Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake

We all make mistakes when pursuing goals or creating new habits.  Whether it’s adding in more exercise, controlling our road rage, or not eating a handful of Reese’s Pieces before a meal (yes, that last one just happened), we all have slips when we’re trying to make changes.

I’m not going to go into some overplayed spiel on how we are too hard on ourselves or how we need to work on self-forgiveness. All that’s true, but you already know it and I don’t see the point in writing it.

I think fuckups are the best thing that ever happened. In fact, it’s better to set a goal and fumble along the way than to achieve it perfectly. Why? Because:

  1. No goal worth achieving should be that easy to do. If you can do it perfectly, it’s not the right goal. Willpower alone isn’t enough to get the good stuff. Take a risk and think big.
  2.  A goal that’s hard gives you more bang for your buck. When you hit a wall and persevere, you learn to troubleshoot, tolerate discomfort, and/or ask for help. And we all could stand to improve those skills.
  3. Mistakes allow you to perfect your system. Some people give up at the first challenge, others use the challenge to rethink their tactics. And, not surprisingly, the latter are the ones who achieve their goals. The truth is that no amount of planning prepares you 100%, if you aren’t willing to be flexible, chances are you won’t get there.
  4. How you do anything is how you do everything. Similarly, how you screw up one thing is how you screw up everything. (That sounded harsher than I intended, but just go with me on this one.) If your mistake is that you didn’t budget enough time for a task, chances are that’s a roadblock in other areas too. Addressing it head on will help you to address it across the board.
  5. Perseverance builds self-trust. Every time you make a mistake and quit, you reaffirm the belief that you can’t do it. And since that belief has, historically, gotten you less than desirable results, it’s time to choose a more resourceful belief. Simply put, if you believe “I’m a quitter” you will use that to rationalize quitting. Instead, consciously choose a belief that gets you the results you want. Try, “Maybe I’ve quit in the past, but this time I’m going to stick it out.” Then, act like someone who has that belief. (Hint: They don’t quit!)

Here’s the takeaway: 

Mistakes are opportunities to look at yourself, your system, and your choices. If you want to look at it as an excuse to quit or beat yourself up, by all means, keep playing small. But if you want to use it to jumpstart your growth, you’ll be making a decision that will have a powerful ripple effect in every area of your life.

The choice is yours.