Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’ll never do that again,” only to find yourself doing the exact same thing just a short time later? If so, you’re not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another.
But making the same mistakes over and over can be costly in more ways than one. Perhaps your team has lost faith in you because your behavior doesn’t match your words. Or maybe your errors have cost you or someone else a lot of money.
The good news is, you can take steps to learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom that will help you in the future.
Here are five ways to learn from your mistakes:
1. Acknowledge Your Errors
So often, leaders say things like, “I’m sorry you felt that way,” or “It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out.” But blaming other people or minimizing your responsibility isn’t helpful to anyone.
Before you can learn from your mistakes, you have to accept full responsibility for your role in the outcome. That can be uncomfortable sometimes, but until you can say, “I messed up,” you aren’t ready to change.
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2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions
While you don’t want to dwell on your mistakes, reflecting on them can be productive. Ask yourself a few tough questions:
• What went wrong?
• What could I do better next time?
• What did I learn from this?
Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.
3. Make A Plan
Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road. It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.
Make a plan that will help you avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change.
Whether you find an accountability partner or you track your progress on a calendar, find a way to hold yourself accountable. Keep in mind that what works for one person might not work with someone else.
4. Make It Harder To Mess Up
Don’t depend on willpower alone to prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification. Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again.
As a psychotherapist, I’ve worked with people who have found some creative ways to become more disciplined. I once worked with a woman who blew her budget every month because she shopped online late whenever she was bored.
To prevent herself from having instant access to her cards, she froze her credit cards in a big block of ice. She’d have to wait for the ice to melt to get the number. Whenever she found herself trying to thaw the block of ice, she would pause and realize how ridiculous the situation was and she’d stop short of spending money she didn’t have.
5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again
Sometimes, it only takes one weak moment to indulge in something you shouldn’t. Creating a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track could help you stay self-disciplined, even during the toughest times.