Give Yourself Permission to Screw Up

Thomas Oppong
Sep 21, 2017 · 5 min read

Millions of people are obsessed with perfection. This obsession makes it difficult to make a decision without wasting too much time analyzing every detail. Don’t get me wrong, it pays to get things right.

But when you can’t launch any idea, because you don’t have the perfect one yet, or you can’t show your work to the rest of us because you haven’t perfected the product or service yet, something is wrong.

George Bernard Shaw sums it perfectly, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

You will make mistakes, hurt others and get hurt. Big ones, little ones, ones you can fix and others you can’t. Seriously. You’re going to mess up at some point no matter how proactive you are — it’s inevitable.

Unless…you do nothing.

So, stop chasing perfection.

Screwing-up is part of life and success… the more, the better (within reason). Dreams and long-term goals in life and business require risk. It’s hard to achieve something worthwhile when you play it safe.

Push the boundaries and be prepared to start over.

Jason Zook explains, “By chasing the perfect anything, you’re essentially riding a Ferris wheel. As soon as you think you’ve reached the end, a new set of ‘problems’ arise and you continue going around in a never-ending circle. Instead of going around and around, focus on creating and trusting the path you create for yourself. The one you won’t be able to see laid out perfectly in front of you.”

Done is better than perfect

The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. Give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.

You will screw up in the process but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake or making a wrong choice. It will only lead to self-destructive behavior.

It’s okay to screw up as long as you are willing to try again. Non- conformists and originals screw up a lot. But they move on, knowing that at some point, the breakthrough will happen.

No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.

We learn, grow and shift

Our minds are a bit funny, full of cognitive biases that have been shaped over time by experiences, events, and memories.

Over time, your beliefs can cause your brains to draw false conclusions about life that affects the way you think, and the decisions you make.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes, “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

You don’t always need the perfect plan. Sometimes you just need to give it a try, let go, and see what happens. That’s courage.

Action begets outcome. Outcome begets action. Rinse, lather and repeat and you have momentum. You’ll become unstoppable.

You have more than one shot

I have screwed up many, many times in the past, but I have moved on. You’re going to make your own, and that’s okay so long as you learn from them and figure out a different path towards the same goal.

Amelia Earhart, once said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

The biggest screw up you can make is to just give up and accept that you can’t succeed because of you who you are or where you come from. If you are going through hell, don’t stop. And if you catch hell, don’t hold it.

Give yourself permission to start over

When you follow your own true north you create new opportunities, have different experiences and create a different life.

Make no mistake. The world is waiting for you. Waiting for you to stop asking for permission. Waiting for you to pick yourself up and start over. To stop questioning yourself.

Waiting for you to start again.

Waiting for you to share your ideas and creativity. You are the only one who can push yourself that further to just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it matters that you start.

Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning argues Robert Kiyosaki.

Screwing up does not mean you will never, ever be successful. Trying and failing is better than doing nothing. Making a mistake will not irreparably damage your credibility or reputation.

Remember, being completely terrible at something is the first step to being pretty darm good at it.

Heidi Grant Halvorson (Social psychologist at Columbia’s Motivation Science Center, speaker, contributor for HBR, Fast Company, Forbes, 99u and author of No One Understands You and What to do About it, recommendations the following steps to shifting your mindset, and freeing yourself from the fear of mistakes:

Step 1: Begin a new project by explicitly acknowledging what is difficult and unfamiliar, and accepting that you will need some time to really get a handle on it. You may make some mistakes, and that’s ok. That’s how ability works — it develops. (Repeat this to yourself as often as needed.)

Step 2: Reach out to others when you run into trouble. Too often, we hide our mistakes, rather than sharing them with those who could give us guidance. Mistakes don’t make you look foolish — but acting like you are a born expert on everything certainly, will.

Step 3: Try not to compare your own performance to other people’s (I know this is hard, but try.) Instead, compare your performance today to your performance last week, last month, or last year. You may make mistakes, you may not be perfect, but are you improving? That’s the only question that matters.

It’s okay to screw up, just don’t give up!

Before you go…

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly (my free digest of the best productivity and self-improvement posts). Subscribe and get a free copy of my new eBook, “The Power of One Percent Better: Small Gains, Maximum Results”. Join over 30,000 people who are on a mission to build a better life.

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Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder @AllTopStartups | Contributor at Business Insider. I share tools for wealth, health and happiness at

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder @AllTopStartups | Contributor at Business Insider. I share tools for wealth, health and happiness at

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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