Life is a constant series of tests, challenges, and changes. We are all trying to make the best choices and to progress but it is inevitable that sometimes we take a wrong turn. Our lives move quickly in the modern world and there is very little we can do to avoid sometimes making small mistakes, nobody has time to agonise over every tiny choice. It begs the question, which mistakes should we focus on to have the best effects on our lives and our impact on the world. So what are the areas where we most commonly fall down and make the big mistakes? 

Failure to believe in ourselves- Failure to believe in your own ability to complete a task well is the most damaging way that we all cause ourselves to fail at tasks that we haven’t even started yet. We look at a daunting challenge, think negatively about ourselves, and then fail to even begin. Nobody wins every time at everything they try, it is only human to fail sometimes. If you don’t make an attempt though, you fail every day that you wish you had tried. As runners say, it doesn’t matter how slow you are, you are still beating everyone on the couch. 

Obviously, the point applies far beyond running. If you let your impostor syndrome stop you from putting forward a paper for consideration, starting a degree or taking up a new professional opportunity, you are on the metaphorical couch. 

Ruminating- In plain English, obsessing about things you can’t change. Most often this is a work or relationship mishap which you keep going over in your mind. You might have done poorly on a task or an exam or had a bad ending to a romance. Whatever it is, we are all prone to getting bogged down in our pasts. It takes up the mental room and slows you down from making progress. If you did badly at work or university, figure out how you failed, talk to your teacher or boss. Then make a plan with clear steps on how to do better next time. 

If your problem was personal, figure out whether you did anything that was unkind or inconsiderate, if not then put it out of your mind. As the person who was wronged, you are not responsible for carrying that baggage, that is for the culprit. If you could have behaved better, find a way to apologise sincerely and considerately, and then resolve to be better in the future. You can’t change the past. 

Catastrophizing- Even in these strange times, assuming everything will have the worst possible outcome is a big mistake. We are all tempted by it when we feel low but practice balancing out your thoughts by imagining the best-case scenario. Perhaps you will wake up feeling energetic, get good feedback, or end up talking to an old friend who helps you through a difficult issue. There are silver linings to every cloud and optimism can be a healthy choice. 

Human beings are incredible, but we all mess up. What makes us special is how well we can recover. 

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