No matter how hard we try to make professional and financial progress every day, sometimes the unexpected happens: We make a mistake. This mistake most likely comes with a wave of negative emotions that can sabotage our ability to overcome obstacles. But instead of becoming paralyzed by your error, here are three ways you can turn the unpleasant feelings that come from making a mistake into something positive:
You’re Embarrassed: No matter the mistake, you may think the fewer people that know about it, the better. But don’t tell yourself you need to feel ashamed, or keep your mistake a secret. Consider confiding in a trustworthy friend or colleague. Because the act of sharing your mistakes gives you not only the opportunity to work out aloud a resolution and a way not to repeat it, but it also may put your momentary lapse into perspective. For example, when your friend relays that they once made the same mistake themselves.
You Berate Yourself: “How could you make this mistake, you big dummy?” you may say to yourself. A slew of put-downs and criticisms may run through your mind once you realize you’ve acted unwisely. If you are hard on yourself, maybe you won’t make this mistake again, right? Unfortunately, a self-defeating mentality will only damage our confidence and ability to think positively in the long run. Focusing on our weaknesses distracts us from our strengths. Being hard on yourself for racking up too much credit card debt, for example, won’t help you as much as your deciding to sit down and plan not only how to pay off your debt, but also how you can prevent yourself from making the same mistake in the future.
You Have Not Failed: A mistake, if it is major enough, may feel like the end of your career, or your financial security. But don’t lose faith in yourself! Use this mistake not as a funeral pyre but as fuel for your next step. This one particular choice did not work out; how can you behave differently in the future? As you work your way toward becoming a leader in your profession, don’t be afraid to use the story of growth from your mistakes as inspiration for your team.
As overstated as it may be, it’s true: nobody’s perfect. When you catch yourself feeling down after a mistake, take pause, and instead consider what your next positive move will be!
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