Half the battle to being successful is avoiding common mistakes. Making mistakes is a good thing – providing they can teach you something new and refine your approach. As Thomas Edison famously put it, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That is one hundred percent accurate – each mistake can become a milestone, and a lesson, and inform your future work. Common mistakes do none of that – they’re just dead ends, and lessons you could have learned without doing something wrong first. A a key cornerstone of success is to simply avoid common mistakes, and here are tips for how to do exactly that.
Know what they are! This seems so obvious, and yet you’d be surprised how many times someone winds up slapping their forehead and exclaiming “if only I knew!” Some simple research into things would reveal the common mistakes people are making – whether you are looking at message boards, social media, or even the FAQ section of a website, people share the problems they are facing all the time. It isn’t hard to find out what they are, provided you do your homework first. Research, research, research – then research again. Read about what you’re doing, and learn from those who have come before you. You should be able to discover what the pratfalls are. Once you know what you’re trying to avoid, you can plan for how to avoid them.
Find a mentor. When you climb a mountain, you hire a guide. When you tour a historical site, you hire a guide. When you have an important test to take, you buy a study guide. Guides are invaluable when navigating something new. A mentor is a guide; the best part is, you can often find them for free. Whatever project you are taking on, finding a mentor who has been there, done that, and will help you along your journey is imperative to helping you avoid common mistakes. The mentor will know what they are, know how to get around them, and have you marching towards success much quicker than you navigating it on your own.
Keep it simple. The more complicated things are, the more chances there will be that something will be overlooked, left out, done incompetently…or just go wrong. Simple, streamlined, optimized processes keep everything at your fingertips, within oversight. Things don’t really just “go wrong” unless they are going on their own. Manage your processes effectively, lead them, and nothing will go anywhere you aren’t directing it to go.
Plan for the project at hand. You can’t be successful without proper planning. You also can’t make a proper plan without defining what success will be. What are you trying to do? What is the best way to do it? Starting with these two questions will give you clarity – and clarity is a great way to avoid common mistakes. The project defines its own success – you can then craft a plan that will bring you there.
Most importantly: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! This is a way to avoid common mistakes, because it will keep you making new ones. Remember, mistakes can be milestones and lessons, and the catalysts for success. Becoming too timid to experiment and take risks won’t help you avoid common mistakes, it will ensure they’ll be the only kinds of mistakes you can make. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid to fail! You’d be giving up on the best lessons you’ll ever learn.