When you are sixteen and you are so tired of being brutally uncool and overlooked, and the years of being sneered at pile up, you will do really stupid things. Sometimes it’s a lot of stupid things, and sometimes those stupid things will stay with you for a very long time.
For me, I found a double whammy way to both be accepted and to appear that I didn’t care about being accepted: cigarettes. Of course, this is also a great way to ruin your health, waste tons of money and time, and to discover the hardships of addiction. It took me years (and years) to put them down, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And it wasn’t that it took me eight years to want to be done with them—in many ways I wanted out of the habit almost as soon as I got into it. Quitting, though, was hard, and I failed at it over, and over, and over again.
It’s January 10 and my hunch is there are a lot of us out there who have already experienced a blow up in our plans to make 2017 the year. Goals are falling apart. We don’t see how to make what we wanted to happen. We’re back in old habits already and we feel pretty crummy about it. Can we share a collective group shrug here and acknowledge this: Failure happens? It is so rare that any of us makes a goal and then follows a blissful, obstacle-free path to reaching it. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to let go of your goals. Here are five things you can do to get back on track.
1. CELEBRATE THE PROGRESS YOU DID MAKE
So, you messed up. You only got to the gym once last week—not nearly the five times you meant to. Or maybe you only made it a few hours before you yelled at the kids—again. Or maybe you caved and your sneak visit to Facebook stole yet another hour from your day.
Yeah, you’re not where you wanted to be right now. But no matter how far off your goal or resolution you are, you probably made some amount of progress. So often we are focused on the distance that still lies between us and our goal that we forget to look back and acknowledge that we made it a few difficult feet past the start line—and that we are closer than we were! This is important and worthy. Write it down, tell it to yourself in the mirror—do something to acknowledge that you made progress as you steel yourself to try again.
2. REMEMBER WHY YOU MADE THE GOAL
Why do you want what you want? Remembering this is key to wanting to start over again and try. Write it down. Or find a picture of something that represents your why and put it where you see it often. Think about it. Pray about it. Keeping the ‘why’ front of mind helps when you face the temptation to give up on it.
3. RE-ASSESS THE GOAL
Was it too lofty? Did it not have a number attached to it (having something to measure really helps)? Did you not make time in your days for something new? Did you forget identify, or to eliminate the thing that triggers the bad habit? Something happened that made it easy for you to fall back into the habit. Now you know, and you can make the change.
4. RECOGNIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY
I hesitated even to use the word ‘failure’ in this blog, except that it echoes back the language we often use. I have, in recent months, though, tried to re-frame what I have previously defined as failure into OTE’s—opportunities to excel, or “learnings”—opportunities to gain knowledge about myself or what I’m trying to do (h/t to Ben Crane and Amy Porterfield for those terms, btw). Both are far more productive ways of looking at things than to tell myself I’ve failed or to define myself as a failure.
After you’ve done the above, you are ready to get back up on the horse and try again. This is always a scary thing, but when we do the other steps, we are more prepared to succeed, and to get further along than we were before. Sometimes it takes one restart, sometimes it takes many restarts. But eventually success in some form comes and we can celebrate an accomplishment that means something big has happened in our lives!
I lost track of the number of times I had to restart on my goal to quit smoking. Certainly it was well into double digits. It was a terrible cycle to be in, but the road to finally accomplishing the goal took a lot longer because I didn’t always do the steps above. But eventually, with perseverance, I succeeded, and it was worth every failed attempt to finally beat the habit. Your goal is still out there--go get it!
...and endurance produces character, and character produces hope...
Encouragement Spoken Here
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11