How to deal with making mistakes

How to deal with making mistakes

Talia

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A bit of background - my current job is a remote job, the second job I've ever had (the first was a pizza place employee), and is less than even a junior developer or designer. I occasionally get design and development (by development I mean CSS exclusively) projects, but a lot of my time is spent doing basic updates for WordPress sites, following procedures, and other low-skill tasks. (I will try to get a better job sooner rather than later, but for the purposes of this post that's a moot point.) I also do a currently very small amount of freelancing work on the side.

Because my day job is usually fairly easy in terms of the work itself (though not always, and it has its frustrations too), I feel like I don't make mistakes very often. But when I do, despite the fact that I'm not very emotionally invested in this job, the mistakes are usually small, and there are usually almost no repercussions, I may still get upset, sometimes very significantly. This is true for the small amount of side work I do too (and for non-work related things, for that matter).

I know that this is mostly because of my own mental health issues, which I'm getting professional help for. But I'm just wondering if anyone has suggestions for dealing with making mistakes, because this makes me worried about my future, since I know it will be hard for me to succeed in my career (or anything, really) if making even a completely inconsequential mistake messes me up so badly. If I can't even deal with small mistakes, how will I be able to deal with big ones?

 

avena

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This may sound like a cliche, but I think making mistakes is part of our lives.

Try to not be too hard on yourself. Mistakes are experiences, and these experiences allow you to grow as a person and as a professional

If you feel like you need help, try to reach your family/friends or as you said, ask for professional help, there is no shame in that and it may be a wonderful and life-changing experience.

Tech-related careers are often hard and you may come across people that never say thanks but always scold you and say bad things; if that's the case, try to move away from these people as soon as possible, it is not wordy of your time. There are many wonderful people out there to work with!

Sharing with the world your worries, ideas, and opinions –like you are doing right now– is a good thing!

Looking forward to seeing your work! 🤘

PS: I said of all of that with a Yoda voice XD

 
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Pandemix

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Recognize that your skills and abilities brought you to a position where making mistakes is a possibility and let that embolden you. Just like the hero in any story you have trials to push through—both inwards and outer—to get to the next advantage point.

This is the narrative in my head on a daily basis

 

UnitPrice.org

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When I make mistakes on projects or work-related matters, I try to put things in perspective. Nobody died, nobody lost their home. The end result was very inconsequential. It seemed like a big deal to me, but it had no lasting impact on anyone else, and they may not have even noticed!

As a bonus, you probably won’t make these small mistakes ever again! So you’re improving all the time.

 

Adam

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When I make mistakes on projects or work-related matters, I try to put things in perspective. Nobody died, nobody lost their home. The end result was very inconsequential. It seemed like a big deal to me, but it had no lasting impact on anyone else, and they may not have even noticed!
Took the words right out my mouth (fingers?). I think I would have been more worried about mistakes at the pizza place. Nobody is getting food poisoning or a ruined meal from a CSS slip-up. 😄

There's nobody on this earth that never makes mistakes and one of the things about coding is that perhaps in a small 1,000 line CSS file there is 1,000 opportunities (and more!) to make a small mistake let alone all of the different things it has to interact with. It reminds me of this XKCD comic:


I think feeling bad is a common sentiment among coders/programmers. It comes with its own set of challenges compared to working in the physical world and even though it can be made to feel 'easy' with the learn to code movement and all the tutorials and fancy dev tools its worth remembering that excluding the WordPress core just a custom theme alone has likely upwards of 5,000 lines of code. Even a 99.9% accuracy rate is going to fail ~5 times with that volume. 😋

Don't be too hard on yourself and try and believe the only impact mistakes are going to have on your future is a positive one as a learning experience.

That being said, if you find yourself worrying or panicking a lot about small mistakes, then I can sympathise. I suffer from chronic anxiety and although not so bad recently it has taken a severe toll on work before. It will be worth working on this with your professional if it's really affecting your productivity. 🙂

 
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ek1

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I struggle with this too. To add to the great advice already in this thread: my main weapon against my impostor syndrome is, "get over yourself". The work we do is hard, there's a lot to remember and a lot that can go wrong, and it's unrealistic to expect it to go perfectly, especially the first time. You may be smart, but NOBODY is that smart.
And your coworkers aren't that smart either! Just more experienced. The biggest mistake one can make is to never do anything because they're afraid of fucking up. Never venturing outside your comfort zone = guaranteeing you never grow.

 

Gummibeer

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I can tell you that you will do a significant mistake at least once in your career! 😉
Most/all of today's seniors, leads and so on have delete the production database, whole server or messed up a major core product feature.
These stories are what let you use features like colored windows depending on environment and add users with limited rights which are enough for your day job but prevent you from deleting the whole server.^^

And as long as your mistake doesn't make it into a hospital: who cares!?
And even if your boss will cry and blame you, next day will be fine again because he knows that we are all humans and mistakes happen.

What I can recommend you is: be honest from.first second.
The moment you recognize your mistake you should report it and don't try to hide. This requires courage but this is what will give your colleagues and boss still a good feeling. There's nothing worse than anyone trying to hide his mistakes. Primary because most times they get worse over time.

 

LividJay

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My response will likely sound like the others you've read so far. Mistakes are definitely a part of life. How do we improve ourselves if we don't first see what isn't working well? An important thing to do is, once you've identified that you made a mistake, instead of dwelling on it look at why you made that mistake and how you can avoid making it again in the future.

In fact, after 15 + professional years in the industry, I still make mistakes. I made one last week when I wanted to install updates on our production database server. I was trying to stay ahead of our security requirements, but it was during business hours and we had a little downtime because it temporarily took our SQL Server service down. I thought it was just going to download and install, and then finish later once I could get a chance to reboot. whoops

On top of that, sometimes I make small mistakes over things that should have been obvious, but with my state of mind and everything I had going on, I didn't think it through and one of my team members had to correct me.

The bottom line is that you are going to make more mistakes over the course of your career. Giving yourself a little grief is healthy, in my opinion, because it shows you care, but you really shouldn't beat yourself up about it too much.

 
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