Mistakes are inevitable.

Before writing this, I had planned on writing about setting goals and discipline. However, after a particularly stressful and mistake-ridden morning, I decided to write about that instead.

“Everyone makes mistakes” is a statement that is repeated time and time again to comfort someone who just recently made one. It’s true, isn’t it? Given enough time in any situation, something is bound to go wrong.

I don’t want to go into details of what happened today, but the gist of it is that I failed to follow the guidelines of a pretty major aspect of my job and almost got into a lot of trouble for it. Nothing actually went wrong, which is lucky, but it could have and it would have been on me if it did.

Now that I’m writing this, I feel better. So in memory of my stressful day, here are the steps I take in order to move past my mistakes:

Take responsibility

The first thing we all have to do when we make a mistake is admit our fault and take responsibility for it. Getting prideful or trying to cover our asses in order to diminish the consequences will only make things worse. Step up, admit fault, and show that you are willing to learn from the situation. Not only will you feel better because you are open to improving, but you will also show your leaders that you are eager to improve.

“I take full responsibility and I’m looking forward to learning what I must in order to not let this happen again.”

Take action

If your mistake is fixable in the moment, fix it right away. Get to work on improving the present situation. Otherwise, lay the groundwork for next time. Write yourself a process document or work-flow chart, set reminders, create checklists, etc. There are a thousand ways to avoid repeating mistakes but it’s on you to implement them.

Take a moment

Making mistakes can be extremely stressful. In stressful situations, your body releases cortisol, which increases your heart-rate and breath-rate, and can make you feel antsy, nervous, or even nauseous. Some people are even prone to anxiety attacks in these situations. It is imperative to give yourself a moment to focus on your breathing, calm your nerves, and talk your way through the experience.

Being a regular practitioner of meditation is immeasurably helpful for me when I’m “taking a moment”. It has taught me to sit still, close my eyes, focus on my breathing and calm my mind. I cannot recommend this practice enough, but I know that it’s not for everyone. Do whatever works for you!

Forgive yourself

This is the last and most important step for me. After I’ve taken responsibility, taken action, and given myself a moment to calm down, I make sure I forgive myself for the mistake.

“You made a mistake, and that happens. You took responsibility, and you made a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Let it go, and move on.”

Dwelling on mistakes of the past will not help you avoid future ones. Learn what you need to learn and then move forward, relentlessly positive, knowing that you can be, and will be, better.

Who am I talking to?

Let’s be real. I wrote this for myself, as I do most of my articles. Just because I have a process for getting over the stress of mistakes doesn’t mean that it’s always successful. There will be mistakes that are easy to forget and mistakes that are potentially life changing. The latter will be much more difficult to work through, but if we practice these strategies on the smaller mistakes, it will better equip us to deal with the bigger ones.

If you’ve made a mistake recently and it has been weighing on you, I hope this helps. It helped me to write this out and I already feel way better.

–Johann Warnholtz

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