Of all the decisions I fear to make, one of the most crippling is choosing a restaurant when I’m meeting up with a friend or family. What if they don’t like it? What if it doesn’t meet their expectations – or my expectations of what I want their experience to be? It’s really a rather silly fear and unnecessary stress. This is not a life or death situation. It’s one meal in the life of people who will enjoy many such meals in their lifetime. And yet, I spend precious energy on stressing about making the wrong decision.
This may be a simple and silly example, but why am I so afraid of being wrong? Isn’t there so much information and inspiration out there about how much we can learn from daring to make mistakes? And yet, we also hear, time is money, mistakes cost time and money, etc. It is a multibillion dollar global industry to create the space to make mistakes – it’s called school – where we learn through practice and experience with different topics presented by our teachers. We’re practicing ways of thinking and learning facts and figures. We spend weeks, months, years, working on theoretical projects that teach us how to think and dare to develop creative solutions to all sorts of problems. In many ways, there is no real risk in making a mistake here, in fact, you might think this is the ideal place to make mistakes – before heading out into the “real world” where the costs of mistakes are higher. However, this is like also where many of us learn the whole thing about making mistakes being bad. When we are tested on what we have learned, our mistakes are marked in red and points are our score and grade decreases. Poor grades can impact our further study options, earning opportunities, etc. So, what if we could regain those points we lost through resolving the mistakes – even talking through and seeking to understand the mistake? Isn’t that what we’re meant to be learning and will be valuable in our work and life experiences to come?
The cost of living
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’m going to ask again, what’s actually wrong with being wrong? What does each mistake actually “cost” us? I think this is really worth taking a step back and considering. Consider the cost to you to make the mistake versus the cost of being so cautious you are never even in a position to make a mistake.
And who gets to decide what’s “wrong” for each of us anyway? Yes, there are some laws and rules out there that we are bound to follow – but aren’t there always people that believe some of those are “wrong” as well? Ultimately, only you actually know what is right and wrong for you. And you learn that through your experiences and their impact on the world around you. Your intuition is actually fine-tuned through this learning.
Wisdom in imperfection
My mom always says to me, particularly of relationships, but I think it applies to so much more, “Nobody’s perfect, you just have to learn which imperfections you can live with.” What I’ve learned is, in order to know which imperfections I can live with, often, I actually have to try them on for size and “live” with them to find out. Course correcting is necessary. And in order to course correct, we need to learn what does and doesn’t work for us, and this can take time to realize.
So, then, why can the idea of making a wrong decision be so paralyzing in decision-making? I think we have to make being “wrong” ok – because it is only in acknowledging this that we can actually step back and course correct. If we are too afraid to admit we made a mistake, then we stay stuck in places that don’t serve us or support us in living the best life we possibly can. We stay in jobs, relationships, homes, friendships, roles, etc., that no longer serve us.
Make a different mistake
Go ahead, go out there and dare to make a mistake. Try something new, explore something that you think could be right for you, but you just don’t know. Dive in, dig in and and have an experience that will add you your knowledge of you. Make a mistake, embrace it and learn from it, so you don’t have to make the same mistake again and again. Make lots of mistakes, just let them be different mistakes that give you the opportunity to learn different things.
Written by: Marissa Dana
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