It has been said over and over: we all make mistakes. For all the careful planning, preparing, dedication and effort we put into a cherished goal it is still impossible to not slip and make mistakes every once in a while. No matter what the gravity of your mistakes are, the real fault lies in letting it derail you from your goal. You end up feeling so bad and sorry for yourself that it becomes so easy to give up.
One person can go through a series of mistakes yet bounce back gracefully, reaching his/her goals through persistence. Another person can make a single mistake and never pick him/herself up, going into a downward spiral of negativity and self-blame. Whether you’re a person who’s made enough mistakes to keep going back on track or someone who isn’t used to failure, you need to build the resilience required to reach you goal no matter not. Not giving up means making mistakes so it’s better to accept them and deal accordingly.
Here are some tips on what to do when you feel bad about letting yourself slip:
Keep the momentum on your side. A good goal fills you with positive energy and propels itself. The passion can stem from nobility of purpose, the vibrancy of a new endeavor, the adrenalin rush of hard work and/or your bubbly self-confidence. All of this can come crashing down once you slip: you can’t achieve a grade average high enough to get you into the college of your dreams, your boss fires you for a series of unexplained absences, you jeopardize a company project by not submitting required work on time. If you aren’t used to making and going through the consequences of a grave mistake, you can lose all your momentum and go on a downward spiral: you get very depressed and give up. Before you lose the momentum, take it somewhere else, somewhere positive. Learn from the experience as quickly as you can and use the energy to start anew.
Remember that you are always in control and responsible for your actions. No matter how things turn out, you can always choose your responses to them. You can’t control your external environment, you can only control the choices you make in relation to it. A lot of people are products of what has happened to them: they blame the government, their families, office, school and surroundings for how they turn out. The truth is you are a product of the decisions you make. Once you remember that you are responsible for yourself, you get that sense of power back and feel less sorry for yourself.
Take heart: failure is an event, not a person. How often have you heard a friend say, “I screwed up, it’s over, I might as well give up because it’ll never be the same.” By internalizing his mistake, he ends up defining himself within the boundaries of a failed experiment. Events come and go, and so does your part in them. By feeling so bad about it, you may develop a tendency to wallow in self-pity and make subconscious reasons to clip your own wings. Muster the emotional strength to move on. Humans are designed to learn through mistakes and you’ll do better next time. You’ve learned, and it won’t be as hard and naïve when the chance presents itself again.
Keep Yourself Mentally Strong. You know very well that life will kick you in the gut every now and then, if only to remind you that you can go wrong without you expecting it. Affirm this in yourself now: you will go wrong, but it doesn’t make you any less of a person. Read life-affirming literature. Practice proactivity on a daily basis. Reflect on why you tend to slip and guard yourself against the negative tendencies of your mind. By building resilience and mental fortitude you arm yourself for the unpredictable future.
You’re only human. Accept it. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes. Don’t fall into the trap of defining yourself only by your achievements since you’ll be setting yourself up for a life of comparative self-confidence. When you slip, what you need is self-affirmation, not self-blame.