I decided my word of the year would be failure. I kept fairly quiet about it because, who does that?
It’s a funny thing. Kind of like when you decide to buy a Honda Accord in Lunar Silver Metallic, and you start seeing Honda Accords in Lunar Silver Metallic everywhere. A friend posted her word of the year in our mastermind: Failure. Then another. Other friends texted me quotes about winning being the result of many failures. Failure was everywhere.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m working to not avoid failure. But it’s one thing to get it intellectually. Like when people say, “What if a baby stopped trying to walk because she failed the first time?” Well sure, but the baby has a low center of gravity so it doesn’t really hurt. Plus, people are standing around cheering and clapping for her, even when she falls.
Not to mention, it’s expected. The baby isn’t given X number of tries and then we give up on her.
Ultimately the analogy falls short for me. Humans evolved to walk.
But there’s a critical take away: the muscle strength, coordination and balance gained by falling (failing) and getting back up – many times – is what made it eventually possible for each of us to walk.
Here are three ways I’m working with my clients – and myself – to build the strength we need to get from failure to win:
- Determine what muscles have atrophied. Or, where you need to strengthen muscles that you never knew you had (like how you feel the day after a strenuous workout). Failing is an opportunity to see what we’re missing. What information, strategies or support do you need to build those muscles so that you succeed?
- Because we’ve evolved to avoid danger, failing feels uncomfortable. So, plan for it. I prepare my clients that losing weight will bring discomfort. They make peace with difficult feelings, rather than give into the temptation to blot it out (e.g. the urge to snack at night in front of the TV). When you’re willing to feel discomfort and move through it, anything is possible.
- Self-flagellation is the worst response to failure. Have compassion for what you’ve been through, for the discomfort you feel…be kind to your “sore muscles.” Then, have good conversations with yourself. Ones that are helpful and serve your highest good. Asking “What can I change to get a better result?” is so much better than asking “What’s wrong with me?” There’s no good answer to that last one.
Avoiding failure means never really going after what you want. And to me, that’s the worst possible outcome for my life, both in my business and personally.
Professionally, if I’m not willing to pick up the phone and make a request, for example, because it’s too uncomfortable, I’ve already lost. I’d rather have the temporary embarrassment of rejection than the long-term angst of wondering “what if…?” Personally, when I set out to see what’s possible, I’m amazed at the results. Being willing to do hard things is the best thing that happened to my body and my health.
The thing is, you and I are only familiar with what’s possible in our past, so we can’t allow that experience to define – to limit – what’s possible for our future. Saying “I can’t lose weight, build a successful business, grow a large following… because I tried it before and it didn’t work” is nonsense. The only way to our goals is through failure. And the more we’re willing to experience it, the better our results.
Heather Moreno is a weight loss coach who helps women stop agonizing over diets and break the patterns that hold them back from losing weight. Her greatest desire is for her clients to enjoy food, love life, and feel like themselves again. Download her free 10 Hacks to Start Losing Weight and Feeling Better.