Bella Zanesco has experienced some pretty big screw ups in her life – and written a book about it, Smart Girls Screw Up Too (Wiley).
For Zanesco there’s no room for regret. She sees making mistakes as a process by which we can learn more about ourselves and the life we want to lead. Here’s a few of her suggestions:
Take ownership: The first step is to become aware of your contribution to the mistake and write it down. For small slip ups, it might just be a matter of getting it out of your head so you don’t keep thinking about it. For the biggies, it might be a list of behaviours and triggers that you need to explore further so you can recognise what you do and why.
Ask yourself questions: The main one: ‘How would I do things differently based on what I know now?’ Having what Zanesco refers to as an ‘experimental mindset’ is very empowering. “When we look at a mistake as an experiment, it’s not like anything is success or failure – it becomes feedback,” she explains. When you’ve put out the immediate fire, it’s time to look at your core beliefs and how you want to live your life. Keeping these things in mind as you go through the day, Zanesco explains, means “you make better decisions more in line with what you really want and who you really are.”
Share with others: Surround yourself with a support crew – support being the operative word, not fellow whingers or drinking buddies from way back. Zanesco is talking about people who will inspire, challenge and nurture you. These are the ones you trust to help you be honest with yourself about the mistakes you’ve made and, more importantly, figure out how you can do things differently next time.
Be kind to yourself: One of the big lessons Zanesco learned from her mistakes is that “smart girls accept help”. They also put themselves first when they need to, because as Zanesco puts it “When our tank is full we have more to give to others”. More energy within ourselves, means we have more energy to think through our actions and ensure they feel authentic.
Decide to do it differently next time: It’s all about learning, Zanesco says, taking tiny steps, doing something differently, telling your friends. “Know that if you want to feel better more often and feel more inspired, the key to getting there is screwing up,” explains Zanesco, “and doing it multiple times.”