We have three weapons for fighting frustration over small mistakes we make – beating ourselves up, attempting to focus on something else and building systems.
The dominant approach is to beat ourselves up. Sadly, no good comes from that. We only lose motivation and willpower when we do that. So, it is a lose-lose-lose.
Now, focusing on something else is definitely one way to solve the problem. Often, the frustration caused by a small problem is larger than the problem itself. But, it isn’t easy to do and requires enormous self control.
So, we’re left with the approach that’s talked about the least – building systems. Here are a couple of examples –
Frustrating small problem 1: You went to workout near the office today and realized you forgot a towel.
System solution: Keep an emergency pair of clothes and towel at the office so you don’t have to rely on your memory.
Frustrating small problem 2: You keep forgetting what your shopping list should be despite discussing it at various times during the week
System solution: If you are doing this with a partner, keep a “live” shopping list in a task list somewhere or on a thread with your partner on Whatsapp. Else, keep a running list on your notes.
Frustrating small problem 3: You press send on emails too quickly.
System solution: Implement a one minute delay.
The idea is simple – every time you find yourself frustrated with yourself over a small mistake, build a system so it never happens again.
PS: If you are a business owner, resist doing this too much in your business. Don’t punish everyone for somebody’s mistake by creating policy every time. We tend to overdo this in business and do it too little in our personal lives.