How Mistakes Help Us Grow

I am a pretty new writer. I have always loved to write and now I do so more often than I ever have in the past. I am still just an infant though, and I read all sorts of “improve your writing” articles and websites because I know I am not as good a writer as some that have been in the writing game for years. I am still on my first year.

Something I have a real problem with is self editing. When I first started writing this blog, it would take me close to five hours to finish an article. My articles were a bit longer than they are now, and I only posted a few times a week but even now, my shorter articles still take nearly two hours to finish.

Why? Because I self edit everything as I go. I will write a sentence once, change it, erase the whole thing and start over, without ever completing an idea! Some posts that I have self edited so much still sit in my drafts folder because the idea got so self edited out of itself that I lost the whole reason, the inspiration behind the post idea.

This morning I was reading a post about self editing by one of the leaders in copywriting tips, Copyblogger. Here is what the article said about self editing:

Writing articles drives us crazy. Our natural tendency to self-edit gets out of hand. We can’t seem to put it on hold, even for a few minutes

And the reason for that is our lack of competency.

Competency is a state of mind you reach when you’ve made enough mistakes that your brain can now move on.

That’s right. It’s not about getting things right in your brain — it’s about getting things wrong. The brain has to make hundreds, even thousands of mistakes — and overcome those mistakes — to be able to reach a level of competency.

After reading and thinking about self editing for a few minutes, I thought, that’s the same thing we do with Personal Finance and apparently for the same reason.

When I first got into personal finance, I had a hard time setting something up and sticking to it, just like everyone else. Creating a budget really helps as training wheels to get started but even then, it’s hard to not falter here and there. I still make mistakes that are so stupid, I feel bad just talking about them but they are necessary.

Our brains need to make mistakes to develop competency.

Making mistakes teaches our brain how to fix those mistakes next time the situation to make them arises, before we make them again.

We will never stop making mistakes, just like our brains never stop learning. There will be situations we have never encountered before, that aren’t even remotely like situations we have encountered that helped us learn but we will have to deal with them as they come.

So don’t fret over the mistakes you make with your Personal Finance. They will pass and you learn something in the process. Once you develop competency from all your previous mistakes, your finances will be on auto-pilot and you will be able to cruise pleasantly into retirement 😉

PS I self edited almost every sentence of this post at least once..I’m still working on that haha

PPS I edited that PS five times..the words just weren’t coming out right..

Image by Matthew Haggerty

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14 People have left comments on this post

» JackieNo Gravatar said: { Nov 2, 2009 - 02:11:14 }

I agree with you; mistakes aren’t something to worry about — they’re something to learn from. And for the self-editing, what would happen if you just wrote a post the whole way through once without even changing so much as a typo? You might surprise yourself. (And you can always go back and edit it later if you really want to.)
.-= Jackie´s last blog ..Getting Out of Survival Mode =-.

» corrinNo Gravatar said: { Nov 2, 2009 - 02:11:23 }

I can’t get over that photo – I’ll come back to read once I stop laughing.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 2, 2009 - 02:11:50 }

Jackie, that is exactly what I have been trying to do lately. I had a huge list of things I had to write on a shorter than normal deadline (work/school were taking up my time) so I actually wrote a pretty long article in just 2 hours doing just that.

Another thing I have been doing is I will try and just write without structuring anything. At the end, I will move things around, change formatting, etc till it looks pretty.

The hardest part is fighting my natural urges to backspace, reword, shorten or lengthen every little thing lol

Thanks for dropping by

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 2, 2009 - 02:11:36 }

Corrin, I didnt know it but George Bush didnt know how to ride a bike, found this while searching for training wheel photos haha. I guess we all have to start sometime

» FB @ FabulouslyBroke.comNo Gravatar said: { Nov 3, 2009 - 05:11:20 }

I love that mistakes help us build our competency.. which is exactly what “experience” is 🙂 Without mistakes, you don’t learn!

Still, for blogging and PFing, I make a ton of mistakes but I don’t sweat it

It’s just for fun anyway, and I have a good grip on both areas overall… so I’m not really sweating details or being perfect

I’m just being me. 🙂

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 4, 2009 - 10:11:56 }

FB, Great comment, you are being you as we all should be we! 😉 When I first started this blog, like I said, things took far too long. I was trying to write like I was some PF professional which I am not and I even felt pretentious at times. Now I write like a person, and ya know what, more people relate now and visit than before 😉

» Andrew @ Financial ServicesNo Gravatar said: { Nov 4, 2009 - 12:11:17 }

I’ve yet to see anyone who has been a financial success story say that he has not committed any mistakes. Anyone who does so probably just had their wealth handed to them. Now I’m not professing to be a success but I just think mistakes are unavoidable and the best we can do is just learn from them. Cash today is hard; we earn it, we lose it. What’s important is that we live a full life regardless of how much we have.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

You said it, just like they say, “never trust a skinny chef” if you haven’t made any mistakes, your probably lying to yourself 😉

» Printing PostcardsNo Gravatar said: { Nov 6, 2009 - 12:11:23 }

“We will never stop making mistakes, just like our brains never stop learning.”

This post is so perfect. It’s so true. Mistakes help us learn, to know the better way. I’m not say let us all go and make mistakes. I’m just saying that, sometimes it’s okay to make mistakes, for the best lessons are learned through our failures.

» FinanciallySmartNo Gravatar said: { Nov 11, 2009 - 06:11:56 }

Your article is right on the ball. Mistakes is there because we ought to learn from it. There are times we make mistakes and then forget about them and then do them again. You know why this happen because we thought it was insignificant but no mistakes are. Learning from them strengthen us. Thank you for a wonderful article.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 16, 2009 - 10:11:38 }

@Printing Postcards

Thanks for the kind words, and nice way of putting it, “the best lessons are learned through our failures”
.-= Jesse Michelsen´s last blog ..Black Friday: Tips, Tricks and Cautions =-.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Nov 16, 2009 - 10:11:32 }


Thanks for dropping by. I agree, there are many times I feel something is insignificant the first go around, then the next time, I recognize and hopefully note the mistake so I learn from it. Thank you for your kind words.
.-= Jesse Michelsen´s last blog ..Black Friday: Tips, Tricks and Cautions =-.

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