How To Learn From Your Mistakes and Achieve Better Results

Updated February 3, 2023

Making mistakes can be a valuable learning opportunity. You can find lessons from your mistakes that can help you improve your skills and expand your knowledge. Learning how to build trust with your employer and colleagues can be useful to learn how to handle mistakes. 

In this article, we discuss the importance of learning from your mistakes and provide steps for learning from the mistakes you make.

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Why is it important to learn from mistakes?

Making mistakes at work can be inevitable, but it can also be a valuable growth experience. Everyone is likely to make a mistake at some point, whether it's forgetting to send an email or missing a deadline, but you can turn a mistake into a positive situation by using it as an opportunity to learn and become better at your job by not making the same mistakes again.

Showing that you've learned from your mistakes can also increase your employer's trust in you and prove that you are willing to put effort into improving yourself. Additionally, learning from your mistakes and viewing them as positive experiences can help increase your confidence and free you from the fear of failure.

Related: Overcoming the Fear of Making a Mistake at Work

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How to learn from your mistakes

Here are eight steps for turning your mistakes into lessons:

1. Acknowledge your mistakes

When you make a mistake, try to admit it as soon as you can, and apologize if necessary. Making an effort to apologize for a mistake can show that you respect the people who have been affected by the mistake. Apologizing can also show that you regret your mistake, that you are willing to take responsibility for it and that you're using it as an opportunity to improve yourself.

Related: How To Apologize Professionally for a Mistake (With Examples)

2. Analyze your mistakes

Think about what caused the mistake and how you resolved it and note things that you did well or poorly. Analyzing and understanding your mistake can help you determine what you can do differently to ensure that the mistake does not happen again. It can also help you identify solutions for future mistakes.

For example, if you forgot to send an important email, you could determine that you made this mistake because you didn't add sending the email to your to-do list. You could then write all of your upcoming tasks in your planner.

Related: 5 Steps To Take After Making a Mistake at Work

3. Get feedback

You might also find it helpful to get feedback from the people around you, such as your supervisor or coworkers. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas you can improve to be better at your job. You can also ask mentors for advice on addressing your mistakes.

For example, if you've made a mistake that you don't know how to solve, you can contact a mentor who used to have your job and ask them how they handled various situations. This can give you valuable insight into your job and how to approach mistakes and difficult situations.

Related: 7 Ways To Respond After Messing up at Work

4. Find lessons

A key step in learning from your mistakes is finding lessons in your mistakes. For example, maybe a mistake taught you something that you didn't know before. A mistake could also show you where you can improve your skills. Picking out the lessons you've learned from a mistake can help you improve yourself and your work.

For example, running late to an important meeting can show you that you may want to improve your time management skills. Missing a project deadline may show you that you may want to set more realistic goals.

Related: 7 Life Lessons You Can Learn at Work

5. Make a plan to apply lessons

Determine how you can avoid making the same mistake again, and consider communicating your plan to your supervisor. You can also think of habits and routines to improve your work and avoid making the same mistake. Your plan can be flexible and include specific actions you can take. It can also include resources and a guide detailing what to do if you begin to make the same mistake.

For example, if you made the mistake of forgetting about an important deadline, you could create a system to help you keep track of all of your deadlines. An online calendar could alert you to upcoming deadlines as they approach to ensure that you don't forget a deadline again.

Related: Learn From Failure: Strategies, Benefits and Helpful Tips

6. Teach others what you've learned

You can also consider telling other people in similar roles the lessons you've learned so that they can learn from your mistake. This can help avoid the same mistake occurring repeatedly in your workplace, and it can help you build relationships with your colleagues. Additionally, teaching others what you've learned can help solidify lessons in your memory.

For example, if you made a mistake calculating a figure on a financial statement, you could show your coworkers in the same job where you made the mistake and how they can avoid it. Doing this can also make the workplace more efficient and productive.

Related: How To Be a Great Coworker

7. Reflect on your progress

Reflecting on your improvement can also help you view mistakes positively as growth opportunities. You can evaluate how you've applied lessons to your life, including how you've stuck to habits. You can also think of mistakes that you continue to make to identify where you still can improve. Consider reflecting by writing in a journal or talking to someone you trust.

Related: How To Apologize to Your Boss for a Mistake in the Workplace

8. Keep a learning mindset

Having a learning mindset is thinking of yourself as constantly learning. Keeping a learning mindset can help you view mistakes as lessons and growth opportunities rather than failures. Instead of dwelling on mistakes you've made, think of them as positive experiences that have helped you grow and improve.

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