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Navigating Bad Decisions

Last updated January 2, 2020

Ever make a choice that turned out to be the wrong one? Who hasn’t? We’ve all made decisions we regret later. Most of these are small - we skip class, talk back to a supervisor, or show up late for our shift at work. But some are big - not enrolling in school, breaking the law, intentionally hurting another. Whatever the case, you can recover from a bad decision and emerge stronger, smarter and more resilient. 

Name the bad decision 

Be explicit with yourself about where you went wrong. We can only fix what we know - so name the bad decision or choice that you made.

Understand the ‘why’ 

Try to come up with the 1-3 reasons why you made that choice. What kind of mood or state of mind were you in when you made the decision? What good did you think would happen? Understanding your behavior and thoughts that lead to a bad choice will make it easier to not repeat it.

Own it & apologize 

Take full responsibility for the bad decision. Say it out loud to yourself, write it down, and if your decision negatively affected others - apologize to them. Taking ownership will make step five - moving on - possible.

Learn 

Every challenge is an opportunity, and a bad decision gives you a chance to learn from your mistake. Think about 1-3 things that you learned from this stumble - do you need to take time to think through decisions more fully? Do you need to get advice from a friend, family or coworker next time? Should you always ‘sleep on it’ and revisit the choices tomorrow?

Move on 

Next to owning your bad decision, your ability to move on is most important. Remember that we all make bad decisions and owning and learning from them allows us to keep going. Don’t linger with the negative feelings or beat yourself up, decide to do better the next time and look forward knowing that you are stronger and smarter! 

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