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10 Ways to Screw Up — What NOT to Do to Get Ahead


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The road to success is never a straight line free of mistakes and errors that set us back. Knowing our way around what works and what doesn’t stems from experiencing failures that either delay our progress or bring us crashing back to square one altogether.

Setting those who succeed apart from the bad oranges who end up abandoning their dreams is having the awareness and ability to sit back, take a look at the bigger picture, learn the valuable lessons that life’s screw-ups teach us, and come back stronger, wiser, and more determined to get to the top.

We need to be completely aware of WHAT we failed, WHEN we failed, WHY we failed, and HOW we can bounce back. These ten ways to screw up will help you understand common areas of failure, and how to remedy this.

1. Being Lazy

You can be the most talented or most highly skilled professional out there, but it all goes to waste if you neglect to clock in your hours and work on reaching your goal.

What truly paves the way to success is finding the motivation to keep going, setting aside the luxury of not doing anything or indulging in a hobby when you’ve already ticked off your perceived to-do list.

Remember, do what you have to do, before you do what you want to do.

2. Having a Lack of Personal Conviction

Whether we are faced with a moral dilemma, no matter how shallow or sensitive, dilly-dallying on both sides of the spectrum is a horrible habit to develop. Most of us do it to please everyone and avoid conflict, or climb the ladder with the least amount of effort.

Do not hesitate to call out things that go against what is right. It may ruffle some feathers and raise eyebrows, but you’ll soon find out that those who stick with you are those who are worth your time and effort. In turn, they will raise you up and push you towards success.

3. Making Up Excuses

The blame game is all too easy to play when we encounter a failure—pointing fingers, complaining about the system, and citing unforeseen events.

There are two words for how you can overcome this: Own Up.

A lack of accountability is one of the biggest shortcomings of people who miss more than they hit, mainly because they refuse to accept that they are directly involved in the failure in front of them. In turn, the root cause of the problem is never identified—and that’s the first step in resolving an issue that you would want to avoid in the future.

Prevent this by doing a self-evaluation: find out what behaviour, habit, or errors you may have done that contributed to the lack of success, and encourage others to do the same—but make sure that you are doing it alongside them.

4. Thinking You’re Too Young

A lot of young innovators and dreamers get trampled down by the older generation who always say, “With age comes wisdom.”

This is not true. With experience comes wisdom, and it just so happens that older people have had more experience. The good news is this can be remedied.

Clocking in your hours and absorbing things that will enrich you is not directly proportionate to your age. If you actively seek out your qualifications and educate yourself to master any field that you choose, then age merely becomes a number that you fill out on forms.

5. Thinking You’re Too Old

On the other side of the hill, many of us may have experienced epiphanies later than our 20’s or 30’s. Changing careers or starting up a business is downright frightening when you’re at an age where people expect you to have a mid-life crisis.

But remember this: people who say that old dogs can’t learn new tricks have never trained a dog. Our ability to learn and go for our dreams don’t depend on the elasticity of our skin, or how high the digits are when we fill out the blanks next to “age.”

6. Lacking Consistency

Many people who fall short of their goals quit or lose the drive that they had in abundance at the start. Losing motivation, burning out, or simply becoming bored at the seemingly slow pace of things all contribute to the differing levels of enthusiasm and quality of work that you put out.

Discipline is one of the hardest values to develop and maintain, but it is also one of the most important. Keeping your eyes on the prize and refusing to be distracted from your targets are essential in balancing routine and engagement.

Set performance indicators, whether you’re a one-man circus or a team of ten. Keeping track of your output is the best reminder if you’re starting to slip up, and a great motivator once you see your records on a consistent high.

7. Having a Low Self-Confidence

“You can do it!” has got to be the most used and abused set of encouraging words on the planet, mainly because someone—whether it’s a colleague, a friend, or you in front of the mirror—should always remind you that you, indeed, can.

You can have all the necessary qualifications and more, but no matter how many skills that you have that no one else can match, you’ll never get to where you want to be if you don’t reach in, pull that self-doubt out of your brain, and pump it full of self-assurance in its place.

Once you are at peace with what you can do, and what you can do very well, focus on that. And to keep that confidence filled to the brim, continue learning your craft, and be one step ahead of the competition by keeping up with the changing times and technology. Make this a part of your lifestyle, and you’ll never second-guess your place in the world again.

8. Over-Thinking Your Past Mistakes

Dwelling on our shortcomings and drowning in self-pity or, in some cases, self-mockery, is addictive and habit-forming. It is crucial to see what screwed up where. However, focusing on mistakes paralyses you and prevents you from moving forward.
Learn to let go. We have to accept that sometimes the path that we paved for ourselves is not the road we should be taking. Reroute. Refocus. Gather all the lessons from your failure and use it as a reminder of what can be done better as you start your journey again towards succeeding.

9. Ignoring Your Mistakes Completely

While thinking too much of your past mistakes will freeze you up and prevent you from moving on, ploughing through without heeding the consequences of your mistakes can also spell as big a disaster. Failures occur when we fall short of what needs to be done. We need to remember to analyse them, learn important lessons and fix the mistakes before they become cyclical.

10. Possessing A Pessimistic Attitude

In any industry, workplace, or learning environment, competition will always exist. It is easy to feel like there’s someone better, smarter, faster, more innovative, more fun—more anything.

Allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with the things that go against you, rather than focusing on your strong points, will eventually affect the way you work and discourage you.

Being your own cheerleading squad is not always easy, especially when you’re already down and out. Surround yourself with people who will give you their 100% support, take the criticisms and bad reviews, learn from them, and use them as the foundation of a better, mightier you. Inject it into your lifestyle, avoid wallowing over small setbacks, and before you know it, you would have already replaced, “I can’t do it!” to “Done. What’s next?”