For any type A personality, it is very hard not to beat yourself up for even the smallest errors or failures.
Sometimes I think it’s something we are programmed with, or at least implanted into our brains since we are little. We live in a society where failure is not an option. Well, maybe that’s a little too harsh.
But remember high school? When you had lower grades or failed to deliver a project, everyone around you was disappointed.
We grew up with those eyes watching every move we made.
Though as adults we left them behind, we interiorized the feeling. Now you beat yourself up for every little mistake you make in your job.
Let me tell you that’s not healthy.
Trust me, I am a champion at beating myself up. I used to beat myself up for every email where I didn’t explain myself well enough (in my head at least), for every misstep I made in the projects I was running, and for every conversation I had, that didn’t develop quite such as I wanted to.
Bottom line, I had a reason to beat myself up for everything.
It’s okay to self-critique. In healthy doses, it’s even recommended. It keeps you grounded in the present.
However, when you switch from a healthy self-critique dose to analyzing every action and conversation you've had, that’s a problem. You lose sight of all your big accomplishments and small victories, and you start focusing on only what you did wrong.
Newsflash: Nobody is perfect, and perfectionism is boring. You don’t want to be boring, do you?
Moving from beating yourself up for every mistake to welcoming them and value them as learning steps takes practice. It’s a process you have to do every day, over and over again.
Let’s look at what you can do on a daily basis to avoid and stop altogether beating yourself up for every little mistake.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others. I know, we live in a very competitive world, where we want to be the best of the best, and play at our highest all the time. Well, it’s not possible. You’re human. Making mistakes is normal. When you compare yourself to others you lose your authenticity.
It’s okay to aim high, it’s okay to want more for yourself. It’s okay to be motivated by others’ success, but you have to find your own path. You have to define your own success and work towards it. You are special and unique just the way you are. Use that to your advantage.
2. Learn from your mistakes. Though they not might seem so in the beginning, mistakes are a blessing in disguise. When you make a mistake, you have a tremendous opportunity to learn from it. You know now that is not the way for you to go. You have the chance to take a step back, analyze and plan your next move.
Don’t discard mistakes as something you shouldn’t have done. If I wouldn’t have made mistakes in my career, I wouldn’t be where I am today, doing what I love, working with people I love and respect enormously on a personal and professional level.
Gini Dietrich wrote a powerful article about why seemingly smart people have fear of failure. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, focus instead of learning from them as much as possible.
Be patient. We want everything to happen yesterday. We want to get that promotion faster, gain that client earlier or get that fat paycheck two weeks ago.
Let me tell you a secret: Not happening.
There is a learning curve we all have to go through. You can’t get that promotion if you are not prepared for it. You won’t get that client if you don’t take time to learn more about him, to connect with him, to build a relationship with him. And no, you won’t receive that fat paycheck if you don’t prove you are worthy of it, work for it beyond expectations.
I am not saying you have to kill yourself working, I am saying you have to be smart about the choices you make in your career, from the projects you work on to the mistakes you make.
Way too often we set our eyes on the goal and forget that the journey is as valuable and wonderful as the destination.
Corina Manea is a PR professional and social media strategist, currently living in Madrid, Spain. Founder of NutsPR, client service manager for Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks, she is passionate about creating great experiences for clients. Connect with her on Twitter.