Mistakes don’t just exist to make you feel bad.
They’re often your greatest teachers, providing you with more relevant life lessons than an MBA ever can.
So shift your perspective and start viewing blunders and shortcomings as opportunities for growth more than anything else.
And further, don’t let the prospect of being wrong discourage you from trying again.
As the late Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw put it: “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
In this article, I’ll go through some of the common mistakes people make that can lead to wisdom and success.
Let’s jump in!
1) Choosing the wrong companions
You’ve heard it before: if you’re not losing friends, you’re not growing up.
When we’re young, social status is a huge priority. We tend to want to hoard “friends.”
But with growth and maturation comes the subconscious desire to tighten your circles.
Maybe you realize you’ve been spending years with the wrong crowd or wrong partner– people who bring you down instead of propping you up.
Maybe you start valuing your time more and want broader perspectives rather than the same, inane conversations and gossip.
I think we’ve all had a friendship or five that we now realize were more liabilities than anything.
The wiser you become, the more you prioritize genuine human connection and chemistry, rather than keeping people around just for the sake of it.
2) Financial mishaps
I won’t sugarcoat it: if you weren’t raised with financial literacy, then you’re likely at a disadvantage in life.
I definitely wasn’t taught about the value of money as a kid, nor am I naturally gifted at handling it.
Regardless, I decided to start a restaurant business a decade ago, armed only with my passion, a loan from my family, and a degree in journalism.
In the first few years, the restaurant enjoyed some modest success.
But after a series of short-sighted investments, foolishly borrowing money at an incredibly high interest rate, some irresponsible budgeting, and a global pandemic, I was in financial dire straits.
What followed was a multi-year period of exceptional stress, anguish, and regret.
But also, without this heavy experience, I would never have learned how to deal with my finances like a normal person.
Though I’m still far from perfect, I feel that I’m exponentially wiser and far more equipped to handle money than ever before.
With every crisis comes a silver lining, and mine was finally rethinking my relationship with cash.
3) Ignoring intuition
Do you ever frantically overthink a decision, say what shirt to buy, or what menu item to order, only to regret it later, wishing you had just gone with your original choice?
There is no shame in it, this happens to the best of us.
I’m probably not the first person to tell you, but in certain situations, you have to go with your gut feelings and instincts rather than overanalyzing to oblivion.
As a bit of a neurotic myself, I can firmly attest to the fact that too much thinking often means clouded judgment and flawed decisions.
So start learning to hear and listen to your intuition, good things will often follow.
4) Not taking risks because of fear of failure
You don’t want to be the person who was so perpetually fearful of leaving their comfort zone, that they lived with regret for the rest of their days.
No risks translate to missed opportunities for growth and happiness.
Maybe in the past, you’ve stayed in a dead-end job or prolonged a dysfunctional relationship because of a fear of the unknown.
When you finally found the resolve to take the leap and break the cycle, a whole new world full of diversity and joy opened up to you, after the initial discomfort.
And invariably, you wondered why you didn’t start sooner.
5) Ignoring health and well-being
Last year, I got so caught up trying to get my business to survive, that I had no motivation to prioritize my health.
So I didn’t eat properly, I stopped going to the gym (my main exercise became walking from the couch to the fridge), and I was drinking a little too much.
It didn’t occur to me how unhealthy I was until I started experiencing unbearably painful heartburn for weeks at a time.
At first, I was spooked, thinking I was getting a heart attack or dying.
However, after a visit to the doctor, he said that my sedentary lifestyle, my diet, and my stress levels were all contributing factors to these unprecedented bouts of chest pain–which, if left unchecked, could spiral into something far worse, he claimed.
At that point, I knew what I had to do.
I changed my diet, started jogging, and cut down dramatically on alcohol.
When I felt stress coming on, I practiced self-care through meditation, deep breathing, or going outside and getting fresh air, allowing myself a mental “reset” in the process.
Today, I’m as healthy as ever. Those arbitrary chest pains are a thing of the past.
But the thing about pain is, that it can come in many forms. This brings me to the next point.
6) Not apologizing or mending bridges
Because of her tumultuous childhood, a good friend had so much angst and hostility towards her father.
Yes, her old man was absent and irresponsible throughout her formative years but he had since repeatedly and earnestly tried to make amends.
She wouldn’t budge. His pleas for reconciliation were always met with cold silence.
When he passed away suddenly, the feelings of remorse and guilt began to haunt her.
That period left an inedible mark on her, kind of setting the tone for her relationships moving forward.
Instead of dwelling and ruminating excessively and regretfully, she has learned from her past.
She now prioritizes reconciliation and communication rather than holding onto pride and letting resentment fester.
And though it’s unspeakably tragic how she ended things with her dad, at least some good has come from the ordeal.
7) Living by others’ expectations
Real talk: freedom means living by your own accord, without changing your fundamental nature or aspirations for other people.
Imagine living to please someone, to fulfill someone’s dream, instead of forging your own path.
It may sound archaic and sad, but we still see this mentality all the time today.
Perhaps your parents pressure you into a certain career or settling with a certain type of partner.
You need to give yourself more credit than that. You need to start owning your existence.
If you live for others, this will only result in feelings of emptiness and loss of identity.
Once you break free from these chains, you’ll find a sense of autonomy and authenticity–feelings that, once realized, are irreplaceable.
At the end of the day, your true character and integrity will not be measured by how many mistakes you’ve made but by how bounced back from them.
You can’t change the past; what you can change is your willingness to grow and improve as an individual.
Once you shift your approach and begin seeing potential lessons everywhere, even in mundane circumstances, you’ll never look back.
This is wisdom in a nutshell.