Second chances are beautiful. I should know, I’ve had many in my life.

There are of course the day-to-day events like the time I completely ruined that pot cooking burning dinner, the shame-filled events like failing a class senior year of college, the doubt-filled events like not getting into graduate school and having no alternate plans, or the countless moments of uncertainty in building a business.

So often we can look at heartaches, losses, and failures as proof that there’s something wrong with us, and we can lose our motivation.

Here’s the thing to remember: growth, success, and fulfillment aren’t always automatic, but they ARE always possible.

Now don’t get me wrong, these moments did not feel good, but I also know that mine is not a sad story. It is a story of finding beauty and motivation in second chances.

So many of the wonderful things in my life are directly tied to second chances. I made that dinner again (and it was so delicious), got a solid B in that class (and it was the sweetest B I ever got…still not perfect, but that’s not the point), went to grad school (and got that Ph.D.), and am celebrating the small victories in growing a business.

Every second chance (and beyond) has brought with it a chance to celebrate, no matter how small the victory.

Whenever I’ve needed to try again or even start over from scratch, second chances have been a beautiful hidden gift.

I’m not some special case. This is as true for any one of us.

You see, there’s no goal that second chances don’t bring you closer to. Even if you don’t come out the winner in the end, that’s alright because that’s not required for growth.

The second chance might not be as literal as a complete do-over, but even when that one thing cannot be done again, you will have another chance at challenging yourself, loving, and growing.

All of life is practice. It is one long transition from the day you are born to the day you take your last breath. And each moment of that transition is a moment to try something again.

Besides the obvious doing it again part, second chances can be a powerful lesson in compassion, motivation, and appreciation. If you’re anything like me and get hung up on perfection, maybe this is especially true for you.

For those of us with a taste for perfection (and control and certainty), it can feel like you’re supposed to be perfect in every last thing (the first time around).

But real life is wobbly, sloppy even. And sometimes you fall down – hard. This doesn’t make you ill-equipped or an imposter.

It makes you a human.

The first time you try something, it might not go perfectly. Scratch that, you can predict that it won’t go perfectly (and if it is perfect, celebrate that!).

The first try might not be smooth, and it might not be efficient. There are going to be things you don’t know and things that you don’t even know you don’t know.

Okay, if we’re being really honest here, sometimes it isn’t perfect even after the first try. Yes, we’ve all had those “I’ve been here before” moments.

Third and fourth chances are beautiful, too.

And for those things that you’ve been practicing (and therefore might believe should be going perfectly by now)? Yes, you are still allowed to try again.

For whatever reason you might need a second chance (maybe because you’re human and this is life), you have some choices to make:

Choice #1: Choose to either keep going or not.

Whatever you choose here, own it. You do have the freedom to decide what is and is not an effective use of your time and energy. If you choose not to keep going, that’s absolutely your choice and your right. Don’t beat yourself up about it (and don’t get stuck in the blame game, either).

And remember. Yours is not a sad story. No, it is a story of rising when you fall and using second chances to create something beautiful.

If and when you do take that second chance, do so with pride knowing that this is a beautiful opportunity and that whether or not you stay motivated and grow is up to you.

Choice #2: Choose to either stay motivated or to get discouraged. To do this, ask yourself:  

What attitude will I choose to have about this?

You could choose to beat yourself up about it. Get discouraged. Lose motivation.

OR you could choose to use this as a chance to celebrate the small victories and propel yourself to the next level.

Do I choose to approach this with fear and frustration or with enthusiasm and passion?

This is your chance to choose to believe in the bigger picture, even if you haven’t seen it yet. You also get to decide whether you believe in YOU.

It’s all too easy to doubt in yourself or your ideas or your abilities, so this is an active choice that you have to make.

Choose courage. Choose enthusiasm. Choose mindfulness. @ralph_leslie (Click to Tweet!)

Am I going strive to come out even stronger than if the first time was perfect?

This is your moment to learn about you and your process.

Do you have a pattern in how you deal with setbacks or defeats?

Have you been here before?

Use this second chance to refine your skills, learn something new, and most importantly develop a deeper, closer, and kinder relationship with yourself.

So what do you think? What motivates you through second chances and what have second chances given you? 

Leave a comment and share below.

Dr. Leslie Ralph is a clinical psychologist on a mission to help you plot your escape from fear and perfectionism and find that sweet spot where achievement meets happiness. She’s absolutely crazy about topics like mindfulness, courage, and compassion, which you can find her talking about on her blog Openly Being, online classes + programs at Openly Being Academy and podcast Perfectionist Reform School. You can find her on FB and Twitter


Image courtesy of Skitter Photo.