10/23/2013 06:11 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2013

Learning From Failure -- How to Transition From Being Less of a Perfectionist to More of an Optimalist

Once we master the lesson of learning from failure, we can persevere and come back stronger, more tolerant and disciplined, more successful, more flexible, more willing to take risks and be open-minded, and happier as a result of these experiences! So how exactly do we get to this place? First, it's important to understand the difference between a Perfectionist and an Optimalist, so you can adjust your strategy in life to get more out of it and embrace life's lessons.

As described by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., author of The Pursuit of Perfect, How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life, a Perfectionist is one who tends to focus on the outcome with goals that may be overly ambitious and unobtainable, is afraid of failure, less of a risk taker, assumes an all-or-nothing approach or sees experiences as success or failure. While the Optimalist focuses on the journey and the outcome, accepts failure and sees it as feedback, takes risks and steps outside his/her comfort zone, and most importantly can find value or a lesson and satisfaction in less than perfect performance.

Five Ways to Embrace Life's Lessons and Become More Optimalist!

1-Step outside your comfort zone to learn and develop as an individual on many levels.
2-Take a risk for once in your life and try a different approach or a new activity.
3-Recognize what the experience has to offer and what lessons you can take away from it.
4-Engage others in the process while you are working on a new goal or activity to encourage and motivate you.
5-Create healthy competition with yourself by using perceived failure to motivate you to higher level.

Trust the process of learning from failure by embracing the unknown, the journey and the challenges along the way. Lessons you learn in school, relationships, or career, can transfer into other areas of your life and even bring a new enriched perspective you never even had!

Forget the shame that comes with failure -- you are human and everyone fails at something. Occasionally, we may fail many times in the same area before improving and getting back on track. Confession: I've made many mistakes and failed many times in my life, and I'm even a recovering Perfectionist! I'm still learning every day. Believe it or not, I've become more relaxed about certain things being good enough and not perfect. This is all part of the journey, and it's not just the end result that matters.

By incorporating and making it a regular practice of approaching life in a more Optimalist way, we will learn to become more compassionate with ourselves and others. Finally, we will also recognize that failure and mistakes are part of life and we can and will move past them in a positive and more enlightened way. Tal Ben-Shahar shows us this by taking the approach to reject the all-or-nothing thinking of the Perfectionist, and instead embrace the mind-set of an Optimalist, that we can learn to accept our failures along with our successes and lead much happier lives!

Learning from Failure Exercise

Think about a time when you failed or made a mistake.
- What did you learn from that experience?
- How are you different as a person because of that experience?

Would love to hear about one of your lessons learned and insight gained! So be sure to share your thoughts below in the comments and/or on the C&R Self blog! If you feel inspired by this article, then like it, share it, and/or comment below.

Originally posted May 2012 on Courageous & Remarkable Self blog

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For more by Sarina Tomel, click here.

Sarina is currently working on her first book, Courageous & Remarkable Self, A Practice for Stepping into Your Greatness!

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