5 ways to bounce back from any mistake

We all make mistakes. Everyone messes up occasionally, whether on a small scale or a truly monumental one. It’s a fact of life, and it doesn’t always have to be negative in the long run. The writer, James Joyce, once said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” The impact of a mistake can be measured by the lessons it teaches.

If you make a mistake that affects other people – whether physically, emotionally or financially – you’ll want to limit its damage quickly, not only to protect your own reputation but also to lessen the impact on others. Here are five ways we’ve found to bounce back from a mistake as quickly as you can.

1. Take responsibility for your mishap

The first (and possibly most important) thing to do is to be the bigger person. Hold your hands up and say, “Yep, I messed up.” Blaming other people or circumstances won’t win you as much respect from others as if you just own it, and then get to work on fixing it. There’s no use burying your head in the sand and concocting white lies (“Oh, I did send that email – there must be a server issue”). Lies can be seen through and don’t help to fix the issue. Admit that you got it wrong, and see how you can make it right.

2. Say you’re sorry

It might not make the problem go away, but apologising for your mistake can at least show that you care. Apologising is not weakness or a sign that you’re not capable. On the contrary, it shows that you want to be better. So ask how you can do that. An effective apology contains an admission of responsibility (“I admit that it was my fault”) plus the question, “What can I do to help now?”

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself

What’s done is done. At this point, the best course of action is to follow the above advice and learn from your mistake. Try not to dwell over what happened or wish you’d done anything differently. There is little to be gained from having regrets, and worrying is about as good as sitting in a rocking chair – it may give you something to do, but it certainly won’t get you very far! If something is done and dusted, better to use your sense of remorse wisely, and…

4. Learn your lesson

To paraphrase James Joyce, in every mistake lies a lesson. What can you take from your mistake? Is there anything you could do differently if the situation were to come up again? Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. If you don’t take the lessons from your mistake and carry them with you, who’s to say it won’t simply happen again later?

5. Reflect and share

It’s not just you that can learn from a mistake you make – it’s the people around you, too. Reflect on what happened, figure out what went wrong, think about how you can do things differently next time, and then share what you’ve worked out with others. Showing that you’ve taken the time to think something through to that extent is not only a great way of gaining back respect, but also of helping others to not make the very same mistake themselves.


We want to hear from you! Ever done something you later regretted? How did you bounce back? Let us know in the comments below!


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