The Value of a Mistake by Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD®

The Value of a Mistake by Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD®

Have you ever been driving and took a wrong turn? How did you react? Did you get frustrated and annoyed because you didn’t know where you were or did you look around, keep driving, and discover a new route, an unexpected roadside stand, or a breathtaking view? So you made a mistake. What did you learn from it?

Many people hesitate to get organized because they’re afraid they won’t do it right. They want the system to be the perfect fit right away, or they want to use the latest fad or quick-fix scheme. If those don’t work for them, they throw up their hands in surrender, resign themselves to being disorganized their whole lives, and feel like a failure because they don’t fit the mold.

Thomas Edison, when asked if he was discouraged after trying and failing many times to invent the light bulb, said, “No. Now I know what doesn’t work”

We’re conditioned from a very young age to think that making mistakes is wrong. I’m just as guilty. In school we get rewarded for our incorrect answers by a fat red X. We compare ourselves to others with GPA’s and class ranking. Are we all perfect? No! Pencils have erasers. Computers and electronics have backspace keys and Undo icons.

As a kid, I’d get very frustrated when I tried something and it didn’t work out the way I wanted. I grew up with the mantra of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

As an adult, I truly value the opportunity to try something, see how it works out, then do something differently to see if it works better. I prefer to do something on my own first, before I ask for help. If I can figure something out for myself, I’ve learned something new!

So, what happens if you make a wrong turn? You can always turn around and go a different way. Now we have GPS’s, which are not always 100% reliable. So even with e-guides, we can still make mistakes.

How does this apply to organizing? If one system doesn’t work, you can always try another. Keep trying until you find what works best for you. Was it a mistake? Maybe, or maybe you just changed your mind about what you need and what might serve that need.

Practice self-forgiveness – so you made a mistake. So what? Did you learn from it? Did it cost you a lot of money? Did you invest a lot of time in it?

One example: a long marriage ending in divorce. You probably enjoyed some good days and had good luck. You grew and learned. Now you’ve made a change, and you can apply what you learned in your new life. My grandmother called this “tuition” – time, money, and energy invested in learning how to live life. Can you backtrack and undo or change what you did? Was it written in stone? The same goes for organizing. Try something, live with it a bit, then tweak it to fit your life NOW.

Gayle M. Gruenberg, CPO-CD® is the Chief Executive Organizer of Let’s Get Organized, LLC, an award-winning professional organizing firm based in Bergen County, New Jersey. Gayle is the creator of the Make Space for Blessings™ system. LGO works with busy families to help them find more time, space, money, and energy and connect their lives t7o their core values through being organized.


My Time-Out is listed on’s 2018 Top 30 Emotional Intelligence Blogs on the Planet!!!

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