I am a paralegal.
I am also a young law student juggling work and study (and life) so that means I am prone to making mistakes – small mistakes like spelling errors and big mistakes which, when they occur, I mull over in the subsequent weeks. I’ve come to learn that the latter is essentially self-sabotage and for a while only trapped me into making more mistakes.
Ever since the big mistake, I entered a phase of self doubt. I was having a rough few weeks internally and it poured out over my work like emotional vomit (sorry…too early in the day?) making it unrecognisable to the team in the office who had been rooting for me since the beginning. Every time I would try to start the day with ‘I will make no mistakes today’ I would end up making five more than the day before.
I thought to myself maybe this is just a phase, maybe this is a just a bout of bad luck, maybe it’s because mercury is in retrograde. But more often than not, I’ve come to realise it is usually something more significant than that. In my efforts to find a solution and if not that then simply some comfort, I reached out to a few GV alumni who not too long ago had been sitting in the same hot spot as me and they offered some helpful advice. Here is what I learnt:
- Your capacity to make mistakes does not render you terrible, incapable or disappointing – it makes you human;
- Do not continue to focus on the mistake. Tell someone what happened if no one knows yet and if the situation allows, figure out a solution to fix the mistake as soon as you can;
- Learn from the mistake. Understand where you went wrong and then implement changes to make sure it never happens again.
- Accept the simple fact that everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days (did I mention one of my sources was Hannah Montana?)
- Talking to people who have been in a similar situation to you will help with processing the guilt;
- Reflect back on your previous work and explore why the quality has taken an adverse turn.
With mindfulness mornings introduced to the GV work culture, I took a few days to begin reflecting on myself and my environment and what mindfulness looked like to me when it came time to practicing it and how it could help change some of my processes in the office.
I realised that the source of a mistake is most of the time more than just mere carelessness, especially when it does not in any way align with your usual quality of work. The big mistake occurred during a time where my days were blurring together. One day started as the other ended in the exact same way that, without even knowing, I had shifted into auto pilot. For that period, I was no longer an active participant of life. Sounds dramatic but the feeling is subtle and we all slip in and out of this phase.
And so, in small ways I decided to engage back in and review my mindfulness practices both at work and at home.
I decided to look at my week and the things I wanted to do that I had never got around to. We are clinging onto the last days of warmth and sunshine and I have been lingering for weeks on this desire to go outside, to a park or a beach, with a picnic blanket and spend the day with a good book or some paints. Yesterday was the first day I decided to do just that. I sat in a shady green spot with perfect views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House on a $2 picnic blanket I had bought that morning, an iced coffee from a coffee shop that was growing impressive locks of pothos, Parisian jazz and a good book.
By lunch time I had to retire the whole event for other errands but even so I had realised that when I pour meaning into moments and action the exciting, selfish, calming things I want to do in my head then each day becomes its own again and as a person I become present.
And so, along with the helpful teachings from my learned GV alumni, I’ve learnt that what forms part of the algorithm of success is feeling a sense of consistent fulfillment. It doesn’t take climbing a mountain to get there, we can achieve this through the smallest and simplest activities that align with our desires and our day dreams. A picnic for myself and I’ve become an active participant of life again – one who can spot her mistakes before she makes them.