The setbacks we have experienced in the past don’t have to hold us back in the New Year. The mindset we cultivate for the coming year is what will determine our success. Our past failures and the discouragement resulting from those experiences don’t have to hold us back.
This past year I have had a few setbacks in my university and have been feeling discouraged because of that. But then I realized something. The failures I had this past year don’t define what will happen in the coming year. My mindset does.
So how do we cultivate the right mindset for success in the coming year?
1. Have the right focus
When reflecting about the past, we should focus on all the successes we have had. And probably, they far outweigh the failures. Of course there will be struggles along the way. But think of all the successes you have already had and let those encourage you!
For example, I thought to myself that I am all into languages and creativity and therefore I am just not cut out to do mathematics. And while it’s true that I am definitely not talented at mathematics, I did pass a lot of higher-level mathematics subjects in the past. With enough studying I have gotten A’s for mathematics and was able to do calculus and various university-level statistics. I definitely have passed much more mathematics subjects than I have failed. And listing those successes is definitely encouraging.
What successes have you had in the area you are struggling in right now?
2. Speak the truth to yourself
We need to be sensitive to the things we say to ourselves. Are they actually true and objective or are they just a reflection of the discouragement we feel at the moment?
Lie: “This is hopeless. I can’t do it.”
Truth. “With enough effort/ motivation/time/help from others I can do it. There is hope.”
Lie: “I am a failure. I’ll never succeed in this.”
Truth: “My failures don’t define me. I can succeed in this. I just need to find a different strategy.”
3. Connect with your why
Why is it important that you succeed in this? Not why it is important that you succeed for your parents or for your friends. Why is it important for you?
You need to really know your why. Because that’s what will give you the motivation to keep going when times get hard.
For example for me, I want to graduate from my university so that I can have options in the future. I know that I want to continue blogging and doing creative things pretty much for the rest of my life. But I also know that I want to get some work experience too. And I also know that now at age 22 I still have no idea what I’ll end up doing 10 or 20 years from now!
Therefore my motivation for graduating from my university is having the options later in life. I don’t know how my life will turn out. But I trust that God has me at the university for a reason. And that it somehow will turn out for my good. But what really motivates me in the day-to-day is just the desire to pass those exams and graduate. And be set-free with lots of options for my future!
What is your motivation? Why is it important for you?
4. Keep in mind:
God will often place us in difficult circumstances that are way outside our comfort zone in order to grow us.
I think God is using my university to help me to be more persevering. This is the first time in my life I am actually faced with failure. I was an excellent student in high school! And so I think God is using those failures now to humble me and to also help me put my identity in Him and rely more on Him than on my own abilities.
I also think that having gone through failures I can now be more empathetic to those who are struggling too. If I didn’t struggle at my university I wouldn’t be writing this article.
In what ways do you think God is growing you in the struggles you are facing?
5. Trust that God has a better perspective
Truth is we don’t know the future, but God does. Only looking back at the past will we be able to connect the dots and see how what we are going through right now is all part of His plan for our lives.
Let me give you an example. When I started my university, I wasn’t certain I made the right choice about my economics major. But I just went with it for a while. Some time later my husband, James, found me on Instagram. And my Instagram profile really caught his attention because I was studying economics as well as him. And that’s how we met.
Now we are married and have a cat. All of this wouldn’t have happened had I not persevered in studying economics. Now, looking back, I know why God had me study economics. Even if it was just for the purpose of meeting my husband – it was definitely worth it!
One last tip:
Start taking baby steps. If you have experienced failure in the past, take some small steps towards success. Succeed in those small things and be encouraged for attempting the bigger harder things.
Gaining momentum is sometimes all we need to keep going.