14 costly errors that many people make in their lives (that you should try to avoid)

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Many people make the same mistakes over and over until they finally learn from them.

When they do, they must choose between continuing to make these errors or stepping free from the repeated cycle to experience different results.

Below are 14 of the most costly errors people repeat before they finally learn to change them—if they ever do.

1. Giving up too easily.

A lot of folks allow themselves to be easily defeated by various endeavors, and give up without really giving a situation a chance.

They might try to cook a meal and throw in the towel at the slightest misstep, or give up on health and fitness goals when they don’t see measurable results after a short period.

Anything worth doing requires discipline, dedication, and perseverance. This relates to personal pursuits and endeavors as well as education and relationships.

If something truly matters to you, you’ll keep at it until you see real change happen—even if it takes a while.

Extra reading: 13 Reasons Why You Give Up So Easily (+ How Not To)

2. Avoiding anything in the least bit risky.

Many people are so hesitant to take risks that they prefer to keep paddling in the shallow end rather than risk the potential discomfort of trying out the deeper water.

These are often folks who insist that others change their ways instead to make themselves feel more comfortable. They refuse to develop coping skills in favor of trying to “stay safe” by any means necessary.

If a person doesn’t risk anything, they don’t achieve anything.

Someone who prefers to remain in a cozy cocoon of certitude might remain comfortable since they never have to deal with anything unexpected or emotionally challenging, but they’ll stagnate in that cocoon.

That isn’t a life: it’s a banal existence that’ll keep carrying on blandly until it finally ends.

Extra reading: Taking Risks In Life: Why You Should + How To Do It Right

3. Living beyond their means.

We all like to have nice things, but it’s a bad idea to do so at the expense of a healthy bank account.

Some people feel pressured to dole out more money than they have readily available for the sake of being fashionable, or to have the same cool gadgets that others do, but at what cost?

There’s almost always a trickle-down effect that’ll affect several aspects of their life over time.

Is having a brand-name bag more important than being able to pay rent on time? If rent isn’t paid, they risk eviction. Once evicted, they won’t just have to crash at a friend’s place for a while—they’ll have a black mark against them if they try to rent again. Their credit rating may plummet if they don’t keep up with payments, and so on.

4. Not setting aside emergency funds.

This expands upon the previous point, i.e. being irresponsible with money. The difference is that you may very well be living within your means, but not making a point of putting aside a certain amount of income regularly in case the unexpected occurs.

Life often throws us curveballs, leaving us in situations where we have unexpected expenses.

A sudden illness or injury might require us to take time off work, or something in the house might need urgent repair or replacement. If funds hadn’t been set aside in advance, you could easily go into serious debt in the face of these unplanned issues.

Note: Considering that over 60% of North Americans and Europeans are living paycheck to paycheck, it’s extremely difficult for most people to set aside funds “for a rainy day”.

For those who are struggling financially, there are other ways of preparing for potential emergencies, such as stocking the pantry with extra food when items are on sale or by using “buy one get one free” coupons.

It’s a matter of doing what you can when you can, so you and your family won’t go hungry in case of a sudden job loss or illness that prevents someone from being able to work.

5. Neglecting their health.

We were given these bodies as vehicles to use in this lifetime, and if we don’t take care of them, they fall apart.

This isn’t anecdotal either: those who neglect their health inevitably contend with a myriad of illnesses and deteriorations.

The problem is that taking care of our health can be boring or even annoying.

Some people don’t like to eat healthy food or do any kind of exercise and don’t seem to suffer any ill effects.

That very well may be the case when they’re young, but the cumulative effects will often make themselves known as they get older. Then they’ll kick themselves for not taking better care of themselves when they had the chance.

6. Using unhealthy escapism or self-destructive methods of coping with difficulty.

It’s no surprise to anyone over the age of five or so that life can get ugly sometimes.

Those who don’t develop healthy coping mechanisms often turn to different types of escapism as a means of dealing with life’s unpleasantness, which can have deleterious effects.

We all enjoy a certain amount of escapism, otherwise nobody would ever binge-watch online streaming shows or read fiction novels, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do it.

For example, alcohol and illicit substance abuse may be fun to indulge in occasionally, but when used as crutches they can only cause serious issues in the long run.

There are healthier ways of dealing with our issues, which won’t result in relationship breakdown, job loss, or serious health effects.

7. Avoiding discomfort.

A lot of people do everything they can to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

While this can result in not having to deal with icky emotions like anxiety, embarrassment, or awkwardness, it can also lead to missing out on some great opportunities.

Furthermore, those who actively avoid discomfort often feel envious and resentful of others for the opportunities they enjoy by getting uncomfortable once in a while.

The person who avoids traveling because they don’t want to get bitten by mosquitoes may miss out on swimming with dolphins or eating incredible food.

Similarly, those who don’t want to experience awkwardness in social functions miss out on great relationships and job opportunities. Then they’ll kick themselves for missing out, but take the exact same route the next time an opportunity presents itself, ad infinitum.

8. Adhering to cultural conditioning.

Thinking for yourself can be difficult—it’s easier to adhere to what you’ve been taught rather than risk the discomfort of learning that everything you thought you knew was either wrong or at least questionable.

Many people choose to live according to the way they were raised rather than do research and learn about subjects outside of their indoctrination.

By doing so, they limit their life experience (and opportunities) exponentially.

Just because you’ve been inundated by one type of information about gender or racial stereotyping, ableism, classism, or any other -ism you can think of doesn’t mean you need to be limited by what you’ve been taught.

Doing so can cost you invaluable friendships, life opportunities, and much more.

9. Following the herd instead of their own intuition/instincts.

How often have you been in a situation where you knew something felt wrong to you, but you didn’t want to go against the crowd out of fear that you’d be mocked or ostracized?

This can relate to political leanings, health trends, investments, or even silly trends just because everyone else is doing it.

Every atom in your body might be screaming that this is a stupid idea, but you choose to be a lemming instead of a lion.

Next thing you know, you’re in the ER getting your stomach pumped because you ate too many Tide pods.

10. Taking another’s word or advice over personal experience.

Many people have been taught to set aside their own personal experience for the sake of someone else’s supposed expertise.

This is especially true in many medical situations, in which people (especially women) are gaslit and ignored by those who believe that their education and status overrule another’s familiarity with their own body.

Other situations may involve caving in and eating a food someone’s insisting that you try despite knowing that it’s going to affect you badly, or buying a particular item that you’ve had bad experiences with in the past because someone else insists that it’s the best option.

If you’ve used a type of equipment countless times in the past and know how it operates, why defer to someone else’s advice instead of relying on your own personal knowledge?

11. Not engaging in self-reflection for personal growth.

Most people don’t realize how important it is to check in with themselves now and again to reevaluate various aspects of their lives.

Most prefer to maintain the status quo because it’s comfortable and familiar, and they don’t want their lives shaken up by any type of change.

The problem here is that if we don’t change, we don’t evolve.

Change requires courage and strength, and in some cases, it also requires upheaval and commitment.

Generally speaking, people don’t change unless they absolutely have to… and by that time, it’s a lot more difficult to dig themselves out of the muck and mire to shift towards a more positive, fulfilling direction.

12. Procrastinating.

Procrastinating causes major issues that could have been avoided if action had been taken early.

For example, leaving school or work projects until the last minute causes intense stress and anxiety, along with poor performance. If you’d just gotten the work done early, you wouldn’t be scrambling at the last minute and submitting something sub-par as a result.

Similarly, procrastinating with housework can create a backlog. Dirty dishes will accumulate and stink up the kitchen, laundry might accumulate on various surfaces, and the next thing you know, you feel depressed and swamped because you’re surrounded by filth.

It’s important to note that procrastinating can also refer to neglecting one’s health. Getting that lump looked at early could mean the difference between life and death.

13. Seeing people’s potential instead of actuality.

How many times have you heard someone say that they can “fix” or “help” a person they’re dating?

Many of us try to see the best in people, and that often involves seeing who they have the potential to be, rather than who they are right now.

The problem with this is that they might never evolve into who they’re capable of becoming. In fact, they might get much worse, and drag you down with them along the way.

It’s great to want to help people, and if you can see the light buried within their troubles and shadows, that’s lovely of you.

However, you can’t save others: you can only help them (if and when they’re ready to be helped), and they need to do the majority of the work themselves, by their own initiative. Otherwise, you’ll just end up depleted and traumatized by your failed efforts.

14. Making decisions based on fear.

This is different from avoiding risk or discomfort as we mentioned earlier.

Rather, it has to do with letting fear rule your life in ways that can bring serious negative consequences down the line.

For example, someone who’s afraid of being alone forever might get into a relationship with a person who’s quite toxic to them, and then find it nearly impossible to extricate themselves from the partnership later, especially if children are involved.


A lot of people make these same errors over and over due to traumas or personal conditioning.

For instance, some people who dealt with family trauma may find themselves reenacting past experiences in the hope of a different outcome this time.

Similarly, people who have dated narcissists in the past may gravitate towards them again and again because they’re comfortable in that kind of toxic relationship.

Turn a critical eye toward the habits you find yourself repeating. Try to determine why you keep making these same errors, and you’ll be able to jump out of the groove you’re stuck in with conscious intention.

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About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.