Congruent Joy

How To Move On From a Mistake

So you made a mistake, and you know not to do it again… but what to do instead?

Let me ask first though… was it actually a mistake, or was it merely a failure?

Imagine I have ten business ideas and nine totally fail and make no money at all… and the tenth makes me a million dollars.

Were those nine business ideas a “mistake”?

What if I needed to go through the first nine ideas to find the one that worked? What if there’d be no way to tell in advance which would work… and, on average, I’d need to try ten to find one that did work?

What if after a failure, rather than feeling bad about it, instead I said, “Great! Progress! Having crossed this one off I’m that much closer to success.”

Most of us grew up going to school… and in the artificial environment of school the way to succeed is to get everything right… to have no failures.

In real life though if we have no failures we’re not trying things that could lead us to greater success.

I can try something and fail… yet still be happy that I tried, knowing that the pattern of behavior of being willing to try things will lead me to success.

On the other hand, something can actually be a mistake.

Where I say, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” Where there was not just a failure this time to get what I wanted… but some harm, some negative consequence.

Of course, the first lesson we learn from a mistake is “don’t do that again.” Which is good… but doesn’t tell us what to do instead.

Now, it may be obvious what to do instead. In which case, why are you reading this? Stop wasting your time and go do the obvious thing! :-)

But, what to do instead may not be obvious. And, if we don’t know what to do instead, we may find ourselves making the mistake again.

After all, we made the mistake in the first place attempting to fulfill some need or desire. To say “don’t do that again” avoids the mistake… but doesn’t get us any closer to fulfilling the need or desire. And if we have an unfulfilled need or desire it’s not unlikely that at some point we’ll be motivated to try again… perhaps with a bit of self-deception. “Maybe it won’t be a mistake this time.”

When we feel guilty about something we often don’t want to think about it too closely because it’s painful. Yet rarely is something entirely 100% negative. There was some positive aspect to our decision… even if the overall outcome was negative.

To move forward (after promising yourself not to make that mistake again), look at the positive aspects. What need or desire were you responding to when you took the mistaken action? What was successful about your action… even if the successful part didn’t justify the negative part?

Now we can begin to craft a solution. What could you do to replicate the successful part… without the negative part? What would be a positive way to fulfill your underlying need or desire?

Email me: [email protected]

Return home to Congruent Joy.