Harness the power of everyday mini-steps, mistakes and failure
If you’re joining in on January’s 2 green smoothies a day habit or taking on some other challenge or goal this January, keep in mind that you are very likely going to fail many times along the way. Not just once, and not just temporarily. A lot! Often! Stupidly! But as Edmund Burke said “nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” I think the trick in all of this is just avoid one thing: failing habitually. Just don’t make failure a habit and I predict, as I put on my oracle hat from The Matrix, that you’ll be ‘right as rain’.
The thing is that if you focus on a small goal of building up a few “healthy habit days”, then the weight of their accumulation will outweigh any failure that will inevitably come your way. This is the great news about failure! It is very meaningless in isolation.
Ask yourself what does it really mean if you fail on days 3, 7, 15, 18, 22, 23, and 29 this January? That’s a lot of failure, right? Wrong! It means that you were on target, creating habits and making progress towards a healthier you 77% of the time in January. That is enough.
I don’t give a toss if I eat a couple chocolate chip cookies or blow off one pilates class.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling Happiness Project, has a great list called her “secrets of adulthood”. These are a list of reminders to herself about things she has personally discovered that helps her to live a great life. One of the ones that really resonated for me is what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. This goes for habits you want to build up, and thankfully it also applies to any setbacks or failure you have as well.
But what if I fail? You will. The answer to the what if question is, you will. A better question might be, “after I fail, what then?” Well, if you’ve chosen well, after you fail you will be one step closer to succeeding, you will be wiser and stronger and you almost certainly be more respected by all of those that are afraid to try.” – Seth Godin
Failure is really nothing to worry about. It does however need to be expected, met at the door, given a quick drink and then sent on it’s way. Check yourself on how you interpret the misstep. You’re in trouble if you take minor transgressions as a “sign” that you can’t do this, or that you can’t do perfection so why bother continuing on with this charade of “being healthy”.
What I tell myself when I am stuffing Doritos Hint of Lime into my mouth (a vile edible food-like substance and my personal nemesis), has to be something along the lines of “yes, and… later today I am having a green smoothie which puts be back on my habit path,” or “yes, and… I’ve done 12 days this month so far and this thing (insert failure) is not going to stop me taking more steps forward. ”
Move forward baby. That’s it! Just keep moving forward building habits and notice how those few little backsteps along the way just kinda give your walk a sexy little bit of latin flavour! Cha cha cha.