Ok, if I were to give you a simple choice between succeeding at your goals or failing, right now, which would you pick? Go on, it’s a simple choice. Winning or losing? Go.
Well sure, winning seems like the obvious choice but right now I’m going to (completely expectedly, given the title of this post) go with the losers. Why? Because failing is way, way more important than succeeding in the long run.
Just take a quick look at my slow change timetable:
The first thing that meets your eye here is the lovely long series of ‘Target met’ notes. Hooray! The system is working. Except… Hang on, what about those two days where my targets weren’t met? Oh well, those are anomalies. They mean nothing, right? Everyone slips up. And in general I’m doing really well!
Yes and no. Yes, I am doing really well and yes, those days are anomalies. But anomalies can tell us a great deal about what may or may not be working in a system.
As you can see, the two days when I didn’t meet my target were Saturdays (uh oh) and involved being hungover and hanging out with my friends. Now, these days were failures because I didn’t do what I set out, but already they are very interesting failures because they have things in common. They have gone from being anomalies, to data that I can use. So, what do I do about them? Here are a few options:
a. Stop drinking.
b. Stop hanging out with my friends.
c. Descend into a pit of self-hatred and tell myself I’ll never meet my goals.
OR I could just be a bit more realistic, see that I’m very likely to get pissed on Fridays and be hungover on Saturday mornings, and build my healthy eating targets around this as this is showing itself to be my weak spot. In practice, what does this mean? Just a very slight shifting of tactics. What I’ve decided to do is:
- Not rely on myself to be healthy on Saturday mornings. At all. Maybe this will change at some point, but in reality it’s unlikely because I like going to the pub and drinking pints on Friday evenings with my mates.
- Have a plan on Friday for precisely how I will be healthy for lunch or dinner on Saturday. My plan worked this weekend. I went out and got hammered on Friday as usual, and had a plan to get a healthy ready meal from Marks and Sparks on Saturday afternoon when I was out, and have that for lunch. And I did. The even-more-sensible thing to do would be to have a ready meal in the fridge waiting for me on Saturday, but because I went straight from work to the pub this didn’t happen.
And that’s it. These very small adjustments to my expectations meant that this week I met all my targets. I’m feeling pretty good about that.
And I’m absolutely indebted to my failures, because they taught me how not to fail again.