Learning from experience - good and bad
Sometimes things in life go well. Sometimes they don’t go so well - we have bad experiences, come across problems or things just don’t go right for us because of a bit of bad luck.
At the heart of bouncing back is the skill of learning from the things that happen to us - whether they are good things or bad things. Every experience has something to teach us if we take time to notice the lessons. This kind of learning comes from making the time to think about why things go right and why things go wrong - sometimes it’s called ‘reflection’.
This how to guide is here to give you some ideas on how to do this kind of learning.
Make time for learning from experience
When something goes really right, or really wrong, that’s a good time to make space for learning. Planning for reflection time is a great way to do this. Here are some ideas:
If you’re using a journal, maybe you could plan it into your journal writing routine?
Spend time at the start or end of each day reflecting on your day’s highs and lows.
Have a regular get together with a supportive friend or mentor to talk about what you’ve learned from good and bad experiences.
Make your move
Ask the right questions
Learning from experience is about seeing patterns and lessons in what happens to us. It can be hard to do this - lots of adults never manage to do it and get stuck making the same mistakes over and over!
Using a tool like the Mirror for my mind activity can really help. If you don’t have access to this here are some simple questions to ask yourself:
- What were you trying to do?
- What happened?
- What went well?
- What could have gone better?
- What shall I keep doing?
- What shall I change?
Do your reflection at the right time
Reflection can be really helpful when we ask ourselves these questions at the right time:
At the start of trying something new think about similar experiences in the past.
When we’re trying to make a move into a habit - think about what you’ve learned so far.
Use it any time you flag or get stuck - looking at what’s getting in the way can help with a new, better plan.
Use it when you achieve your goals and need new ones - recognise your learning and successes and rev yourself up for the next stage!
Write what you learn into your new plans
As you spend time understanding why you succeed or why you get stuck, you will learn things that will make your future plans much more likely to succeed.
Remember: ‘fail’ is just short for ‘first attempt in learning’. Life’s challenges have just as much, if not more, to teach us as the successes. So keep going.