7 ways to Turn Difficult Moments into Helpful Learnings

No one is immune to experiencing difficult moments within their professional life. From CEOs, to managers, to interns and everyone in between, all working people are likely to encounter obstacles at various stages of their career. Whether it’s a particularly tricky project, navigating a change in role and responsibilities, or managing a conflict with a colleague, difficult moments can challenge our professional and personal growth in many ways. But the good news is that these moments don’t have to be totally negative experiences. Difficult moments can offer us the opportunity to learn, and ultimately, benefit our work and overall wellbeing.

Here are seven top tips on how you can turn difficult moments into helpful learnings…

1. Take a Step Back

It can be easy to get wrapped up in difficult moments, but it’s important to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. Ask yourself why the moment or situation is difficult. Is it because you’re feeling overwhelmed, or because the situation is out of your control? Sometimes, the pressure we put on ourselves can get the better of us, turning mole hills into mountains. Taking a step back to assess the situation can help you gain clarity on the issue, find a renewed perspective, and develop a plan of action.

2. Take Accountability

Just as no one is immune to experiencing challenges, no one is immune to making mistakes. Not only is this okay, but it’s expected – you’re only human after all! Often, taking accountability for your own actions and behaviour is the fastest route to growth and resolve. Whether you could have made a better decision, missed an important detail, dropped a proverbial ball, or are experiencing conflict with a colleague, sticking your hand up and admitting to mistakes or owning your part in the conflict is a brave and powerful thing to do. It shows character, humility, and a willingness to learn – all of which are admirable and constructive traits both in and out of the workplace.   

3. Learn from Your Mistakes

When things don’t go according to plan, it’s important to take the time to reflect on what went wrong and what you could have done differently. Analysing mistakes can help you identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for avoiding similar problems in the future.

4. Seek Support and Advice

When faced with a challenge, it can sometimes be helpful to seek advice from someone who has experience or knowledge in the area. This could be a manager, a mentor, a colleague, or even a professional coach. Talking through the situation can help you gain a different perspective, build confidence, and develop a plan of action.

5. Don’t Take it Personally

Difficult moments within your career, whether they last a few hours, weeks or months, can be emotionally draining, but try to remember that the situation is not a reflection of you as a person. Instead, try to remind yourself that there are likely many factors at play and that being unfairly hard on yourself (or others) won’t make matters any better. Try to focus on the task at hand and think about ways to move forward.

6. Look for Solutions

The challenges you face in the workplace are opportunities to think of creative solutions. Instead of getting stuck in the details, try to look for ways to simplify the process or find an alternative approach. While the challenges you come up against can be frustrating and stressful, they can also be opportunities to make significant improvements.

7. Stay Positive

Encountering difficulties can be discouraging but try to stay positive. Remind yourself that work is only one aspect of your life, and that obstacles, challenges and mistakes don’t define you or your career – rather, they are part of the process of growth. It’s also important to remind yourself of your successes thus far and remember that even the most challenging days can be turned into useful learnings for the future.