Five mistakes to beat…before they beat you

Nobody’s perfect.  We all make mistakes.

That’s good.  Without mistakes, we wouldn’t have successes.

But it’s not easy to spot mistakes when they’re based on larger concepts.  The situation may be different each time, but your actions may be the same.  You need to be on your guard.  So, by way of example, here are five issues that aren’t always easy to spot, but which can get in the way of you and a big bag of win:

photo by mao_lini

photo by mao_lini

1. You have too many things going on at once

I’m sure none of us like to miss out on life.  It’s rubbish if you say ‘no’ to everything.

But you don’t have to be available to everyone, for everything, all the time.  Choose to be choosy.  Pick to be picky.  Be selective in which events you wish to attend and limit the number of hobbies you pursue.  That way, you’ll miss out on less, not more.

2. You’re too dependent

Uni is meant to bring out your independence and give you masses of life experience.  But if you’re used to other people clearing up messes and dealing with your problems, it’s hard to change.  Why bother when you know someone else will sort it all out for you?

There will come a point in your life when you will have to do things for yourself.  You may get away with it now, but people will begin to know your game.  You either have to reinvent yourself (which is difficult, even at uni) or find a whole new set of people to annoy (and why would you act that way on purpose?).  The longer you leave it, the worse the fall.

3. You silently sort out other people’s messes

Independence requires an assertive attitude too, otherwise you risk a different type of dependence.  You may think it’s less bother to clear stuff up yourself, but you end up giving yourself more work and getting no further with it.

I knew a group who lived together with a messy housemate who didn’t tidy up and left a trail of rubbish and washing everywhere.  The others ended up doing the cleaning for him (quite literally silently sorting out another person’s mess).  After weeks of this, they eventually plucked up the courage to do something about it.  They politely asked the housemate to deal with the mess, explaining that it wasn’t a group of magic elves cleaning after him…

Good news is, the housemate listened and dealt with the mess.  Over the rest of the year, they fared a lot better with the cleaning (it wasn’t perfect, but hey!).

This kind of confrontation takes guts, even as a team, but it’s more productive in the long run.  It’s better to deal with the source of the problem, rather than the problem itself.

photo by braineater

photo by braineater

4. You do anything else just to ignore the important stuff

Faced with tasks you’d rather not do, your thoughts tend to stray on everything else you need want to do.

We all procrastinate at times.  But for some, the problem spirals out of control.  It can get to the point where you make a conscious, active effort to find other things to do specifically in order to stop thinking about important work.

TheUniversityBlog has a big post about procrastination in the archives.  Stamp down on it before the issue grows.

Heavy procrastination could be masking a deeper rooted problem, such as a dislike of the subject or a tutor.  Be aware of outside issues that may be causing the procrastination, because it’s better to deal with the issues under those circumstances.

5. You put yourself down

“How did I even get to university in the first place?”

Everyone else seems so much better compared to you.  You don’t understand the lectures, you don’t feel skilled enough to join one of the clubs, and you’re a rubbish dancer so don’t go clubbing with your friends.

It’s amazing how many people are down on themselves.  Truly amazing.  Why should anyone think it reasonable to make themselves look worse than they really are?

Even if you believe all this negativity, there’s no point in moping around and feeling even worse! Seek to improve your lot.  Get some study advice and ask your tutor how to get ahead, join a club and learn from others as you go, take a night out with your mates and watch how practically none of us can dance!

Find a motto

As I said at the start of this post, it’s not easy to spot mistakes when they’re not isolated one-offs.  Once a pattern emerges and you discover an area you’d like to improve upon, sometimes all it takes is a motto.

For instance, my ‘motto of the moment’ is:

“Know when to stop.”

I’m surprised how much it helps to remember those four words.  It’s the anchor I use to improve.  I say it in my head and allow it to refocus my thoughts.  Over time, I’ve had to remind myself less because knowing when to stop becomes a natural part of what I consider.

This isn’t a quick fix, but it is a quick snap to jolt you in the right direction.  What would you give as your ‘motto of the moment’?

photo by Kyle Kesselring

photo by Kyle Kesselring


  1. mistakes are life’s greatest means to teach us. we grow when we make mistakes but that does not mean we can be careless. Great listing. another mistake i think should be there is the mistake of being afraid of failure. ciao!

  2. “You need to be on your guard.”

    I’ve found this to be very prudent advice for almost anything. Having a conscious state of mind helps give you a broader perspective on the bigger picture, therefore helping you avoid daily mistakes.

    It seems I’ve slipped into subconscious mode lately and forgotten some of these simple tips… I can’t remember the last night I got more than four hours of sleep. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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