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Mistakes Happen: How You React Determines Your Impact

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Mistakes Happen

Ever have one thing go wrong, and it throws off your whole day? You know, days like when you get out of bed late everything snowballs from there. It seems that the universe is conspiring against you. Guess what? It’s common to feel that way, but the universe is on your side.

Earlier today, like always, I made a quick check-in call to my husband mid-afternoon. He didn’t sound happy.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I found a mistake.”

Let’s freeze here. 

In case you’re not following along, he was having a crappy day because he found a mistake in his work.

Unfreeze.

“Oh! That’s great,” I said.

“Great?”

Freeze.

If you were in his shoes, what would be your default reaction? Bummed out that you made a mistake or happy that you found it?”

Unfreeze.

“Sometimes it can take a while to find a mistake, you did, and now you can fix it. That’s great.” I said with a hefty dose of sunshine.

“That’s true. I guess it is a good thing that I caught it so soon.”

End scene. 

Who cares, right? I called my husband. We spoke for thirty seconds, and both went back to our respective screens in our offices on opposite sides of town.

Mistakes happen. How you react determines your impact.

The call matters and I’m sharing it with you because there are countless conversations that you have every day that are just like this one. Something goes wrong, and it impacts your stress, emotions, and engagement. You feel down; frustrated.

This is the moment when one of two things happens: You wallow or adjust. It’s not just about getting the task done. You can do that happy or angry, content or frazzled, optimistic or pessimistic – the work can still get done. This is about your well-being.

Do you naturally turn towards the light or the dark? As humans, we often fixate on what’s wrong and gloss over the good. We nitpick, nag, and quibble. Not only do we do it to ourselves, but others too often forgetting that the energy we put out in the world is what we get back. (Notice: For you, when you read that, did you instantly think “yikes” or “nice”?)

If your day-to-day is more about what you consider unavoidable stress than positivity, you can turn it around. It’s time to re-train your brain. You can leave the darkness and step into the light.

Feeling frazzled and ready to give up? Try these mindset checks after a mistake:

Pause on possibilities

When I suggested that finding the mistake was a good thing, he paused to consider the truth in that new possibility instead of dwelling on the mistake itself.

Don’t beat yourself up

You can tell yourself you’re a dummy or that the work you’re doing is hard and you’re giving your best; mistakes happen. One thought horribilizes you, the other fits your experience into a discrete set of circumstances.

Ask yourself: What else is true?

What does that open up for you? Your next steps? What are the other pieces to the puzzle outside of you?

Ground yourself in gratitude

Might sound annoying to stop and look for the good when you’re in the dumps but it works. Start with three things you’re grateful for and hold for a beat to take it in.

Find a mirror

Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself and what’s going on around you in an honest way. You’re looking through a lens. A coach, friend, spouse, trusted colleague, or mentor can be your mirror and reflect back to you what they see. Take it in.

Quick mindset checks can be just what you need to trigger a change from hopelessness back to normalcy and a more optimistic outlook. None of these actions take long but are essential when you’re feeling stuck in the mud of your mistake and longing to get out. In truth, the more you practice these steps, the more they’ll begin to come naturally too ultimately forming a healthy habit!

It can take a while to get into a new habit. When it comes to mindset checks, essentially quick check-ins with yourself and, if needed, others, you need to start out with conscious practice. This checklist won’t magically appear on your phone screen the next time you’re stressing over a mistake. Create a reminder for yourself to walk through it so it can eventually become second nature.

Bottom line: You get to choose your experience. Why choose to feel stuck in the yuck when there’s a better way forward? Changing your way of seeing and choosing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight, but with conscious effort, you have the power to change everything.

Related: 25 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back

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