You’ve been working on a project at work for the last year. The project gets canceled.
You opened a new business. It failed in six months.
You went on twenty interviews. You got rejected from them all.
One common response to these disappointments is “what a waste of time”.
I used to work for software startups, where projects were always getting shelved, killed, or changed beyond recognition. And “well THAT was a waste of time” echoed through the halls on a weekly basis.
But I don’t buy this conclusion or attitude. Hindsight is 20/20.
I doubt there have been many business projects that started out with people saying, “Hey, let’s do something that is a HUGE waste of time.” And then everyone gets excited and goes and wastes lots of time (and money).
People start things because the think they might work out. And (especially in a startup or new business) a lot of times things don’t work out. Or change a lot and require rework.
That’s just part of the deal.
I think you could make a strong argument that everything is an experiment, there are no sure things, and that one of the main reasons you do things is to see if they work out.
Somewhere along the the line (maybe a the beginning even) this gets lost and forgotten. Maybe because there’s more security in believing in a sure-thing. Maybe it’s the IKEA effect. Maybe it’s naivety.
Maybe you planned poorly. Maybe you made some terrible assumptions. That’s part of the experiment, too.
When things don’t work out, it’s an opportunity to reflect and learn. “Well that was a waste of time” is not the lesson and is not a lesson at all – it’s just letting your emotions cloud your judgment and block your growth. It is nothing but an bandaid of indignance on a wounded identity. Instead be compassionate and be glad you tried. Then finish the work by learning from it.