable
At the same time, you’ll benefit from taking responsibility for your actions. Analyze situations with the view of what you can do better instead of worrying about external conditions beyond your control.
4. Set realistic goals
Ensure your expectations are reasonable. Progress often comes gradually. If you keep your first knitting project simple, you’ll be able to see the stitches are lining up instead of wasting hours on a sweater you’ll have to take apart.
5. Limit your mistakes
It’s easier to learn from your 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 practice.
6. Engage in positive self-talk
If you’ve been conditioned to feel uncomfortable about errors, give yourself a pep talk. Remember, past experiences where your effort paid off. Give yourself credit for striving to do your best.
7. See the humor in your mistakes
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.
8. Give praise strategically
Whether you’re talking with yourself or with your children, praise effort rather than intelligence. It encourages you to focus on improving rather than trying to prove you are smart.
9. Seek advice from others
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 more experienced running buddy may be able to show you how to avoid recurring injuries by changing your gate.
10. Appreciate the value of a sincere apology
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 heal and move on with their lives.
With this being said, here are some specific exercises for learning from mistakes:
Take on a tough challenge
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 in a local attraction.
Make educated guesses
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 what you know in order to improve your recall. When you are 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. By focusing on getting better at any task, you’ll stay motivated, experience less anxiety, and learn more.
Want to know how you can develop a more healthy mindset to combat challenges while building your practice? Check out our blog here.
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I’m Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits. Follow me on social media @DrHassanRehab.