People make mistakes. Some make more than others, but mistakes happen every day. When you make a mistake, are you kind to yourself or is your self talk something like this,”Not again! I cannot believe I did that.” Or, “Ugh, what is wrong with me. I don’t have time for this.” Or, “Oh man, I am so getting fired for real this time.”
It was during one of these moments where I saw a card with the words of Neil Gaiman at my desk: If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. I was at my desk after just finishing a load of laundry and realizing for the second time I had shrunk one of my favorite shirts. I have the same shirt in two different colors and I shrunk them both, one a few weeks ago and one just the other day. After the first time, I just took a deep breathe, went online and bought the shirt again, and tried to just chalk it up to moving too fast. After the second time though, well, it wasn’t that easy to let myself off the hook. The self-talk was not so pleasant.
So, staring at these words I thought to myself that that was a better way to think about mistakes, so I’ve been trying to change my self-talk to be more reflective of this message. Instead of talking down to myself and wishing I didn’t make the mistake in the first place, I thank myself for trying and try to think about how I can avoid the mistake next time. For the laundry example, I am putting everything that needs to “lay flat to dry” in a mesh bag, so it is easy for me to remember what to do with them after the washer is done.
Doing laundry is one example of the many ways I’ve been trying to apply this message to my life. At work I’ve been trying to take on things that make me nervous, such as contract negotiations, and letting my boss listen into the discussion to give me tips. I’ve also been using this line of thinking when I cook a new recipe that is still edible but bland and needs to be spiced again; or a blog post that is a new topic idea that isn’t quite right yet.
Even if it ends up being a mistake, at least it was a start, and we should all get credit for starting.