An unequivocal part of being human is making mistakes. We try things and fail. When standing at a fork in the road, we sometimes take the wrong path. We act when we should wait, and wait when we should act. However, failing is not synonymous with failure. Mistakes and wrong turns are the reasons that there are erasers on pencils and a ‘reverse’ gear on every car’s transmission. Miscalculations, blunders and slips are an undeniable and unavoidable part of the human condition. No matter how big the error or how ‘off track’ one might go, there is always an opportunity to pause, reassess, and start again.
There is nothing that says that fresh starts are reserved for the beginning of a calendar year. However, it does seem to be the time of year when many are inclined to consider changing course. Resolutions abound. Some folks start diets and begin exercise programs. Some companies change policies. The idea is to stop doing things the “wrong” way and do things a “better” way. Just as errors are part of being human, so is the desire to start anew. Here are four tips on how to wipe the slate clean.
To start fresh, one should dare to change and step out of one’s comfort zone. If what is going in the wrong direction is a career, consider a career change. Be willing not only to change jobs, but perhaps change careers or industries, or even start a business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person stays with an employer for 4.6 years, while Millennials average just 1.3 years on a job. Generation Z (those born after 1993) are expected to embrace change even more than previous generations. Generation Z is predicted to be more mobile and less tied to place than any previous generation. While 80% of Millennials expect to work abroad during the course of their careers, chances are high that the percentage is even greater for the members of Gen Z. So why not consider a radical career change?
If the need to start fresh is related to a business process or program, dare to consider what would happen if the process or program were completely changed… or eliminated altogether. Things are that working fine shouldn’t be changed, but processes that continually cause problems should be reevaluated or even dumped. Take a chance and go in the opposite direction. Reject the status quo and conventional wisdom, and go against the grain. Dare to be an unconventional company, willing to take risks and break the rules. Just as many online software platforms are in constant beta testing, so too should companies today. Embrace a “beta testing mentality” as a way of constantly changing, evolving, trying new things, learning lessons–and succeeding. Therein may lie the fresh start that is needed.
Keep an Open Mind
Be nimble, flexible, and keep an open mind at the start each day. Open mindedness is key to new opportunities. Instead of rushing through each day, pressured and stressed, consider what kind of day to have. Take a moment to stop, breathe and think of a positive intention for how to BE that day. That way, when opportunities arise, there will be a greater likelihood of recognizing it as such and pursuing it.
Be Willing to Fail
Too many people see failure as a referendum or indictment of them. Failure is seen as an indication of not being good enough. But that’s the wrong way to see it. Failure is actually a roadmap to success… of what not to do next time. From minor slip-ups to epic fails, everyone is sure to falter at some time in life. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t isn’t that they don’t fail… it’s that those who succeed have a certain amount of blindness to the risk and therefore are willing to keep trying even after things go wrong.
In fact, instead of being something to be ashamed of, failure should be seen as a badge of honor. It shows a willingness to push the envelope. Certainly that is just how it is perceived by those of Gen X and Gen Y whose startups have failed. It is just another step on the path toward that business that will succeed. Consider that while still in high school, Bill Gates and pal Paul Allen (his Microsoft cofounder) launched Traf-O-Data, a traffic counter, which they marketed to local governments. Unfortunately, the business went bust when the state of Washington started offering counters to cities for free. If Bill Gates – one of the richest self-made billionaires in the world – can fail, get up and try again, so can anyone else. Setbacks, coupled with perseverance, can indeed morph into success. Each fresh start presents the opportunity to achieve and succeed.
Dare to be Different
Once upon a time, it was seen as radical and subversive to be ‘different.’ To a certain extent, there is always some pressure to fit in with society and the market. But too often, there is a desire to fit in because there is a false belief that fitting in means moving forward. However, the company or business that embraces its differences benefits by standing out. In a world where similar businesses all look and sound the same, it pays to differentiate. A business should identify what makes the company unique and then concentrate on that. Focus on becoming more of what it is.
It does not have to be January 1st to start fresh. Every day is a new day and an opportunity for a fresh start to learn, grow, develop strengths, heal from past regrets or hurts, and move forward wiser. Every day offers a chance to reinvent, redefine, and fine-tune oneself, and build on the lessons of what has already been learned. It is never too late to switch gears, instead of doing the same-old, same-old and hoping for a different outcome.
Quote of the Week
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” L.M. Montgomery
© 2015, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.