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Don’t Panic! 5 Things To Do When You’ve Screwed Up

Don’t Panic! 5 Things To Do When You’ve Screwed Up

Mistakes. We’ve all certainly made a few in our time, and the idea of committing them is never a pleasant concept. The point is that we often screw up — sometimes badly. Maybe you said the wrong thing in the heat of the moment, or did something you never would have if not for your emotional state. We’ve all been there, and it’s agonizing. The key, really, is figuring out what to do after the deed.

It’s not the end of the world if you’ve behaved badly, but you will you be treated and judged by how you handle the aftermath. If you’ve messed up at work or dropped a bit of a misfire in the home realm, then check out this quick-fire guide to five of the best things to do when you’ve screwed up.

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1. Apologize immediately.

Saying “sorry” really is the best policy when it comes to committing a screw-up of any magnitude. Staying indifferent is insulting and implies that you don’t even care, which comes across as deeply rude. Therefore, you should apologize immediately to the parties concerned.

You might have to eat a bit of humble pie at one point or another, but that’s the price that comes with being less than perfect. Choosing to select the more honorable route and apologize for your mistakes might be more awkward than burying your head in the sand and walking away, but it will also earn you respect, friends, forgiveness, and self-esteem. So when you’ve screwed up, apologize sincerely, and get right back to work.

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2. Get some perspective and a reality check.

One of the most important things to do when you’ve screwed up is to take a step back and gain some perspective and/or a reality check on the situation. Hopefully, the situation you’ve just instigated isn’t too serious (i.e. something that will result in a stint in criminal court or your family never speaking to you again), and if so, it helps to try to logically and objectively evaluate what you’ve done.

If your screw-up is fixable, that’s something to be grateful for. And while it might have an effect on the people you care about or work with or spend time with, you can probably resolve this problem. Chances are you haven’t killed anyone, ruined anyone’s life, or caused anyone major distress. As the great philosopher Cicero said, “Dum spiro spero” which means, “While I breathe, I hope.”

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3. Make sure it doesn’t happen again by crafting a plan.

It’s okay to make mistakes; everyone screws up once in a while (yes, even that picture-perfect, sweet-as-pie girl in the office or that immaculately put-together guy down the street). The point is that screwing up is inevitable, but it’s what we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again that really matters in the long term. Basically? Make a plan.

Decide exactly what you did wrong, and really think about what you can do in the future to help prevent that from happening again. Learn something, remember something, put something into place — make a concerted effort. After you’ve sorted your plan out, go to the person who you offended or affected with your screw-up, tell them what you’re going to do to prevent it from ever happening again, and then let the chips fall where they may. It’s human to make mistakes, but what makes you a great person is how you recover from them and ensure that you never hurt the same person like that again.

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4. Take a break.

One of the best things to do is to get yourself out of the environment in which the mistake occurred, to stop your mind from dwelling on the situation. Staying in that immediate environment and muling over the mistake you made is only going to cause you to lose your focus, drop your ability to work and live in that situation, and end up in a shame spiral.

Go and take a breather; get yourself out of that office, or home, or wherever, and take a walk somewhere. Get yourself out of that negative headspace that will continue to haunt your mind and affect your ability to be a normal, functioning human being. Take a solid 15 minutes to gather your energy and strengths, and make your plan.

5. Be kind to yourself.

Finally, practice a bit of self-compassion following a moment of guilt and sadness over a mistake. In a world where we’re expected to be flawless human beings with physical perfection and ideal lives, the idea of screwing up seems almost horrific. It isn’t. You’re human. It’s okay to mess up.

Don’t go beating yourself up, and and don’t dwell on your mistake to the point of it having a detrimental effect on your mental health or your ability to be yourself around friends, coworkers, and loved ones. They’re human too, and the vast majority of people will readily help you recover and allow you to sincerely apologize. Take a deep breath, try to calm yourself down, and remember that it isn’t the end of the world. You can always start again, and when your head hits the pillow, just remember Scarlett O’Hara’s classic, life-affirming adage, “After all… tomorrow’s another day!”

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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