No blame. No excuses. Our choices either lead to desired results or they lead to undesired results. This is the way your Inner Guide sees it.
Everyone makes mistakes, but Victims repeat theirs. Over and over. Worse, they often judge themselves for having made the mistake or they judge others for having caused them to make the mistake.
By contrast, Creators learn from their mistakes. As a result, they seldom repeat them. Also, they resist judging themselves or others for their mistakes.
The following choice evaluation process can help you profit from past mistakes. To illustrate the five-step process, let's look at how it helped a student named Tina. Tina was a twenty-three-year-old wife and mother who dreamed of becoming a buyer in the fashion industry. To achieve her dream, she needed a college degree.
Step 1: What Choice Did I Make That Got Me Off Course?
"I've missed my night class two weeks in a row," Tina acknowledged.
Step 2: What Did I Make More Important Than Taking a Step Toward My Goals and Dreams?
"I waited until my husband came home from work so he could take care of our baby. When he works overtime, he doesn't get home in time for me to get to school. Surely you don't expect me to make this class more important than my baby?"
"So," I said, ignoring Tina's Inner Defender, "last Monday, you made taking care of your baby until your husband got home more important than coming to class."
Step 3: What Other Choices Could I Have Made?
"I didn't have any other choice."
"I understand that at this moment you don't see another choice. But if you were able to see another choice, what would it be?"
"Well, maybe I could have brought my baby to class," Tina said, her Inner Guide starting to cooperate.
"Great. That's one option. What else?"
"I could have asked the day care center to keep my baby later than usual. I already know they don't want any kids there after 5:30, but maybe they would have made an exception just this once. Or, I could...." She paused.
"Well, my sister has a baby, too. She's not working or going to school right now, and she lives near me. Maybe she would have watched the baby until my husband got home. I could watch her baby when she wants to go out on the weekend."
"Great! So you did have other options. You could have brought your baby to school, you could have asked the day care center to keep your baby later, and you could have asked your sister to watch your baby until your husband got home."
"I like the last one. My baby will be fine with my sister."
"So, it looks like missing class was a mistake. After all, you did have other choices that would have moved you toward your goals."
Step 4: Is My Original Choice Part of a Pattern in My Life?
"Well, I guess it is. I don't like to ask other people for help."
"And you don't ask other people for help because...?"
"I guess because I'm afraid they'll say no."
"It sounds as though you make avoiding rejection more important than getting help and getting what you want. Is that right?"
"I guess I do."
Step 5: What Did I Learn?
"I learned that I don't have to miss class so often," Tina said. "I learned that I can ask my sister to baby-sit. Also, I have more choices than I thought I did. I learned that I don't always have to choose between taking care of my baby and getting my degree."
"Great. Anything else?"
"Sometimes I don't ask for things because I'm afraid of being rejected."
"Great. Anything else?"
"Nope. I think that's it."
Now, you may not have a baby as Tina did. And you may not be missing classes, either. But if you're making choices that lead you away from your dream when better choices exist, you're making mistakes, too.