Becoming more organized or punctual or whatever you would like to change about yourself doesn’t happen overnight with a set of specific actions done once and neatly completed for all time. (We wish, right?) Instead, you choose new habits for yourself and set up structures to best support them. And then you keep at it. Even with all the good will and supporting structures in the world, changing a habit takes sustained work over the long haul. I guarantee you that you will screw it up many times along the way. My clients do, and so do I. Whether or not you fail sometimes doesn’t matter. How you choose to respond in those moments matters very much indeed.
So, if you really want to change your life, it’s important to get really good at failing to be perfect. Whatever amazing system you create or wonderful new habit you start with high hopes, there will come a time when for whatever reason you mess it up and don’t live up to the new goal you set for yourself. Your reaction when you experience these bumps and setbacks will ultimately determine whether you will succeed.
How to fail at failure:
Tell yourself to give up because you think that this single setback means you have failed in the goal for all time. Decide that you’re not the kind of person who can do this. Give up because you are overwhelmed or guilty or angry with yourself or think it’s too hard. Tell yourself it’s okay to let it slide for a few weeks now since you’ve already screwed up anyway, right?
How to succeed at failure:
Congratulate yourself – you’ve gotten far enough in working towards your goal to mess it up some! Forgive yourself for being human and imperfect like the rest of us. Immediately, treating yourself kindly but firmly, choose to resume the behavior you wish to see in yourself. Ask yourself what you learned from your setback. Think about how you can support yourself better to make it easier to follow through next time. Ask yourself if your goal needs to be adjusted in some way to make it different or perhaps smaller as a first step (but don’t settle for too little of yourself, either). Remember how much you’ve accomplished already. Trust that you will succeed more and more of the time, and that someday, the actions that are currently such a struggle will be so effortless you will hardly notice.
After all, if you’re going to fail, you might as well do it right!
P.S. You are missing my point a bit if you choose to use this concept to beat yourself up for failing at failing