The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. – Elbert Hubbard
Ever thought that you are the only one who keeps on repeating the same mistakes? That others around you have been blessed by a divine ray of light from up above and have achieved superhuman capability of perfection?
Well, nobody is perfect and making mistakes is OK. It is in our brains, our psychology – the tendency to repeat the same behaviors.
But when we end up repeating the same mistake, we feel soooo awful. A feeling of self-reproach and frustration overwhelms us.
The next time you are about to go down the path of cursing your ever-flailing self-control, remember that it is possible to avoid making the same mistakes but change, in any aspect, feels hard and takes time. Therefore, you need to plan and stay positive as you work towards it.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes and Learn What You Can
Making mistakes is not a crime. We all have been there. The important part is to accept it and understand what went wrong. Unless you admit your mistake, there is no way you can avoid it the next time.
Our brain is wired to learn and adapt. And when we happen to be making the same mistake, our brain sends out a warning signal based on past errors. This helps us re-examine and modify our response.
So what is the takeaway here? To carefully examine mistakes we have made and understand why we may have made them. If you always reach office late and have been reminded of this often by your manager or HR, it is better to stop blaming external factors like traffic congestion and see if getting up early or living near office might work.
Examine which Behaviors You Want to Change
Work increases your stress level?
Not able to give enough time to family?
Genuine problems. Another genuine problem which so many people deal with is smoking.
‘I can’t stop smoking. I am hooked.’ Heard this one before?
Each time someone smokes, they feel relieved. But smoking is not a solution to managing stress. Plus, it hurts health as well as pocket. To get rid of this unhealthy habit, examine why you haven’t been able to do anything about it. Maybe you rationalize your behavior by thinking that X number of cigarettes are not going to do much harm. But even you know that it needs your attention.
Talking of other bad habits, are certain situations or events reinforcing them? If you indulge in unhealthy snacking, understand what might be the reason. Maybe to suppress anxiety?
Once you find the reasons, you are better equipped to change how you respond to a situation and avoid repeating it. Find the habits and behaviors that you think need to be worked on first. Don’t pick too much at once. Focus on a select few.
Keep Correcting Mistakes and Keep Improving
As humans we are prone to making mistakes, some just do it more than others. But it is a common denominator. Agree?
I figure nobody has a long list of mistakes to take care of. Even if you have, tackle them one at a time.
Let’s assume, you regularly end up missing the due date of a bill. What you can do is set up reminders, be it on a sticky note or on your smartphone.
It is just an example. You can try what works for you. But the important part is staying focused on improving. Don’t set your goals too high. It is easier to find success if you focus on continually improving over time, rather than the end result.
Find Something to Replace Old Behaviors With
OK. Let’s see what you have been doing.. Maybe you have been neglecting your health and despite knowing very well that you need to do something about it, you just carry on with the same routine. No exercise, no healthy diet.
So as a first step, you can replace eating fried snacks or whatever is ‘not exactly healthy’ with fruits or you can reduce your food intake, slowly and gradually. Good enough as a first step. As a next step, you can make some time for a light workout or walk at least 30 minutes a day.
The goal here is to replace old behavior with a new one. Because you are more likely to keep repeating a certain behavior unless you have got something else to replace it.
Prepare for Obstacles
It is hard to change anything we are used to or have been doing for years.
So before you start taking action and get ready to put in motion some long impending changes, you need to make some preparations too. There will be obstacles that will prevent you from meeting your goals. By preparing beforehand, it will be easier to make the changes.
For example, if you think a lack of time might curtail your plans to increase exercise time, you need to schedule your day in a way so that you can make some time for it.
If you crave smoking after lunch or at a particular time of the day, replace it with maybe playing a game on your phone or something that you find interesting. You can chat with your non-smoking friends during your breaks. At least you won’t be tempted to smoke.
Don’t Worry about Setbacks
Failure is a part of learning anything worthwhile. And along the way you will realize that things will not always turn out the way you want them to.
Setbacks are a part of the larger scheme of things and they will stand in your way, anyhow. But don’t let them discourage you. They don’t mean that you have failed or it is time to quit. Learn from them and keep working towards your goals.
Your life, your goals are important. I am sure once you decide that setbacks are nothing more than a trivial distraction, you will begin to see your goals much clearly. Think of setbacks as reminders, informing you of events and conditions that pull you back to your old habits.
The human life, this world is not perfect. May be you already know this. And neither of us is or can be perfect. So if we try to eliminate all mistakes from our life, it will feel extra overwhelming.
Our aim should be to improve. Things are as they are. What we can do is get from step 1 to 2 and so on but without any unrealistic expectations.
There is always a solution to any problem and even if the problem is not resolved completely, some progress is always better than nothing.
There are a lots of practical solutions out there that can help you. Your friends can suggest some ways, you family can, but in the end it is up to you to adopt what works.
Don’t judge yourself if it takes some time to get into a slightly new routine. You will be fine.