You’ve just failed to achieve something that you have aspired for. Maybe it’s a test, or a job, or even love. You’re now at a juncture, with two paths for you to consider: Sit and moan about it, but do nothing to change or bounce back. The reason you are reading this itself indicates that you are part of the latter category.
Here are 10 simple ways to bounce back in life no matter the situation:
1. I can do it and I will
This is, beyond doubt, the first thing you need to tell yourself every single day. Maybe even the first thing every single morning. Waking up reinvigorated, reinforce yourself ,“It’s a brand new day. There is so much for me to do, and now is the time. I can neither change my past, nor my future, but I shall act today and shape my future.”
2. Chalk out your plan
For anything that you want to achieve, be it a skill, passing a test, getting a job, losing weight or learning to drive, you need a plan. Chalking out this plan is your next step. It has to be based on your goal. Talk to experts, refer to relevant resources and read books about the goals that you want to accomplish. Come up with a plan as per your timeline and goals, the resources that you possess, and most importantly, your strengths.
“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell
3. Modularise your goal
Breaking down a significant task into smaller chunks always helps. It fosters self-belief and keeps the next goal in sight. Keep up your plan for a week and then break it down further to a daily level. Let’s say your goal is running a 5K marathon in the next month. Then your plan could look something like this:
- 1st week – run 3 times a week.
- 2nd week – run every day with short water breaks after every 8 /10 minutes.
- 3rd week – Work on managing my breath.
- 4th week – Practice and more practice (there’s no substitute for dedication).
- D Day – Achieve what you’ve worked so hard for!
4. Keep track of your goal
The biggest mistake you could make is to think you have time. Before you realize it, all your time is gone. Unfortunately, time is the one resource we cannot conserve. Procrastination is addictive, and you will get better at it with each day that passes. Your backlog of tasks will keep growing each day, and to such an extent that one day, it seems unachievable and you have to abandon it. Bhagavad Geeta (an ancient scripture on how to live life) says – “your soul is your greatest friend as well as your biggest enemy. The real doer is your mind. Make it a habit to work to finish your target for the day. This becomes the base of building your confidence and belief in self.”
Reward yourself for sticking to your plan and achieving progress day by day. Getting yourself on the track is easier than keeping yourself there. Check your progress on a periodic basis. You may not be exactly where you planned yourself to be but, as long as you are within 10% of your planned progress, you’re good. Rewarding yourself for the progress made gives you the confidence and assurance to say, “I have made it till here and I have been consistent in my progress. I will make it.”
6. Be that deaf frog
Many of you would have heard about the story of the frog which climbed to the treetop while most of the other frogs kept shouting that it was impossible to reach the tree top. The reason it was able to reach the top was that it was deaf. So it couldn’t listen to all the negative comments, it was only focused on reaching its goal.
This applies to anyone, keeping one’s mind clean and positive is very important. If you keep listening to what people around you say and seek their approval, then you will never be able to progress. Our mind uses the sense organs to receive information and process it.
What we see, hear and whom we choose to be around is a major contributor to our thoughts. Hence, observing who you spend time with, is very important to keep you on your path. It’s always good to have friends whose company keeps you motivated.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
7. Avoid distractions, keep your eyes set on the goal
The formula for success in this age is the ability to focus and cut down on distractions, since all of us are force fed information every minute via social media and all the other channels. However, the authenticity and relevance of all this information are a huge question mark. All the media have very catchy or sensational titles to grab your attention.
This reduces our attention and memory span hugely. Continuing from the previous point, what you take inside determines your thoughts. Keep a watch on how you are spending your extra time. Keeping one limited on social media and Whatsapp is essential for success. Better not to be there at all, but the next best option is to limit yourself.
The question then arises, how else do I relax? Go for a walk, talk to your friends, or even go play outdoors. Do something that gives you happiness. You may feel left out, not knowing what’s happening in the world outside during the initial days, but there is nothing worth knowing that appears exclusively on social media. Eventually, you will get to know what’s important to you.
8. Don’t compare yourself to others
Your life is yours and you can never swap it with anyone else. Remember, the best of resources may not necessarily bring the best results, it’s the ones with the best attitude, and motivated minds that come up with the best results. You are the master of your life and no one else can make it better other than you.
9. Work on your weaknesses don’t run away from them
Everyone is unique and has their own set of strengths. Some may know how to portray their strengths in a better way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any strengths. See what you are good at and leverage on that. Work on your weak areas with more dedication to improve it. Running away from the problem will only make it bigger, and it is better to confront it and deal with it once and for all.
10. Reflect on where you started and how far have you come
Finally, reflect on where you started and how far you have come. It’s amazing to see what hurdles you have crossed to get where you are today. It’s by your determination and dedicated effort you have come here, and it doesn’t happen by luck or accident. Waiting for things to happen hasn’t brought you here, your efforts have. Ultimately, you will achieve your goal and your dream will become a positive reality. There is no better day than today to start your journey. Stay happy and positive, that’s a great vitamin for your mind.
How do you best recover from failure? Comment below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?
When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?
Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.
Let’s park this one for now and we will come back.
Categorization is essential to our survival
There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses.
The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.
An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting!
Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.
- lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.
Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored.
This amazing skill has its drawbacks
As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.
Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)
Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.
Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.
The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people?
We can overcome unconscious bias
Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals.
Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms.
Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals.
What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!
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