Learning Through Experience

Failing out of Pharmacy School was an instructive personal learning experience. Everything I thought about the future was changed in one letter. One of the ways I try to improve upon myself is to think about what can we learn from experiences?

Unraveling the past

Events happen, whether they are under our control or not; yet we can learn from our own experiences, and by studying the past, and from the experiences of others as well.

We start by evaluating what happened in the past. Tracing back each outcome to a decision or action to find the root cause of the event.

From this, we can get a notion of what has worked before and adapted it what we want to accomplish today.

A helpful alternative to is looking at what actions didn’t work in the past. Maybe we can try to avoid these or similar mistakes, or at least change it to be less of a difficulty this time around.

This is easier said than done because we have to have a sense of honest detachment from our ego, to not take self-evaluations personally.

It’ll be a work in progress as most things in life are yet I think we can have more fulfilling lives.

Consequences of not learning

Our minds are set up to learn. We start learning from experience at a very young age. Babies cry and then they get attention, they learn to get attention this way until they can talk about what they want.

There are consequences of not learning from our mistakes or the mistakes of others. If we didn’t take advantage of our ability to learn from mistakes life would be very different.

Imagine not learning to look both ways before crossing the street. This would be catastrophic for the pedestrian and the driver. Yet, we learned from others that this is a smart thing to do.

I think the space race is a great example of learning from mistakes. We built and tested a lot of rockets and rocket designs before we sent a human into space.

Each failure was a step to learning what not to do.

This is the same concept North Korea used when building their rockets. Every failed rocket test we witnessed was a step closer to a successful launch.

We can apply these principles to our lives to help create the outcomes we want.

I would hear the saying that if you haven’t failed then you haven’t challenged yourself. I would think there was something to that saying; then I failed.

After I got back on my feet I realized failure is a test of one’s character.

This makes me realize that I’m not alone in failure; we all have experiences of things that didn’t work out. The important things are to ask ourselves: what have you learned from your experiences? What have you learned from the experiences of others? What have you learned from the experiences of people from a long time ago?

Keeping up

Life keeps going no matter what we do and it comes at us fast.  The question is will you keep doing the same thing and expect a different, or will you learn from each experience?

Something I think about is how far should I take these self-evaluation of experiences. Can this be done on a daily or weekly interval? Maybe monthly or yearly? Why not all the time? To be honest, I really don’t know.

I think it would be helpful to our personal vision and goals to be mindful of our actions; maybe do a quick evaluation of an action to see what could happen. The internet makes this easier, all we have to do is go online and search for what we want to do and see what happened to others.

Application of learned experiences

We can treat life as we do our jobs, using personal reviews to see how we are doing and if we are going in the right direction.

We can look at what did we did well, look at what we learned from our experiences and how to apply them in the future. This will also help us identify our struggles so we can figure out how to address them.

In July I’m going to do a mid-year review of my personal vision and goals using my bullet journal as my outcomes tool. This should be interesting but for this to be effective I have to be honest with myself and my actions.

Learning from experiences is like learning a new skill like playing guitar. When I wanted to learn to play I went online and found videos on instrument placement, technique, and chords.

This is possible because others before me went through the process of learning to play, figured out other ways to play and shared them.

Final thoughts

Even though it could be hard to see our failures for what they really are, stepping stones to something greater, it is good to take the time to see ways to improve what we are doing.

Life has a pattern of cause and effect, we can use this to improve our lives and to question ourselves and our motives.

It can be difficult to ask ourselves the hard questions like why do we believe what we believe? How often do we change our minds about ideas we think are true? What is it that we really want from our lives? Not in the superficial way of saying I want to be happy but digging deeper to see what specifically will make us happy. What sacrifices are we willing to make to bring this happiness into reality?

Even if we don’t make it to that happiness we want, we will be better people because we learned from ourselves or others and discovered important things about ourselves along the way.