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When Something Doesn’t Work, See an Opportunity Instead of Failure



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Things in life don’t always work out the way that you want them to. Sometimes it’s small snags or setbacks. In other cases disaster can strike – such as the COVID pandemic – and can put you into a state of feeling trapped, lost, and scared. While any level of failure or problems we run into will sting, it’s important for you to seek opportunity during those moments and times. This is something that I constantly do by reminding myself:

When something doesn’t work, I choose to see this as an opportunity rather than failure.

Here is how you can rewire your brain to create the breakthroughs that you need to overcome these failures.

An Opportunity For A Fresh Start

One of the marvels of our society is that we continue to develop at faster and faster paces. Even during times where it feels like we’re not going very far, there are many opportunities for us to do things. Things that once were mere thoughts have now been our reality. Time and again, people have broken boundaries and stereotypes alike. The amazing thing about all this is that this has nothing to do with our age or education. All that you have to do is hone your skills and abilities to accept new challenges.

Using The Full Life Framework

The Full Life Framework is what I teach students at the Lifehack Academy to turn their limitations into opportunities. I went from constantly working that put me in a physically compromising position to becoming someone who can strike a balance between work, time with my wife and kids, and being in better physical shape.

You may not be looking for the exact same thing that I am, but this framework can be applied in any aspect of your life. Here is how it’s done.

1. Find THE Opportunity

When a problem presents itself, it’s easy for all of our attention to be focused on that. Rewire your thinking by doing these:

  • Gain new perspectives – Before you can accept new challenges, it’s important to shift your current limitations. Because limitations are what define your current life, you can change your life by changing how you see these limitations. By shaping how you look at things, you can see small actions that could change how you approach problems. Small shifts in self-esteem, confidence, or motivation can make a big difference. 
  • Identify your challenges – These are new paths that you need to face in order to walk down a new path. There are many ways to achieve the same thing in this world. For example, when I suffered from poor posture I could either take up stretches or I could’ve gone to the gym and did strength building amongst many other things. The key is to be aware of what options you have available to you.

Instead of looking at the problem, find ways that can change the situation as you begin to start fresh.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. Plan Your Progress

If you know your values and priorities in life, you’ll have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. For example, when I first started dating my wife, my goal was to make her happy. Once we got married and had kids, my goals shifted to her happiness and being there for my kids. Even though I devoted more time to financially supporting them by working hard, I thought at the time it was for the best. 

Put your values and priorities on paper. Once you know your opportunity, it’s a matter of setting long-term goals with smaller short-term goals that you can work on from month to month.

3. Invest And Prioritize

Next, ensure that you’re putting your time and energy into the plans and goals that’ll shape your new reality. Focus on what you do each moment and make it all count. Creating deadlines can also ensure you know what to prioritize.

4. Use Motivation And Good Habits

Even with all of this progress, it won’t work unless you have good motivational sources and positive habits. Things like goal setting, daily reflections, perseverance, amongst others are key. Also, having clear and personal reasons for doing something creates a solid foundation to start a habit. 

For example, I suffered from severe back pain because of poor posture for years. I’ve greatly improved my back pain (and my posture) by stretching my back and exercising every day to strengthen my back muscles. How I got to doing these exercises was out of my desire to keep up with my kids and be involved in their upbringing.

Even if things don’t go as you originally planned it doesn’t mean it’s over. I believe that there is no specific way for us to be completely stuck in our lives. There is always something that you can do to change.

With this strategy, I encourage you to not let your life pass you by or to give up when problems present themselves. We are capable of great things if we set our minds to it.

Having been listed as Business Week's #4 "Top 24 Young Asian Entrepreneurs," Leon Ho is the Founder and CEO of Lifehack - a productivity blog he started in 2005. He has grown Lifehack into one of the most read self-improvement websites in the world - with over 12 million monthly readers. Grab his latest book The Full Life Essential Guide here.

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