Are you repeating the same mistakes? Do you keep making the same mistake over and over again? Let's look at the top 10 reasons we repeat the same mistakes and how we can turn our behavior around.

Do you learn from your mistakes or do you keep repeating the same ones? Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again?

I think all of us are guilty of this at some point so let’s take a look at 10 reasons why we keep repeating the same mistakes and how we can turn those around to our advantage.

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Often our mistakes turn into habits. The very nature of habits is that we do them over and over again. Doesn’t take much to see a problem there!

There are so many things we do without even thinking about them which is great for reserving our mental energy but not great if what we automatically do is repeat a mistake over and over again.


Gotta love those vices, don’t you? We all have them (yes even the nicest, kindest person you know has a vice or two they just might be a bit tamer than most or be better at hiding them).

I don’t think I need to write out a list of vices here, we all know the common culprits that mess with our lives, finances, health, happiness, and success.

If you don’t get your vices under control you are bound for trouble and it usually means big trouble!


Stress can greatly affect whether we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

It makes us cranky, anxious, and much more likely to do something wildly out of character. If we get stress relief from that activity there is every chance we will go back for more the next time we find ourselves stressed out.

Low self-esteem

This used to be me. The mistakes I used to make when I was younger were mainly connected to low self-esteem.

I took men back when I shouldn’t have (probably because I didn’t think I would meet anyone else), I stayed with them a lot longer than I should have and I got into inappropriate relationships with people who weren’t emotionally available.

And unfortunately, I did it more than once. I repeated several mistakes over and over, hoping for a different result. Yep, I could easily pop a quote from Einstein about insanity in here!

Related content on knowing your own worth – 

Needing attention

This one is closely linked to our self-esteem. We feel vulnerable and insecure and seek outside validation to make ourselves feel better.

We need attention to feel good about ourselves.

So often it’s the wrong sort of attention or the validation is only fleeting (it always is when it’s externally based) and we feel worse than ever. We need more attention to make us feel good again. You can see where this is going. We get stuck in a vicious cycle. Vicious cycles are the perfect environment for repeating the same mistakes.

Related postAre You Creating Drama in Your Life?


It’s not so much we deny making the mistake (though we do that as well) this one is more about denial being the mistake!

I can totally relate to this one. I’ve had an ongoing health issue that I’ve been in denial over for far too long. By being in denial and not doing anything about my health I keep repeating the same mistake.


Though it’s hard to get our heads around we often self-sabotage.

We get close to achieving something we have been working on for a while or we get serious in a relationship then BAM we panic and go out and do something to endanger or completely ruin the whole thing.

Deep down we don’t think we deserve success/happiness or don’t think we can maintain it so why bother? We jump in with both feet and screw it all up.


I think we would all be a bit shocked if we realized the mistakes people make when they are – wait for it – bored.

I don’t mean bored in an I have an hour to kill waiting for the train bored. I’m talking about my life is going along smoothly but nothing really exciting is happening so I need to shake things up type bored.

Or my life is repetitive so I need some excitement. Sometimes people who are perfectly happy with their lives make huge mistakes because they need a distraction.

There’s also the – nothing else is on offer – so I will keep going back for more until something else comes along situation.

Related post – How to Overcome Boredom


When life gets difficult and we are facing something painful or upsetting we often turn to escapism.

I did this when my Dad was dying. I drank too much (I couldn’t drink often because there was too much going on with daily hospital visits and working full time but when I got the opportunity I went into binge drinking mode) and made some questionable decisions and mistakes.

That’s an extreme case obviously but you might be making exactly the same mistake in something much more subtle.

I’m talking about watching television. It’s our go-to escapism device. It is also an often mind-numbing time waster that will stop you from achieving your goals.

Take this simple test. The next time you find yourself saying or thinking – I don’t have enough time or I’m too busy – do a mental calculation of how much television you watched during the week. The total number of hours might shock you!

Related post – Do You Need to Rethink Your Television Viewing?

Not sure what to do next

I watched a webinar the other day that talked about growing your online business. The presenter made a statement about it not being hard. Yikes, that stung a tad considering I have been struggling to do the exact same thing.

She went on to say that it wasn’t hard but that most people were going about it the wrong way or at least doing it the hard way.

Often when we are not sure what to do next, we just keep doing what we have always done (whether we like to admit it involves continuing to make the same mistakes).

I actually realized I was doing this about a month ago. In some earlier posts, I talked about the mistakes I made when I was a freelance writer.  The other day I was looking at my work plan for the week and suddenly realized – damn – that’s the same mistake I made last time. I immediately changed my approach and made sure I did something different.

So how do we turn all this around?


We can’t stop doing something if we don’t realize we are doing it in the first place!

Awareness doesn’t stop us from repeating the same mistakes (ahhhh if only it was that simple) but it’s certainly a good first baby step toward change.

Form new habits

I’ve been reading a lot about habits over the last year and I’ve got to say it’s fascinating stuff.  I’m sure I’ve only just started to fully appreciate how powerful these suckers can be.

Have you heard of habit stacking? You most likely habit stack every morning without even realizing it. You brush your teeth, get dressed for work, and get yourself to work – all habits you do without thinking stacked on top of each other.

If you want to stop making the same mistakes think about how habit stacking can help you.

Remember the health issue I mentioned above, yesterday I implemented an action to hopefully turn it into a habit. Granted it’s early days but I am excited about finally taking steps to address the issue. Since it’s an unpleasant task (hence why I don’t do it) I have attached it to an enjoyable task I do every day in a bid to ingrain it as a healthy habit. Wish me luck!

Refocus your priorities

If you are repeating the same mistakes because you are distracted, bored, or not sure what to do next then you need to refocus your priorities.

You need solid goals to focus on.

Maybe you are not working on the right projects, maybe you have too many projects, or perhaps even not enough to keep your creativity and motivation firing.

Refocus on what’s important. Keep your eye on the prize. Stay on track with your goals.

Exercise self-discipline

Good old self-discipline. Let’s face it, self-discipline gets such a bad rap you probably read that and did an eye roll. Self-discipline sounds boring.

It sounds like a whole lot of anti-fun but it doesn’t have to be that way.

When we think of self-discipline we generally think of giving up something good (food, sex, etc.).

But what if we thought of self-discipline as something that gives instead of takes away? What if we start seeing it as pleasure and not pain?

A bit like the habit stacking method, I find that for me personally, self-discipline works best in batches. I allocate a large chunk of time to get a project done, work my butt off in that time and then allow myself a small amount of downtime.

This is where self-discipline really kicks in because you have to be smart about your downtime. You can’t work for two hours and then sit watching television for five if you still have tons to do.

The rewards need to be appropriate to your workload and situation.

You can do this if you work in an office as well. Instead of downtime do something not as mentally demanding to give yourself a bit of a break then you will be ready to throw yourself back into the big-ticket items.

When you muster your self-discipline and achieve what’s important to you it’s a fantastic feeling which motivates you to do and achieve more. It’s all give.

Related postHow to Have More Self-Discipline

Stress management

I know, I know we all know we should manage our stress. So easy to write but much harder to do!

Life throws stuff at us and we do our best to keep up. We all know how it works.

In saying that we need to be able to find ways to keep our stress levels under control because we all know that massive problems can arise when our stress, vices, and bad habits decide to throw a good party. It all turns to crap in record time and we end up repeating the same mistakes.

Work out some healthy ways to reduce your stress levels. There are hundreds of things to choose from so choose activities that are personal and special to you.

If you are serious about reducing stress in your life, the folks over at CreativeLive have an online course Stress is Optional that can help. The course is run by Dr. Cynthia Ackrill and can help you deal with stress, worry, and anxiety.

Be accountable

When we keep making the same mistakes (particularly when there is another person involved in our mistake) it’s easy to pass the blame to the other person.

It sounds something like I can’t stop smoking because my partner smokes or I can’t drink less because all of my friends drink a lot.

I saw a case of this on a weight loss show recently. One woman blamed a family member for her being overweight because they lived together. I understand you can pick up someone’s eating habits when you live with them but no one forced junk food down her throat. She had to be accountable for her own actions.

Willingness to change

We need to want to stop repeating the same mistakes.

We might know something is bad for us and know we should stop but hey when it all comes down to it we don’t want to stop. If we don’t want to, you can pretty much bet it’s not going to happen.

You have to be willing.

Work on your self-esteem

When you work on your self-esteem, know your own worth, and love and accept yourself you will be much less inclined to keep repeating the same mistakes because quite frankly you know you deserve better and you are not going to tolerate anyone treating you like crap (including yourself).

Strive for internal validation.

This is where you know you are smart, beautiful, talented (or whatever words work for you). You know it within yourself – you know it in your soul.

Whilst compliments are lovely and you accept them graciously, you’re not needy about people telling you how wonderful you are because you believe in yourself.

To get your self-doubt under control, I suggest the How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence online course by Mel Robbins over at CreativeLive. I took this course myself at the beginning of the year (you can read my review here) and I found it very beneficial. I got a lot out of this course and highly recommend it.

Have fun

Sometimes when I am writing I realize how serious it all sounds and I remind myself to lighten the hell up!

What we often need is more fun and play in our lives.

We need to be more childlike (as opposed to childish).

We need more spontaneity and joy. We need a damn good laugh (one of those belly laughs that hurts our stomach and makes us cry happy tears). Focus on having more fun.

Are you repeating the same mistakes? What actions can you take to change your behavior?

It is time to break out of your old patterns and plot a fun and positive path for the future.

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