5 Mistakes I Made and the Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

For me, the end of the year always includes a review. In a previous blog post, I explained how the goals review looks for me. In addition to reviewing my goals, I look back over the previous year to see how everything went for me. What was accomplished and what went well, and most importantly, what did not go well and the missteps I made.

This year too, I sat down and considered my mistakes, how they impacted my work and life. I learned a lot.

Growth and development are the only ways forward. And this is not just a belief! Experience has taught me that some of my most important lessons came from mistakes and failures.

Is it easy to admit you didn’t perform well? No! Making mistakes and failing is painful, but also human. The value is in what you learn from your mistakes and how you apply it in your life going forward.

You’re terrified of making mistakes! I understand. The majority of people are. This is because they associate mistakes with adverse outcomes. These people fail to recognize that mistakes are valuable life lessons. And what better way to learn something than through experience?

All successful people I know make many mistakes. What they also do is take ownership of their mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities. 

I made a lot of mistakes myself during the last few years. I like to think that I learned something from each of them. Here are 5 mistakes I want to share with you: 

  • I did not plan for the best and worst-case scenario
  • I thought vulnerability made me look weak
  • I believed my work was not creative 
  • I did not set firm boundaries for how I spent my time
  • I did not take enough breaks to recharge

Let me tell you what I’ve learned from them and, hopefully, what you can learn from them as well!

Mistake 1: I did not plan for the best and worst-case scenario

If you’ve been following my blog or reading my posts for a while, you may have noticed that I am a little obsessed with planning. As a result, I set both professional and personal goals every year.

This year was no different. The objectives I set for myself at the start of the year were ambitious! When the year began, I was energized just by the thought of achieving them.

There’s another perspective to which this year was no exception. The context of my business has changed several times during the year. I went through ups and downs. 

What I planned for 2022 was the best-case scenario. When that didn’t go as planned, my only option was to work extremely hard in all aspects of my life to make it happen.

Yes, I could have adjusted my goals mid year. But I decided not to.

What was my take on this mistake?

  1. From a mindset perspective, it’s much easier to plan for the best and worst-case scenarios from the start.
  2. Having options and backups empowers me to take more significant risks and get out of my comfort zone more. 
  3. By comparison, having super ambitious goals with no fallback option is great for focus. However, it prevents me from looking at other potential opportunities that may come up.

Based on this experience, I recommend finding a balance between goals and adopting an adaptive mindset.

Mistake 2: I thought my work was not creative

Another thing that you may have noticed about me is that I am really focused on processes, numbers, and results. I used to think that my work is not creative. And I was wrong!

I realized how wrong I was this year after devoting a significant amount of time to self-discovery. I took time to reflect on my values, who I am, and the story that brought me here.

What was my take on this mistake?

I know now that there is plenty of creativity that I chose to hide behind structure and rigid plans. In fact, much of what I do every day stems from creativity: 

  • Creating systems and structures and adapting them to the business’ needs
  • Problem-solving that often requires a great deal of creativity  
  • Making my own framework for integrating people, processes, and tools with proprietary processes.

The thought that my work is not creative has been a limiting belief of mine for so long. Changing my mindset about this put my entire work in a different light. 

If you also think your work is not creative, take another look at it. Next, allow yourself to constantly discover all the creativity you bring into building your business and leading your teams.

Mistake 3: I avoided vulnerability 

My relation with vulnerability has been non existent on for many years. I was a firm believer that showing any sign of vulnerability meant I was weak.

In the past, I would have never: 

  • Shared when I was going through difficult times
  • Taken time off when I was sick
  • Asked for help when I needed it

What was my take on this mistake?

This year taught me an important lesson about vulnerability. I discovered that everything I thought was a sign of strength was actually a sign of weakness. It’s so easy to hide behind fabricated perfection.

At the same time, being authentic and showing your human side requires strength. According to Brene Brown, it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable while also remaining true to your values.

This has been the most significant learning experience for me this year, and it has already positively impacted all aspects of my work and personal life.

I’m still learning how to be vulnerable, and it’ll probably be a long process. If you’re going through something similar you know what I am talking about.

Mistake 4: I did not set firm boundaries for how I spend my time

This one is about me setting boundaries for… me. Looking back, I noticed some behaviors that were not serving me well. I then decided I needed to set some firm boundaries to prevent this from happening again.

Do you know about the occasional work weekend? I let myself be dragged into it more than once, hoping to advance my projects. How did that work out? By Wednesday, I was already exhausted. The same goes for working late evenings. It might seem like I made progress. However, the cost is much higher. 

What else was impacted by my lack of boundaries?

  • I spent time with people who did not share my values. This drained me of energy. 
  • I said yes to projects without checking if they align to my mission. I ended up overwhelmed. I fell into the fear of missing out trap. 

What’s my take on this mistake?

The most important lesson I learned was that these behaviors eventually cost me valuable time. One of my big themes this year was optimizing how I spend my time to save more for what matters to me.  

This is why I started my Not-To-Do List. It works hand in hand with the To-Do-List and sets the boundaries to support goal driven actions. 

Here are a few items on my Not-To-Do list: 

  • Never act against my values – voluntarily spending time with people who do not share at least some of my values is on this list.
  • Never work late evenings or weekends – allowing my brain to rest properly is one of the best resources for problem-solving. 
  • Never say yes by default to new projects – this prevents me from being the victim of FOMO. I now look at the projects from a value alignment, growth, and financial opportunity before saying yes or no.
  • Don’t let the day go by without learning something new – knowledge, like financial investments, benefits from the compound growth effect. It generates exponential results over time. Time is on your side if you take advantage of the compound growth effect.  

Sometimes, the not-to-do list makes your day more productive than the actual to-do list. If you don’t have one, please make one today.

Mistake 5: I did not take enough breaks to recharge

I frequently hear it from leaders and founders focused on their businesses, and it’s a mistake I also made. I can’t remember the last time I took a full week off to recharge. Of course, I don’t work 365 days a year, but a day here and there is not enough for the brain to disconnect.

I have a strong sense of commitment and loyalty, which led me to believe that I needed to be available to my clients and teams at all times. What if they have issues while I am gone? What if they need me and I am not there? Sounds familiar?

This is how my planned “time off” turns into just another work week. Because I’m trying to fit in relaxing activities around work emergencies, it can be even more stressful than a typical work week. That certainly does not sound like a dream vacation… 

It’s true – issues come up all the time. Still, the reality is that something is rarely critical or cannot be postponed for a few days. 

What’s my take on this mistake?

I discovered that even a few days of complete disconnect significantly impact my ability to handle complex problems and make decisions. 

In fact, taking real vacation time would benefit both my clients and myself. Regardless of how motivated I am, the ideas and solutions I can generate with a rested brain are incomparable to what I can do on a normal day.

One of my goals for the new year is to take more time off. It’s easier said than done, especially after years of making up excuses for not taking time off.

Final thoughts on my mistakes and what I learned

Many of us grew up dreaming of becoming superheroes. But in real life, and especially in business, our super powers are more often than not about balance than about extremes. 

So plan for that worst-case scenario, even if it doesn’t become a reality. Find the creativity in your work, even if this seems impossible. Be courageous enough to be vulnerable while setting healthy boundaries. And last but not least –  take time off only to come back stronger!

Let’s plan for you to avoid the same mistakes

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