Trip, but don’t fall : How to get yourself back on track

Every person reading this has made a bad decision. Regardless of the magnitude of the decision, you feel some sense of hopelessness after you’ve confirmed that it, indeed, was a bad decision. 

I have made many bad decisions and I have decided to file them all under “lessons”. 

As we get older, making a bad decision costs us more. There are probably more people involved now (esp. if you have a family); or there is a greater fall-out; some greater loss is involved as we accumulate experiences; obtain better jobs, families and more loved-ones. You become more disappointed in yourself because so many other people have been affected by this decision, or because you’ve lost all the accolades you were working towards.

But, you should in fact do the opposite. 


At my very first job, as a sports reporter/producer, I had a wonderful supervisor who said the only thing you can do when something goes wrong on a broadcast is remain calm. My very first year of producing our broadcast of the National Boys and Girls athletic championships (which is a pretty huge deal), I didn’t eat the whole day because I was so concerned that if I left my post something would go wrong. But, did my presence really stop anything from going wrong? Did my decision to starve myself really make anything better?

Sometimes we have irrational beliefs about things and these irrational beliefs make it seem like one bad decision, or one mishap would be so much worse than it would actually be. I mean, I literally did not eat all day (I didn’t even feel hungry at all, I suppose all that adrenaline kicked in) and really  what was the worst that could happen? There could have been an issue with the broadcast (maybe the presenters would have said the wrong thing; maybe there could have been a break in transmission; etc…) and they would’ve just gone to commercial. That would have been the end of the disaster. 

My parents are so calm during major mishaps I used to think they weren’t really processing the magnitude of the mistake. I got into my first accident a few years after I got my license (let me just add that it wasn’t my fault) and my parents were so calm throughout the whole process. So incredibly calm, that I wondered whether they were seeing the same damage. 

But, if we take this calm approach (without the car accident of course) to all our bad decisions then we probably wouldn’t feel so scared about making mistakes. 

When we’ve set our goals and outlined a plan to achieve those goals, any mistakes we make on that road feels like we’ve taken several steps back. These mistakes though, are really lessons - exercises in faith and determination that will illustrate that we are either ready to move to the next step on the journey or we’re just not quite ready yet. 

Your anxiety over a mistake doesn’t make the mistake disappear or decrease in magnitude but it may impair your ability to come up with a solution. 

Remember that supervisor I spoke about at my first job? His rationale for remaining calm when a mishap occurs is that we are irrational when we get flustered and a solution that is simple to derive at when you’re calm takes a much longer time when you’re flustered.

This whole idea of remaining calm is not an easy thing to do - especially if you overthink everything (like I do), and especially when one bad decision had a domino effect and has caused a series of ripples (you’re just not sure you will be able to come back from). 

Our perspective of our mishaps will ultimately affect how we process them and label them. Hence the title of this article, I want us to see our mistakes as just a little snafu on our journey. We’ve tripped but we haven’t fallen - we are still on course to being the best version of ourselves, we’re just taking the long way now. 

Do not give mistakes power over you and your journey. The only purpose of a mistake is to make us stronger as we continue on this journey called life. 

Here’s to collecting lessons and gaining experience !