Getting over mistakes

In our work, study and personal issues, we must sometimes come to grips with the fact that things do not always go completely to plan. On occasion, our best-laid strategies and intentions lie in tatters before us, perhaps due to circumstances beyond our control, but sometimes because we have simply made a mess of it in one way or another…

Did we plan well enough? Did we have enough information? Did we put in enough effort? Were there variables that we did not take into account? Were there circumstances beyond our control? Were we so full of confidence (or even arrogance) that we were impervious to advice or criticism?

In thinking back over a failure, the list of possible things that could have gone wrong can be long. When dealing with the wreckage of our failed efforts, the after-the-fact self-recriminations and ruminations can become a form of mental auto-mutilation that is ultimately both useless and destructive. How can we simply get over our failures and move on with a reasonably sane and clear head, a sense of self-forgiveness, and a new set of experiences that should hopefully lead to better judgment?

Learn 4 tricks to get over your failures and move on

For this modest article I have used a piece by Susan Tardanico ( as a guide to dealing with the aftermath of a failure. Hopefully these pointers (which I have condensed from five to four) will be easy enough to understand and put into practice when needed – if you can stop kicking yourself long enough to read them! Take a look at these points, and determine for yourself how they can help:

Don’t take a setback personally

To be blunt, you have to separate yourself – your own sense of who and what you are – from the “failure” you have just suffered. It’s your choice – do you want to label yourself as an irredeemable screw-up and pile on more and more negativity, or do you want to chalk up this temporary glitch as a useful experience, and move on to bigger and better things? Think of your recent setback as an anomaly unconnected to you as a person. Although your flawed planning and behaviors may have helped cause the problem, you must separate these issues from who and what you really are and push on, better informed and ready to attack the world!

Take Stock and Adapt

What did you learn from the experience? If you are able to take stock, learn, and apply the lessons learned from your mistake, then embrace the lessons and move on. You will be the better for it! The old saying holds true: “Good judgment comes from experience. But whence comes experience?... Bad judgment!”

Stop Dwelling on It

Sometimes we continue to play the negative episode in our heads time and time again, to the point that it can become an obsession. Are you losing sleep over it? Do you really think this is helpful? The answer should be NO! Apologize to others if you must and if it makes you feel better, but refer back to point 2 above. You can drive yourself to drink if you wish, but tomorrow you will simply wake up with a hangover, and nothing resolved. It is always easier to say these things than to do them, but with a bit of effort you can jump-start the process of healing your mind.

Ask yourself: could you make a decision today based on information that you don’t have now, but will have tomorrow? Of course not – you can only be informed only of what you know now! If information comes later that would have changed your mind regarding today’s decision, how could you possibly be responsible for that? You have to go with what you know now, not what you’ll know later. Whatever the case, remember that guilt and self-recrimination (especially if you’ve chosen to learn from your mistakes) are useless emotions. They help no one, especially not you!

Dump the Need for the Approval of Others

Certainly, the respect and approval of others is nice to have. You would not be a normal human being if you did not seek at least some confirmation from people who are significant to you. But ask yourself: with the obvious exception of your closest family and friends, is an expanded sense of the approval of the greater population really essential to your overall happiness? You spend more time with yourself than with anyone else, so whose opinion should count more? If someone criticizes you for a mistake, simply acknowledge the reality of it but affirm to yourself (and to others if necessary) that this mistake will contribute to the growth of your experience and skills.

Although I was inspired by Ms. Tardanico’s article in Forbes Magazine, these notes were put together as thoughts acquired from hard experience. I hope they can be helpful to you. They were to me.

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