4 Reasons to Cut Yourself Some Slack Following a Financial Setback


So, you fell off your financial wagon. It's particularly easy to do this time of year, though financial mistakes aren't necessarily seasonal.

It's easy to beat yourself up over these things, even if you understand why your mistake happened. But what purpose does that serve? Does making yourself feel bad about a mistake actually make it less likely to happen again, or help you fix it?

Whether you messed up because you are stressed, going through a difficult time personally, or wanted to give your kids an extra-special Christmas, stop berating yourself. Still prone to indulging your shame and guilt? Here are some good reasons to let it go.

Failure Almost Always Precedes Success

While true overnight success does occasionally happen, it's often more fluke than anything else. True success — even when it looks like it comes quickly — usually happens after many rounds of failure. In fact, ultimate success may be more about perseverance than it is about talent.

Even well-known people, like Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan, faced setbacks and failures before they became successful. So, rather than being frustrated with yourself, see yourself as normal. Then, when you're ready, get up and try again and again and again until you find a way to meet your goals.

Failure Helps You Become Resilient

Being resilient means that life can knock you down, but you always get back up stronger than before. It means surviving and thriving in a world that often doesn't give you what you need or want. Some people seem to have this characteristic in spades, but the rest of us have to develop it.

Failure is one way to become more resilient. As you weather failures, you learn how to deal with them and with yourself. You will learn how to let life's disappointments wash over you, and then how to step out again once they're done.

If you've failed financially, whether your fall was spectacular or quiet, remember that each failure makes you a little more resilient, and then determine to get yourself back on your feet, no matter what.

Failure Invites Creativity

When we fail, it means that the solution we used to try to solve whatever problem stands before us didn't work, and so we have to figure something else out and try again. When we do this, we are exercising our creative muscles, because we are coming up with multiple ways to solve the same problem.

Look at your financial failure as the problem to be solved. Whether you want to save more, spend less, pay off a debt faster, or something else, failure means that the plan you're currently using is not one that is working for you. So take a deep breath and start brainstorming. Think of other ways to achieve your goals, even if they seem a little crazy right now.

Once you have a list of ideas, pick one to try next. For instance, if you struggle to save an emergency fund, consider using an app that saves for you automatically. If you want to spend less on drinks after work, come up with alternate activities to try with your coworkers. Most problems have a solution; you just have to find the one that works best for you.

Failure Teaches Us

If nothing else, failure often teaches us. Not only does it show us what does not work to solve a problem, but it also teaches us about ourselves. Failure can show us our limitations, it can reveal our resiliency, and it can tell us a lot regarding how we feel about ourselves.

There is a lot of focus on learning from failure as part of the pathway to success and, while that can definitely be true, learning from failure can also redefine success. Let's say you want to save up enough money for a luxury car. You're diligent about putting away what you can, until Christmas comes around. Then, you see all sorts of awesome gifts you want to give to the people in your life. To buy them, you will have to dip into your savings… and you do it without a second thought.

Sure, you may feel like you failed. After all, you didn't reach your goal. And you may have learned that you need to make your savings less accessible, so you can't dip into them so easily. But you also may have learned that you care more about people than you do about cars, and so you may choose to redefine success from "saving enough for a luxury car" to "having plenty saved to buy luxurious Christmas gifts."

Whatever failure has to teach you, stop beating yourself up and learn it!

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