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The Threat of Second Guessing

Posted by Mark Fallon on Mar 19, 2019 5:01:00 AM

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“True understanding comes from reflecting on your own experience. You are your own best teacher.” - Warren Bennis

Buyer’s remorse. Monday morning quarterbacking. Second-guessing.

Whatever you call it, we’ve all been guilty of wondering “what should I have done differently?” Especially when our plans don’t turn out as we expected. And if we aren’t careful, dwelling on our missteps can prevent us from succeeding in the present. And the future.

Reflection after something goes wrong is a good idea. We should analyze our mistakes, and determine how to prevent them from recurring. A good process is to write down what occurred, and what we were thinking as we made key decisions. In light of the actual outcome, we can uncover flaws in our methods and ensure that we don’t repeat our mistakes.

After our review, it’s time to start moving forward. We can’t change the past, but through a positive attitude, strategic planning and purposeful actions, we can create our future. We can determine “what happens next”.

The initial step to overcome the situation is to adjust our attitude. But changing our attitude is the most difficult step. We’re disappointed in ourselves. We’re upset about the situation. We’re unsure about how to face the challenges ahead.

Preparing for those challenges begins with the decision to be optimistic. To believe that you have the opportunity to be successful, in spite of previous setbacks. To believe that you have the strength, knowledge and talent to triumph in the face of adversity. To believe in yourself.

Hard work is required for anything worthwhile. But you’ll need to persevere through setbacks and minor failures along the way. You’ll need more than strength, knowledge and talent. You’ll need spirit and positivity. Powered by an optimistic attitude, you can start the hard work that will help you reach your goal.

The best way to direct that hard work is to have a plan to execute. We need to break down the larger goal into smaller goals. We have to create roadmaps that show us the steps that will transform a vision into reality.

To increase effectiveness, try and schedule the hardest and most tedious activities first. Which helps in two ways. First, it ensures we don’t get into a cycle of procrastination and a small task becomes a major problem. Second, it starts the path forward with a feeling of accomplishment.

As we execute the plan, we may stumble and make more mistakes. Or we may encounter something unexpected. So, do we just give up? No. We concentrate on the fundamentals. The basics of planning include flexibility. Prepare for alternative tactics towards a problem. Leave room for adjustments as events unfold. Remain open to different reactions.

Consistent, purposeful actions in the right environment will produce positive results. The challenges rest with being consistent and having a purpose in the right environment.

Some will argue that we have no control of the world around us, but can only control how we react to what happens. That may be true in a universal sense, as we can’t control the weather, the economy or world politics. But we can control our personal environments, our immediate world.

Consider the following:

  • What we read (in print or on the Internet)
  • Who’s in our professional and social networks
  • What we watch on television
  • What we listen to on the radio
  • What we eat
  • How many hours we sleep

These activities are the foundation of the environment in which we live. Change just one of these behaviors, and we’ve changed our condition. And perhaps created an opportunity for success.

Wisdom is attained through the experiences that come from our decisions. Positive and negative experiences that either support our decisions, or disprove our ideas. Each experience is a chance to apply our knowledge.

There are many sources of knowledge available to us today. Yet the best source of wisdom comes from taking action, and learning from the results. This continuous cycle of action – learning – action – is the path to success.

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