Who wants to talk about Failure? Not me. And I’m not alone.
Failure gives most people a nasty taste in their mouth because our culture does NOT respect failure. It is not an option. We even give trophies to everyone, including last place, so that no one feels like they are failing.
Yet every January first, just under HALF of Americans make a at least 1 resolution, and by the third week of January, more than two-thirds of those people have failed at that resolution.
I wonder how many of us make resolutions that are completely out of our normal scope of life, talents, likes, even personality. I wonder how many of us actually WANT to do these resolutions. I don’t mean the initial excitement about a resolution, I mean deep down, no social pressure, thought-of-it-myself resolutions.
Let’s start by addressing Failure: IT’S NOT A BAD THING TO FAIL.
Failure means we tried something. Failure teaches us numerous things. Failure humbles us. Failure can be a wonderful tool.
Does it feel great? Absolutely not. I’m not suggesting we are supposed to be over the moon every time we fail. I’m suggesting it doesn’t have to be a deep, negatively impactful loss. We can grieve the loss that occurs when we fail. We need to. AND we can take and learn from it.
Is it ok to attempt to minimize our chance of failure? YES!
Kira talked about intentional self-care just after Christmas on a Facebook Live. She had 3 points for accomplishing it:
Put it on the calendar
I want to add one more thing when it comes to resolutions:
4. Start where you are.
What does that mean??
I wondered earlier if some of our failures are because we pick something so out of our normal that it may even oppose our very selves. That motivates some people, but for most, it may be the major factor in our failure.
The question, “how do you eat an elephant” comes to mind. The answer is, “One bite and a time!”
If we have a track record of failing at New Year’s Resolutions, why not take a step back and see if we’re trying to shove the whole elephant in our mouths all at once?
Start by asking, “Do I really want to do this?”
Then evaluate where you are. Know what you are capable of and set your goal just a little beyond that, instead of lightyears beyond it.
I’ll use exercise as an example, since it seems to be the most popular New Year’s resolution.
If you’re a very sedentary person, you have a sitting office job, you aren’t super active, exercise isn’t in your routine, and you’re hoping to lose some weight, then wanting to run marathons in 3 months would be a VERY lofty goal. Combine that with the failed resolution track record. This may already be another resolution failure statistic.
Now, if I’m a couch potato, but I like to walk, and I need to lose weight for my cholesterol, I’m going to set a reasonable, in-my-wheelhouse goal. I already own a treadmill and I have a walking path in my neighborhood. I’ll commit to 20 minutes, 4 days a week walking. If the weather is good, I’m outside, if it isn’t, I have a machine eliminating an excuse not to walk. In the back of my mind, I’ve always wished I could run a marathon.
Using Kira’s steps for self-care, I’m going to:
schedule time for those walks.
I’m going to notch out time on my calendar so that I won’t schedule anything else over that, and I’ll even add a reminder.
I’m going to talk to my husband or my best friend and get some support in making sure I get that done. My husband or my best friend may be able to hold me accountable, ask how my walk was, or even join me.
Now adding my next step,
4. I’ve fit this goal into what already fits. I like to walk, it’s good for me, and I’m getting my support network (community) involved.
If I lose 10lbs in a couple of months, maybe jogging is in my future. If I can jog, maybe I’ll enter that 5k for charity this fall. If I’m running 5ks, maybe I can train for a half marathon. I’m starting to like this exercise thing. I found a few things to change in my schedule because this is more fun. Maybe in 2 years I run a marathon.
On the “failure” side, I tried walking, I tried the 20 minutes, but I couldn’t do more than that, I guess I couldn’t get beyond walking, and after a while I lost my motivation and enjoyment of it. Now it feels like a failure. I can’t lose the weight, I’m frustrated. I’m grieving lost hopes and dreams.
But I still need to lose that weight.
Maybe a friend invited me to this event that included ballroom dance instruction. I LOVED it and signed up for a class. It’s so much fun, I’m:
prioritizing the class on my calendar
It’s ON my calendar!
I invited my husband and he’s willing to try maybe once. He doesn’t hate it, I’m hooked.
I’ve got good rhythm and I lose 10 lbs in 5 weeks.
Now look back, is my goal to run a marathon or was my goal to lose weight to address my cholesterol?
It is both. I can grieve not accomplishing a marathon. I can simultaneously celebrate my win in the cholesterol battle.
Let’s not be afraid of failure, but let’s also resolve to start where we are to reach for the stars.