We all make mistakes. It’s as human a trait as anything. However, work mistakes can feel particularly momentous, particularly if there’s a financial or reputational cost. It’s easy to lapse into negative thinking, but with a few targeted strategies, you can break the cycle of obsessive thinking.
In general, retraining your brain to break bad habits can be a key way of improving your life. When it comes to working mistakes, the basic principle is no different. First, try to reduce self-criticism by avoiding absolute statements like “I’m inadequate” or “I’m a failure” and focusing on relative and subjective statements like “I feel like I’m inadequate”.
While being distracted can lead to mistakes in the first place, once you’ve already goofed up, a bit of distraction can help reset your brain. This can mean calling a friend to vent, taking a walk, or even making yourself a hot drink. A slow breathing exercise can also help decrease your stress levels.
Most importantly, make a plan to get things back on track. The key is to start small and outline each discrete step while being specific and realistic in your expectations. Soon, you’ll be so engrossed in the planning that the stress over the mistake will be gone, and you can set things straight instead.153