There Is No Such Thing as a Mistake
You know that thing you did where you wish you’d done it differently?
Maybe you even blame yourself for not “having known better”.
I know what that’s like.
One of my own big decisions dates back to when my first child was born.
After welcoming his arrival, I soon realized that I wanted to spend more time at home enjoying motherhood, while also wishing to continue my career track.
I made a bold request to petition my department for part-time status. It felt risky at the time because 1/ no one in my department was working part-time, and 2/ I didn’t have a strong fallback plan. But I was willing to take a chance.
While this decision turned out well, at the time, I was terrified that it might be the wrong move.
There was no guarantee–nothing can be predicted with 100% certainty.
Yet our brains want certainty all the time.
So how do we manage the discomfort that lies between those two truths?
How the brain makes decisions
Every day we are faced with a myriad of decisions.
The number of choices we face takes its toll on our brain power and energy.
We suffer from decision-making overwhelm (known as decision fatigue). In this state, our brain is unable to make sound decisions that align with our values and goals.
Repeated decision-making consumes our energy, leaving the brain glucose-deprived.
The tired brain gravitates toward immediate gratification.
Given those basic facts of our biology, it makes sense to reduce the number of decisions we make. It also makes sense to decide BEFORE we get tired, and to structure our environment to support our commitments.
But what do we do when we feel intense pressure to choose “right” for fear of making a mistake? What do we do when we feel paralyzed by indecision?
The real problem with decision-making
Making decisions shouldn’t be so hard. We either want something or we don’t, right?
But here’s the truth: the options we’re deciding between aren’t usually the problem. Instead, our thoughts about the decision become the problem!
We believe that we should be able to predict how things will turn out. We try to imagine every possible scenario before making a choice.
When the decision works in our favor, then we are satisfied with the choice. But when something fails to go as hoped, we often judge ourselves harshly for the mistake.
But again – we cannot predict anything with 100% certainty.
Life is uncertain, and uncertainty involves risk.
And risk is uncomfortable.
We yearn for a shortcut to the best version of ourselves. We want to “get there” without any faltering along the way.
Every time we procrastinate for fear of making a “wrong” choice, we get caught in a cloud of mental confusion and stagnation. We already know that this fear doesn’t serve us well.
So consider the alternative…
What if we made decisions from the belief that there’s no such thing as a mistake?
What if we could accept uncertainty and take a chance anyway?
What if we could trust any choice we made, knowing that it was the right decision in that particular moment, given the options and knowledge available at the time?
Can you feel the freedom in that?
If there’s no such thing as a mistake, results become neutral outcomes. They are neither good nor bad. Every decision delivers more useful information.
If there’s no such thing as a mistake, then we are free to make attempts, evaluate their outcomes, and course-correct as we move forward.
What it’s like to live with no mistakes
When you practice courageously making choices, you build self-confidence and soften self-judgment. You develop a kinder, less self-critical approach.
When you let go of trying to “get it right” you’re able to take risks, build self-trust, and move toward more powerful action.
Decision-making from neutrality creates inner resilience. You learn that whatever the outcome, you can always change it in the very next moment.
Taking carefully measured risks moves you forward. (Just don’t spend too much time deciding how careful to be!)
Make your decisions, make your moves, and make your mark.
PS- What would you be doing if you knew that you couldn’t make a mistake?
I coach women to bravely make decisions for themselves so they can step into their happiest, healthiest versions of themselves. Message me if you want this for yourself, too.