The Art of Mistake Making

By May 30, 2013Why wait?

Do you remember how many times you fell down when you were learning to walk? I don’t personally, but I’m sure I fell hundreds if not thousands of times in my quest for 2-legged movement. Do you think you cared about falling down or did you just instinctively get up and give it another go?

While teaching in China, the first day of every class I wrote, “MAKE MISTAKES!” on the blackboard. This was somewhat alarming and confusing for students of all ages. Make mistakes? Why would I ever want to make a mistake or worse, fail at something?

I explained to my students that when learning a new language, you have to make mistakes. Otherwise, you end up repeating the same old tried and true phrases, “How are you?” “I’m fine. Thank you.” “Where are you from?” and you’ll never be able to master any language.


Some of my favorite students in China

 As kids, we’re encouraged to make mistakes. How else can you grow? For some reason as adults, we’re often expected to have it all figured out by a certain age and our tolerance for mistake making and risk dwindles. This is especially challenging when we’re taking on a new skill, new career, or new dream.

While learning Spanish and Chinese, I made a LOT of mistakes. I still make mistakes. The inner perfectionist in me isn’t always happy about these mistakes be it in another language or in life, but I’ve learned how to laugh at myself, how to gracefully look like a fool, and most importantly, I learn from them very quickly.

I was recently invited to host an interactive podcast on Butterfly Radio (if you have a smartphone, download the Butterfly app and look for the “6 Months to Live” station to follow and ask me any questions you might have) and someone asked me about the relationship between failure and happiness.

Failure is an essential part of life. Our best lessons can stem from our failures. What I find is that people give up too quickly on their dreams. They try and fail 3 times, and they promptly deduce, “That dream’s not possible!” Of course, there are times as Kid President says, “To go and get a better dream,” but I’m talking about the dreams that you consistently fantasize about, the ones that you just can’t shake, the ones that stay with you every day. The ones you’re willing to sacrifice for. Those are the dreams worth pursuing, and they’re absolutely attainable!

Dream Map!

Dream Map!

I believe if you can see it, you can achieve it. If you weren’t ready for that particular dream, you wouldn’t even have the ability to think about it or to conceive it. The reason I have fulfilled all my big dreams is because I keep going. I have failed. I’ve been rejected. I’ve had dark nights of the soul. I cry it out, dust myself off, and get back up because my heart craves that dream.

And having been on the other side of fear many times, I know that Dreams Do Come True and that there’s always a way. Also remember there’s help. You are not alone in making your dreams a reality. You don’t have to make all the mistakes someone else has already made. You can learn from them, so you can get to your dream faster. All the work I do centers around bringing Dreams to Life because I believe that people are their best when we’re all living our passions and are abundantly supported in doing so.

If you need a little extra encouragement, approach your dream as a Life Experiment. What actions can you take today? What could you do in 6 months?






Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Currie says:



    Thank you for the reminder I so needed.

    I hope your travels are fantastic and I can’t wait for more!

    Have the most lovely day ever,

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thanks so much, Currie! I’m really glad to hear that it helped you, and I’m wishing you a fantabulous day as well! I’ll send you an email to follow up on how everything’s been going. Sending you lots of heart hugs! <3

  • Luca says:

    Thanks Jackie for your post

  • Audrey Chin says:

    The art of making mistakes – I LOVE this phrase.

  • Audrey Chin says:

    “The art of making mistakes” What a beautiful phrase. I’m going to retweet this.

  • D. A. Wolf says:

    While not exactly known as fearful, about 8 weeks back I recognized that I wasn’t taking as many chances as I used to – chances of the intellectual and even emotional sort. So I grabbed one of my kids’ big thick-tipped Sharpies and wrote on a piece of paper: “NO MORE FEAR.”

    I taped it to a cabinet in the kitchen, where I see it frequently.

    It’s my version of “make mistakes” – something we forget is normal, usual, and often helpful.

    Love this post, love the sentiment, love the related albeit more specific reference that reminds us that this is how we learn and advance.

    Thanks for this!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely and heartfelt comment, D.A.! I love your idea of writing “no more fear,” and I think it’s even more awesome that you wrote it with your kids’ Sharpies! Such a great idea! Thanks for visiting and look forward to staying connected! 🙂

  • I’m @burrell_melissa on Twitter. Following @rnfrstalliance I clicked on @guardianeco and saw @6monthstolive following them: I guessed you were terminally ill; so the morning of 7/27/13, I tweeted to @sixmonthstolive. By evening, realizing my mistake, I began reading your stuff; and, am very glad you’re not a sad case.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Hi Melissa Ann! Thanks so much for reaching out and for commenting! I hope to live many, many years, and I’m very happy to be healthy and truly living! I’ve followed you on Twitter and look forward to your updates! 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    Great article Jackie! I identify with approaching dreams as a life experiment, reminds me of this great song:

  • […] the beauty and thrill of life. I can pretty much guarantee that you will make mistakes. I have made countless ones. I’ve literally fallen on my face (quite recently actually), been […]

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