How to Recover from a Bad Decision

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A botched business deal. A breakup. A vacation trip gone bad. An inappropriate word that caused a fight. A salty cake. A car accident. A broken family.

There are kinds of bad decisions that you can just shrug off while there are those that are plain embarrassing. And then there are some that are just unbelievably bad. It happens with the best of us.

The question is, how do we recover from it? I hope it’s not by putting the blame on someone else just so you can convince yourself that you’re not at fault.

Perhaps the following friendly reminders can help you out:

Don’t get too hang up on it

I know, it was just too bad and unfortunate and messed up. You lost something or maybe you were totally mortified. But does it really help when you replay the incident over and over in your mind? Do you really need to relive the negative emotions that you felt when it unfolded?

The problem is we tend to take our sweet time staring blankly at things and wallowing in self-pity. Sure there’s a time to ‘grieve’ but the time it takes for you to decide to stand up after the fall is going to be crucial. Every minute you waste is a precious minute you can’t get back.

Just move on already.

Have the right perspective

It’s a fact of life that, at some point (or many points) in your life, you’re going to mess up in your choices. Even the best fall down sometimes. (Yep, that’s a line from a song.)

Remember that you are human, ergo, prone to making bad calls. As long as you don’t let it become a habit, I don’t see why you can’t make up for it next time.

So don’t beat yourself up too bad over that failed business meeting or that absolute date disaster. It doesn’t mean the end of the world. And it certainly doesn’t define you as a failure. As they say, mistakes are actually just lessons learned.

Be humble

After you’ve moved on and accepted the fact that you made a bad decision, there remains one last thing you should be ready to deal with.

The thing about decisions is that they have consequences, and even bad ones are not exempted from affecting other people. This means being prepared to own up to your mistake and to say sorry.

It may be as small as regretting your choice of morning latte for your boss or as big as giving a go-signal for the launch of an untested product. It’s easy to apologize to your boss but it’s going to be a struggle to say sorry to a lot of people whose lives changed for the worse because of your decision. There will be backlash and verbal attacks, but you don’t have to bear them on your own. Your friends’ support will become indispensable at this point. Having enough dose of humility to ask for other’s help is fine.


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