We all make mistakes, and many of them are likely to be financial ones: bad buying, bad borrowing and failure to save, among others. Deciding to learn from those mistakes is the best policy.
Failure philosophy. Under the heading "A philosophy of failure," J.D. Roth writes at his getrichslowly.org site that we can learn from "mundane mistakes" such as going food shopping while hungry. He's got a three-step plan in this post. First, figure out what went wrong. The second step is to make a plan to prevent the mistake. Perhaps, for example, you need to make a point of having a snack or meal before you get to the grocery store. And, third, "view each mistake as temporary and isolated." That way, the "failure" is not part of a larger, more difficult problem, like a character flaw.
Financial regret. A post here by Rob Berger is titled "How to harness the stunning power of financial regret." Berger has a five-step program that begins with the advice to "stop beating yourself up over past financial mistakes." Recovering from a financial mess requires the ability to see the mistake in perspective, change a bad habit, and look to the future, he suggests. This is from a sight called DoughRoller, whose tag line is, "Make more, spend less, invest the rest."
You might want to follow up with another Berger post: "5 things I did in my 20s that made me rich in my 40s."
Testimonials. This page of "our worst financial mistakes" at wisebread.com may be a few years old, but the stories on it - and the lessons learned - resonate. They are the tales of financial mistakes from folks who repeatedly ran up huge credit card debts, or bought houses they couldn't afford and refused to make sacrifices for financial goals.
Poor house. Mint.com notes here 10 financial mistakes that will "put you in the poor house." You could probably list them yourself, but still make the mistakes, so a little review is good. Spending too much, borrowing too much, neglecting to get insurance, being a slacker and so on will do you no good.