“Failure isn’t a badge of shame. It’s a rite of passage”
– Tony Hseih, co-founder Zappos
One hashtag I check regularly on the WordPress Reader is “diet.” I’ll usually find a variety of posts ranging from informational to motivational to interesting to just plain silly.
There’s one type of post I find EVERY time. I call it the “wah wah failure post.” It goes something like this:
Wah wah wah. I’ve only been on my diet six days, and already I’ve caved and eaten seventeen hamburgers smothered in cheese, marshmallows, and gravy.
I knew from the beginning that I was a fat stupid failure, and now once again I’m reminded of what a stupid fat failure I am.
Well, I figure if I already ruined this diet, might as well enjoy the weekend. It is Easter after all! I guess I’ll start again Monday.
It’s hard staying motivated with this slow metabolism. So unfair! Especially since my sister eats anything she wants and stays rail thin. #ughhhh”
Stop Expecting Not To Fail
Why do people expect that they will declare themselves on a diet, and from that day forward – they will never fail?
In the whole of human history, no person has ever achieved ANYTHING without failing at it first. And no, I’m not talking about large or notable accomplishments. I’m talking about the basics. For example, tying your shoe.
How many times did you mess up tying your shoe before you finally got it right? Three times? Seven times? One hundred and three times?
You failed a lot at first. And then you got a little better. But, although passable, your knot was still probably not great for some time. Finally, you became a shoe tying expert. And once you did – you forgot how hard it was to get there. And then some bastard came along and invented velcro shoes. You become a nihilist. After all, what’s the point?
Basically, we are born with three abilities: suckle, breathe, defecate. Everything else we need to learn.
Our bodies are basically sensors and processors. We act then measure then act then measure until we get an action down decently enough to call it “not a failure.” And we still probably suck at it. We have to fail more and get even better.
And yet, when you go on a diet – you expect that you’re going to magically summon some untapped reserve of willpower and never fail.
The foolishness is TRIPLE here, because:
- If your willpower were excellent, you prrroooobably wouldn’t find yourself in this current predicament (not that I believe in willpower, see my post here); AND
- Your body doesn’t WANT to lose weight. It wants sweet sweet homeostasis.
When you tie your shoe, your shoe isn’t fighting you at every step.
Or is it?
..But when you diet, your body IS fighting you. And it wants to win badly.
That’s because your poor hot body thinks it’s dying. And you’re the sick nut who’s killing it. “Why won’t you feed me?” asks your poor hot body. But it only hears its own echo.
When you fight your body, you’ll win sometimes. But you won’t win every time. No big deal. You don’t have to.
You just need to fail forward.
You ARE going to fail. You will. So you need to fail forward.
Failing forward means taking accountability for your failure. Which is VERY different from making yourself feel guilty about it.
Be an alien robot from another galaxy. Don’t color your failure with emotions that don’t serve you. Instead, examine your failure with the disinterested mind of a curious yet mechanical being, programmed by a wizard lightyears away in a galaxy called “Disintrestrex Four.”
What are the FACTS behind your failure? Separate them out from the story you weaved yourself.
Robots don’t care about stories. They have no idea about your childhood or your mean aunt Mae or your white privilege or all of those terrible things your third grade teacher said to you when you accidentally killed the class pet.
Robots only care about the root cause of your malfunction. They need to compile an error report to send back to the mothership, and they don’t want your humanoid opinion. They want facts.
Why do you fail?
I never fail, because I’m an exemplary person. Wink wink.
..But if I ever WERE to fail (WINK WINK), it might be because:
- I didn’t get enough sleep
- I ate a carby breakfast
- I drank a tub full of alcohol
- I kept tempting foods in the house (ahem…girl scout cookies)
Knowing this list keeps me in the habit of making good decisions. And that’s enough.
You don’t need to be an angel like me to look and feel hot as Satan himself. You just need to make a lot more good choices than bad ones.
So know yourself! And know thyself! Even if those both mean the same exact thing.
Know why you fail, and how you fail.
Know that it’s ALL YOUR FAULT. And yet, know also that you’re not at all to blame. Losing weight is hard! Food is good. And your body is fighting you.
Finally, fail forward!!!
- Leverage your failures to learn more about yourself.
- Use this knowledge to improve and refine your efforts.
How can YOU use YOUR last “failure” to improve your odds of success?
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