Of Mistakes, Failure, and Opportunity

Mistakes. We all make them. I talked about one of my big mistakes yesterday. I wasn’t going to continue on with the subject today, but Kacie of Sense to Save made an interesting comment. She said,

I’m not sure how you can undo what has been done, but I’ve always been your fan and I will continue to be! (emphasis mine)

How often do we say those words to ourselves after making mistakes? “Oh, I wish I could go back and do it over again!” or “I wish I could undo that decision.” It’s tempting to think that way. But should we?

I have a relative…I think it might have been my grandpa, but my memory is a bit fuzzy…who said, “Make a decision and then make it right.” Though I’m not completely sure I agree with that advice in all situations, I get the sentiment. Living life with too many regrets is no way to live.

We all make mistakes. What sets those who are successful in life apart from the rest is what happens after mistakes are made. When we make a mistake, we have two choices. We can either declare total failure and hide under a rock, or we can evaluate what happened and find a way to move forward.

Declaring failure stagnates us. It puts us in a holding pattern, unable to go back, but scared to move ahead. Lest you all think I’m bragging that I have it all figured out, I’ll admit that’s where I was two weeks ago. Declaring failure and ready to quit.

But seeing mistakes as opportunities is freeing. It gives us freedom to learn, to be wiser. It gives us freedom to try new things. Once we make a mistake or experience some sort of failure and realize it’s not going to kill us, we have the freedom to make more mistakes and keep learning, until the day comes we get it right. This principle applies to every area of life…relationships, money, career, you name it.

When you make a mistake, rather than declaring failure, examine what went wrong. Then turn it into an opportunity.

In my college days I made some pretty bad choices. I partied. I dated the bad boys. And I paid dearly. I have never been so miserable in my life as I was back then. I did things I’m not proud of. When all was said and done, I ran home to my mom and dad, something I swore I’d never do. I never felt more like a failure than I did at age 22. But that move from San Diego to Oregon changed my life.

I went back to church and rededicated my life to the Lord. I met and married my husband. And I had two beautiful children. If I could take it all back, would I do my college years over? No way!

Through the pain and struggles I was shaped into the person I am today. I’m still not proud of the things I did back then, but I’m not going to live my life wishing for a do-over. Because if I had made better decisions in college, I never would have left San Diego, and I wouldn’t have the life I live today. And quite frankly, I like my life today.

And the same goes with mistakes I’ve made at Being Frugal. I’m not going to spend my time wishing I could undo anything. Over the last year I’ve learned who I am as a blogger and who I am not. I’ve had to juggle priorities until I finally put them in what I believe is the right order. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it’s important for me to be myself, even when I’m outside my comfort zone.

Whatever happens to BeingFrugal.net, whether people keep reading or not (and I’m grateful that many of you said that you will!), I have learned some important lessons. And no do-over is worth the knowledge I’ve gained through my mistakes.

Do you ever wish for a do-over? Have you ever made a terrible mistake that you choose not to regret, because of what you’ve learned?

And a note to Kacie: Thanks for the comment! I always love a comment that turns into a post!


By , on Mar 31, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. I am currently making some mistakes with my further career options and not making it possible to choose anyone of them, anyway I have took a right decision for blogging which gave me some time to think and work and also with the online bloggers who are already there where I wanted to be.

    Thanks for this post Lynnae it given a chance to think again about our old and current mistakes.

  2. Dena:

    We went through a financial melt down last year.I hated every minute of it.But if we hadn’t,we would be in a seriously worse place today.It put everything in perspective.So,I don’t regret it.I don’t like it.But what I learned was more valuable.I hope that makes sense:)

  3. Mostly, I think the process is worth making mistakes. I can only think of a couple “do-over” candidates .. but as that isn’t happening, I am content that I’ve learned very valuable lessons. No one could have taught me those lessons, so, I’m grateful. Alongside those mistakes, there have been clear indications to me that the Lord is watching out for me, even if I stumbled. Both the good and the bad, they all make us who we are!

  4. Yes I would like to go back to October 16, 1969. I was playing middle linebacker and came in on the blitz. The quarterback handed the ball to me and I fell on it. I could have run for a touchdown and won the game. From there I would have dated this nice gal instead of my first wife. Then I would have put money in the market on the bottom of the bear markets.
    I am just grateful I have all of my limbs and am above ground. Life does not have a rewind button.

  5. There is such competition with blogging. I fell for it and I also started writing things that interest me. Be true to Lynne your working for the Lord. Prayers and Hugs!

  6. Everyone makes mistakes. I look back at some of ours and wish I could do things differently or over completely. I that is in our nature. I have read many blogs from the beginning and loved them, only to have them become huge and all personal posts stop because people want to maintain their anonymity (sp?) I prefer the personal posts where I can really feel like I know a writer. Love your blog!

  7. Yeah! I think I may have worded my original comment in a way that I didn’t mean. I guess I meant more of, “I don’t think you can unring that bell” … and I should have added that you can just grow and move on!

    Sorry if my comment came across in a weird way — but I’m glad you got a post out of it :)


    • Lynnae:

      No worries. I didn’t take it in a bad way at all. And the way you worded it sparked a good thought process!

  8. Kate:

    What a GREAT post. I think that we all make mistakes and that you find out the kind of person you are by how you respond to those mistakes. I made some bad choices in college as well, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those mistakes. I happen to like the person I am and I am become that much better because now I am dealing with my financial mistakes.
    Thank you so much for posting this to remind us all that we need to be a little kinder to ourselves and realize that we can make a change if we need to.

  9. Alex Burda:

    Hi………in my opinion people can make a mistake but we have to learn from our mistakes . and we realise that we can take a step forwerd and we don,t make a same mistakes again and again.

  10. donna:

    I needed to read this.
    I have been struggling for YEARS, with poor choices i made in the past. Thank God for my foster sister, who listened to my tearful calls in the middle of the night.
    I too am happily married to a “much” younger man actually. We met by chance in San Diego! I was so accustomed to being “used” that he scared me. I hid from him for 10 years now we are going on our 21st anniversary 2010!
    I too have found my relationship with my creator and that has helped me come back to earth.
    Dan is my anchor (i make him grow up and he keeps me firmly rooted to the earth).
    Congrats to you, thank you so much for this post!
    I really had gotten to a point where i trusted very few people, period. I am still very leery. I hope that i can call it discernment now….as God has given me wisdom and knowledge.

  11. Meghan:

    I was first drawn to your blog because of your upbeat writing style on a subject that most of us don’t fall into until we are driven by NEED. You’ve kept me coming back daily because you’ve been determined to make frugality more fun then a mere necessity. We all have rough patches in our professional and personal lives but I think the key is to turn your approach into a positive! So, you got ‘outed’ because you are too awesome to be kept hidden. Stay focused on the positives :) You may be the inspiration for those that know you irl to reach out and positively influence strangers too! When you write, write to us. Your many fans that will probably never meet you but want to read that someone is living with similar ups and downs. *hugs*

    • Lynnae:

      Aw, thanks! That was inspiring!

  12. AngelSong:

    I would not do over any of the things I’ve done. They, good or bad, have shaped me into the person I am, and like you, I like my life today. With experience can come wisdom to make better choices in the future. I, for one, am glad you did not decide to quit.

  13. Great post! I too would not change anything, the struggles, pain and victories are what has formed me into who I am today.

    You’re doing good!

  14. Melinda:

    Awesome post. Good for you for deciding to stay true to your heart. I love your blog, BTW:)

  15. I’m like you, I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve learned from them and they’ve made me who I am today. Changing anything from my past would change who I am today and I’m quite happy with who and where I am today so there are no regrets. Although it would be nice to have back some of that money I blew on stupid stuff in college.

  16. Simple in France:

    I have some friends/family who know about my blog, so I suppose one of them could ‘out’ me. I like to think that there’s nothing on there I don’t want people knowing, but I really like my relative anonymity.

  17. I really want to stay anonymous because I’m afraid that once people I know IRL knew about my blog, it wouldn’t be the same. Hopefully I can stay under cover! :)

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