Experiencing a failure at work can be hard to move on from, especially if it feels like there may be more failures than success stories in your work day. Adapting and learning how to cope with mistakes at work is one of the most important skills you can have while cultivating your career.
What to Take Away From Failures
Knowing what to look for when you feel like you are repeating the same mistakes is simply noticing patterns. Take the time to view yourself from outside your situation and your feelings. What bad habits might lead you to continue making mistakes and what kind of a plan can you come up with to make a positive change?
One of the patterns I noticed post-quarantine was causing me to submit mistake after mistake after mistake. For some reason, I felt this pressure to finish my projects as soon as physically possible. I wasn’t taking the time to look over my work. After I slowed down and started really looking at the things I was doing, the feeling of dread started to go away. I wasn’t afraid that I would be messing everything up when I was more invested in the project’s outcome. I was able to just take a deep breathe and do the work that I am good at.
What I’ve Learned
Being that this is my first real job after graduating from college, the number of mistakes and failures that I have had to embrace has started to feel like a lot. But with each mistake, I am learning not only how to be better at my job, but how to be a better person. I’m learning how to be a better coworker and employee. I am taking what I learn at work along home with me and applying certain lessons to all aspects of my life.
One of the things that took a while to sink in was that I will never be done learning. Even when I feel that I’ve finally gotten the swing of things, I should and will have to keep pushing forward to learn more. Once you know what you’re doing, try to learn a better way! Strive for efficiency and always, always, always double check your work. No one is perfect and if you’re feeling like you might have missed something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is your job to make sure your work is correct.
Making sure your work is done right is a great start, but more important than that is to avoid emulating others at work. Don’t be a walking comparison. Your work will suffer and you’ll just feel disappointed in yourself. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to those around you and take advice. It just means that it is perfectly o.k. to make your own system. Just make sure you have the backbone to reinforce it.
A perfect example of this is from when I first started at FriendsOffice. A lot of communication and requests were made to me verbally. Unfortunately for me, I have a horrible memory and I would find myself forgetting to work on things or leaving out elements from projects. Now I ask for my coworkers to email or send me a reminder of their request. This serves as a checklist for me.
Letting a failure stop you from succeeding doesn’t help anyone. Figure out what is wrong and make a plan to consciously correct behaviors that contribute to your errors. Letting yourself be upset instead of moving forward is a surefire way to let yourself down. Take pride in your work and work hard for the things you do.
Tips and Tricks for Doing Better
- Write Yourself Notes: This is a tip one that I use religiously! If I get even a twinge of fear that I’ll forget something, I write it down! Whenever I get constructive criticism or words of wisdom from my supervisor, I write it down! I find that it is better to have more information than less. So if you’re wondering if if you should record it, write it down!
- Absorb All Criticisms: Instead of taking things too personally, try to rewire the way you think. I am truly terrible at this. It’s hard putting all your time and energy into something just to find out you did it wrong. I like to archive or flag emails and screenshot any criticisms sent to me. Even if I’m not ready to deal with it in that second, I can come back to it with a clear head once I’ve cooled down. Also, criticism is simply constructive! At its core, it’s just an opinion. Take it in, then let it go.
Sometimes failure just happens. Whether or not you feel like it’s fair or like you deserved it, failure happens. Each person will have to learn to cope differently, but ultimately no one is free from the feelings that come with failing. One of my favorite quotes that I live by has come from a very unlikely place. One of Star Trek’s best captains, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, states, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness… that is life.” It may be nerdy and it may be from fiction, but the lesson is one that I will keep close to my heart forever.
Processing and learning from your mistakes is a great way to start caring for your career. For more tips and tricks like this, check out our blog post, “Caring For Your Career.”