10 Ways To Avoid Mistakes – Some Secret Mistakes Last A Lifetime

by Sherry Riter in Choice,Lessons of Life,Motivation,Self-Development  

large evergreen bush with berries 2

A secret mistake is still a mistake.

Mistake” as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is “An error or fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.”

I’m pretty sure that none of us wake up in the morning and say, “I can’t wait to make a mistake today!” That would surely be a ludicrous attitude. I don’t like making mistakes which is compounded by my perfectionist attitude. Actually, I try to avoid mistakes mainly because I don’t like to suffer bad consequences.

large evergreen branch with berries

My Secret Mistake Will Last A Lifetime

I’m going to share with you a mistake that I made a long time ago. It was an error in judgement caused by curiosity and my lack of knowledge. Remember, knowledge is something that you KNOW, not just something that you have been told or suspect.

This isn’t an earth shattering mistake, but it reveals several things about me, life and consequences. I remember this happened before I started first grade, so I was a about five or six years old. In our yard there were some evergreen bushes similar to the one in the photos in this post. The only difference was that the bush in our yard had sharp needles on the ends of each little stem.

I love the little greenish aqua berries on the evergreen bush. I would toss them across the yard to see how far they would go, but they never went as far as my dad could throw them. I also pretended that the berries were peas, so I used them with my little tea set and dishes while I played “house.”

evergreen bush berries in hand

Much like my experience with the hot iron, my curiosity got the best of me. Many times while picking the berries, the sharp needles had pricked my fingers, so I knew that the evergreen could be painful. However, while standing in front of the evergreen bush one day, I picked off the end of one of the flimsy branches, chose a spot on my hand and pretended to give myself a “vaccination” shot.

I know it sounds stupid.

This experience wouldn’t have been so bad except that I didn’t simply stick myself. I actually ground the ends into my skin as I gave myself this imaginary vaccination. It hurt so badly and when I was finished, I wondered why in the world I did such a stupid thing because my hand was bleeding.

Because I felt that it was a really dumb way to incur an injury, I never told my mother what I had done. Actually, she will find out about my evergreen bush experience for the first time when she reads this story. It was my secret, stupid mistake and I now bear a scar on my hand from the experience.

small white scar on hand

As I got older, my skin stretched and the scar got bigger and bigger. So I ended up with a much larger scar than I had when I was just a child. This scar has been on my hand for over forty years now and it will still be there until the day I die.

Sticking myself with the evergreen needle was a mistake – just a slight mistake made by a lack of knowledge and too much curiosity. However, because of that mistake, my hand has a scar that won’t ever go away. I can’t go back and correct my mistake. Nope. Some mistakes can’t ever be fully corrected.

small white scar on hand 2

How To Avoid Mistakes

Although we can learn from our mistakes, it is possible to avoid many of them. I mean, if we can learn a great lesson without making a mistake, wouldn’t that be much better? There are a few things we can do to avoid mistakes and some of them are rather obvious. So here are the top 10 ways to avoid mistakes:

  1. Follow the advice of someone who has lived through the same experience
  2. Don’t succumb to peer pressure
  3. Be unselfish in all dealings with your fellow man
  4. Obtain knowledge before acting
  5. Be humble enough to admit your lack of experience
  6. Get rid of the pompous, arrogant pride
  7. Focus on your goals
  8. Think about the consequences of your actions
  9. Keep things in perspective
  10. Don’t rationalize

There is no way to completely avoid making any mistakes. No matter how much of a perfectionist you claim to be, there will still be times in your life that you choose unwisely. Once you make one of those mistakes, it is best if you just admit that it was a mistake, understand why you made the mistake and then never choose to make the same mistake again.

large evergreen bush with berries

I can promise you that I never pretended to give myself a shot in the hand again, nor will I ever do it again. That experience had a profound influence on me. Every time I see an evergreen bush, I remember this silly thing I did as a child. Even more than that, whenever I see that tiny little scar on my hand, I am reminded that my choices will affect my future. No matter how “secret” my mistakes and choices may be, they will forever change my present and future experiences, choices and opportunities. Honestly, I couldn’t have gotten a scar in a better place because I see that scar every day. Yep, every single day since my early childhood.

Choices. Actions. Consequences. All represented in one tiny scar.

small white scar on hand 3

What has been the best thing that you’ve learned after making a mistake?


This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa June 3, 2012 at 5:54 am

The best thing I’ve learned through making mistakes is to move on. If you dwell on them you cannot go forward. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes because you are in such fear of making another. You also have to forgive yourself for your mistakes. I love your point #6 – you have to lose your pride to move on too.


2 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 11:17 am

Great points. Forgiving oneself is vital to moving on!


3 Skip_D June 3, 2012 at 6:48 am

Look before you leap.
Curiosity killed the cat.
Once bitten, twice shy.
Measure seven times, cut once.
A fool and his money are soon parted.

These are a few of the many aphorisms that are intended to impart wisdom, & prevent mistakes. Unfortunately, most people, especially children & young people, don’t learn from aphorisms. They learn, if at all, from experience. If they’re lucky, the experience will impart wisdom that far transcends the particular mistake that transmitted the lesson.

It’s a sad truth that intelligence & wisdom are very different. Very bright people often have great curiosity, which frequently leads to a teaching moment – that is, a mistake, very likely a real silly one.

Probably the best thing I’ve learned from making mistakes is how prone I am to making them! I can’t say that it has kept me from making mistakes, but hopefully I’m making fewer really stupid, really serious ones. Your story, as well as the one about the iron, are very poignant, & very familiar. Your list is a good one, but I notice that it doesn’t include “don’t be curious!” Sometimes, we just can’t help letting curiosity get the better of us. At least that leads to yet another “teaching moment!” 😀


4 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm


You said, “Unfortunately, most people, especially children & young people, don’t learn from aphorisms” and I couldn’t agree with you more. I have found that most people won’t listen to advice/experience and plow on straight to a mistake. It is very baffling to me.

One of the things I did as a teenager and young adult was visit nursing homes. I would sit and listen to one story after the next from the residents. I didn’t really need to say much because they just wanted to talk to a willing listener. However, I learned so much from them! Many things they said I took to heart and I think it helped me avoid many mistakes and in some ways, changed my life for the good. So if I take other people’s lives as examples, why do so many other people not want to do it too? Yeah, I remain baffled!

I REALLY don’t like consequences from mistakes I’ve made, so I try hard to avoid them by not being too stupid. I’m not immune to stupidity though and that has led to a teaching moments. 😉

Thanks for your thoughtful comment!


5 Susanne June 3, 2012 at 7:53 am

Today’s post really resonates with me. I may be the wrong person to ask what is the best thing I have learned. Because I have made so many large mistakes, decision making is somewhat crippling. Unfortunately, my mistakes have taught me to try to avoid making any decisions. I justify this line of thinking by pointing out my long and less than successful track record in the game of life. Dealing with it in this way, is not good or healthy and nor does it lead to happiness. Fear of making another weighs as heavily as a trunk strapped to my back. The consequences of my mistakes, I am obsessed by them. Having just said all of that..I like your list. My hope is that someday I will have the resolve to make changes, based on your suggestions and not out of “what if”? Too deep for a Sunday morning..lol.


6 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm


“Fear of making another weighs as heavily as a trunk strapped to my back.” I KNOW EXACTLY how you feel! It’s terrible that even when I try to avoid making a decision, it is still a decision! There is really no way to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich! Believe me because I’ve tried desperately to just avoid making any decision at all many times in my life. Several times, it was almost fatal, so I can feel for you because it is very easy for me to become obsessed with the consequences of my mistakes too. I tell myself that I am wallowing in them like a pig does in the mud. If I start thinking of myself as a pig in the mud, it kinda helps me get out of the funk. I hope your vision of me as a pig in the mud gave you smile. 😉


7 Caron Rider June 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

I remember those berries well as I used to play with them too. Great advice for avoiding mistakes! 🙂


8 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks Caron!


9 Meredith Allison June 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I commented 3 times and 3 times I deleted my comments. This post just resonated so strongly with me that I started rambling on about my own childhood ‘mistakes’ and ‘scars’.. I won’t try and put it into words a 4th time (believe me I’m sparing you, Ha). I just want to thank you for this post as it really has me reflecting on some mistakes I’ve made and how my own child may be feeling when he too makes the inevitable mistake. Thank you for sharing this with us 🙂


10 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm

You’re very welcome, Meredith. We all have those mistakes and scars because we are human. You know, even though you erased your comments 3 times, just writing it down has helped you more than you realize. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. {{{hugssss}}}


11 LisaAnn June 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hey Redhead, and thanks so much for taking the time to visit me and leave such thoughtful, encouraging comments on my blog. And I’m sorry about the Twitter incident; I was thinking you were a Twitter robot, and you clearly aren’t. (Ha! See, I make mistakes, too!)

The good news is, I’m really thankful you took the time to prove me wrong, and I’m stoked to be a new follower. I look forward to reading your posts! 🙂


12 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

LOL Thank you for giving me a chuckle! Sometimes I feel like a robot especially when my daughter tries to boss me around! LOL Thanks for visiting today and I’m happy to have you as a new follower! Welcome!


13 mom June 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Well , Sherry, dang!! It is obvious that one of my mistake was not watching my child close enough that she gave herself a shot of cedar serum!!!! Do not ever get on me about the dumb things I do or things that happen to me ever again. lol How many more of those little secrets are stored under that red mop of curls?



14 The Redhead Riter June 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm

LOL LOL LOL Mom!!! You watched me plenty, but you couldn’t watch me EVERY second! LOL Well, I’m not admitting any more secrets today, but there are still a few. I will have to speckle them in here and there. LOL


15 Trish K June 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Never regret anything, because at one time it was exactly what you wanted. 🙂


16 The Redhead Riter June 4, 2012 at 1:07 am

LOL That’s very true and hopefully, if it wasn’t good for us, we don’t repeat it again. 😉


17 Dee June 4, 2012 at 1:31 am

Thanks for this post. It came at a perfect timing in my life.


18 The Redhead Riter June 4, 2012 at 3:22 am

You’re very welcome, Dee. {{{hugssss}}}


19 Susanne June 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

Lol! Oink, Oink..I am standing right next to you. Too funny. I thought of you yesterday as I was reading the Ideas and Books Section of the June 3rd issue of the Boston Globe. There was a great article entitled, “Who Will Get PTSD?” By Paul Kix. Caption reads, Researchers are trying to predict one of war’s most predictable tragedies. But how we should use that information is anything but clear. Excerpt: What will the military do with Telch’s studies? Officials declined requests for comments, but it’s already clear what issues might arise as doctors get better at predicting who is more susceptible to psychological trauma. If you are interested in reading the entire article, I would imagine that you can access it online. It’s a worthwhile read and a really pathetic last paragraph. On that note, I’ll let you go. Have the best day you can.


20 The Redhead Riter June 5, 2012 at 2:06 am

I am definitely going to look up that article, Susanne. Thanks for telling me about it. I especially want to read the last paragraph since you said it was pathetic. LOL


21 Susanne June 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Anytime anyone ends a thought or in this instance some substantial research with the statement, __________ (insert noun) can’t go looking for a secret bullet. I throw my hands up in the air and say, why not? However, we are ensuring that we make it to Mars and are able to sell tickets for flights to the moon for bazilliones of dollars. Hello…priorities??? Sheesh!..lol


22 The Redhead Riter June 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I found the article, but it is kinda long so I will have to read it this weekend.


23 M.L. Guida June 5, 2012 at 8:40 am

What a great story! The biggest lesson I have learned from mistakes is to ownership. Even at work, I own what I’ve done and do not blame others. What is the point? Yes, I did it and I’ll take the consequence, which is usually less painful than if I had lied or denied my mistake.


24 The Redhead Riter June 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

You’re right. What is the point in not fessing up because in the end, everyone is going to find out anyway. Great lesson learned!


Leave a Comment

"How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment
when we realize we have discovered a friend."

~William E. Rothschild~

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
I respond back to all comments.


Previous post:

Next post: