There is no shame in making mistakes. We all do it. It is part of being human and living. So, you can’t expect yourself or anyone else to be perfect. But what is bad is when you make a mistake and do not take any of the lessons you could have learned from that experience and apply it to your life. Not learning from mistakes, making the same errors over and over, and ignoring the opportunity to learn from your missteps are crucial problems for anyone. So, how exactly should you learn from your mistakes? Here is a step-by-step guide to analysing your setbacks.
Step 1. Recognise and Accept that You Messed Up
For many, this is the most crucial step because we are conditioned to think mistakes are wrong or bad, so we bend backwards, trying to ignore, blame others, or otherwise pretend like we did nothing wrong. Stop blaming “life,” quit shifting attention to something or someone else, and start owning your mistake and your role in making it. Whether intentional or accidental, you can learn a lot from what has happened, but you must begin with full acceptance of what has happened.
Step 2. Look for Possible Causes
Notice we said “possible” and emphasised there may be more than one cause for this problem. Not everything that led up to your mistake may be your fault or even something you can control. It is essential to look at it all. What precisely happened that was the problem? Is this something you have done before? Has a similar mistake happened previously, or is this part of a larger pattern? Were there circumstances beyond your control that you could have planned for? Are your bad habits contributing to the error? Were other people involved, and if so, what was their role? Do you have preconceptions about the cause preventing you from seeing other possibilities? Looking at the problem from all sides and multiple perspectives can help.
Step 3: Look for the Mismatch
Most of the time, you can figure out what went wrong, especially in more complex situations, when you look at what you expected to happen versus what transpired. Why did you think that would occur? How did you imagine things happening, and how does this compare with what led to the mistake? Evaluating your expectations versus the reality of the situation often leads you straight to where things went astray, which helps find the culprit.
Step 4: Evaluate Yourself as an Outsider
Try to look at what you did from someone else’s perspective. What would they say you did wrong? How would they judge your choices, decisions, or beliefs? What strengths helped you in this situation, and does this mistake reveal any weaknesses in your knowledge, skills, or traits?
Step 5: Gather Information About What to Do Next
Learn as much as possible about alternatives, possible remedies, ways to make up for the mistake, and other information that will help you put the situation right or make better choices next time. Talk to others involved. Listen to their insights. Ask experts or mentors what they think you should do. Talk to others who are good at learning from setbacks to gain their views.
Step 6: Apply What You Learned to a New Plan
How can you use everything you have learned in this process moving forward? What will you do in a similar situation in the future? How are you working to fix poor habits that contributed to the problem? What perspectives have you gained that will allow you to look differently at similar situations next time? What action will you take to apply your new learning to make up for your error or prevent future difficulties?