“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
Well, you shouldn’t. It’s OK to fail. Assuming two very simple things:
- You tried
- You’re going to get back up and try again
That’s it. Then you may have failed but you’re not a failure.
Guess why I’m writing this brief post about failing…
Because I just failed.
It wasn’t even a particularly big challenge – but I was over-confident and I got it all wrong. I slipped up, caved in, wobbled, fell over… failed – but it’s just no biggie, because I tried, I started, I’m up and running with my new idea (which is fasting every Sunday) and I’ll try again.
A Bit Of Background
Following my interview with Annie about her 30 day water-only fast, and some further research on the subject, I decided to further modify my version of the slow-carb diet. My new version will be: 5 days slow-carb (Mon-Fri), 1 day cheat day (Sat) and 1 day water only fast (Sun).
Why I Failed
Two words: Over Confidence.
A water-only fast for one day? Easy peasy. OK, a few friends and my wife said I was stupid for doing this but who cares? Not me. They are just being nay-sayers. Ignore them. This would definitely be easy – and it should have been. I originally planned to have just tea and water for the first time of trying this because I already know that because I love tea so much and admittedly drink too much of it, when I don’t have tea for a whole day, I have been known to get headaches (not a good sign, I know).
In the end I went about my day as normal but I didn’t have my usual morning cup of tea. I just had some water. I took the dog for a walk. I arranged a game of golf with some friends from around 3pm. Still just water. Should I have some tea before going to play golf? Nah, I’ll be fine. I was starting to feel a little light-headed and a bit hungry too but thought it would pass.
In short, I was over-confident.
Before I even hit my first golf ball (in the car on the way to the course) I started to develop quite a bad headache.
How I Failed
Completely, but consciously.
I’d actually packed a couple of bags of peanuts in my golf bag. I know I have the will-power to resist, but it wasn’t a case of will-power. My head was really killing me by the 14th hole and I felt quite faint. So I had a few peanuts and then had a soup and a few cups of tea when I got home.
Why It Doesn’t Matter
It doesn’t matter that I failed this time. It really doesn’t. As I said in the beginning 1) because I tried, I drank nothing but water from 8am to 6pm and probably could have braved it out and lasted the whole day, but there is really no need to be a martyr about it, the thing that I’m looking for is sustainable change. As I wrote in my article about a diet system that works, it’s really important that whatever changes you do make to your routine, your diet, your life – are sustainable. Otherwise you will be in yo-yo land and could cause more damage than good.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, 2) I will try again (next week). In general, things are either getting better, or they are getting worse. These are the only two trends that matter. Assuming that I will do better next week (I’m certain I will) and that this is a beneficial and sustainable change (that’s the theory for the moment anyway, if not I reckon I’ll lose weight, get healthier and learn some more stuff along the way) – then we’re cool.
What I’ll Do Different Next Time
I think I’ll stick to my original plan of starting with water and tea only but allowing myself 5 cups of tea throughout the day. I will then reduce this by one or more cups of tea a week depending how I feel to get to water only worst case in 5 weeks (but probably sooner).
When It’s OK To Give Up
It’s never OK to give up.
I said above that you are not a failure if you keep on trying. Take the feedback from your experience and try again.
There is one caveat though.
What if that information, after one or more attempts tells you that this thing just doesn’t make sense anymore?
OK, then stop.
BUT – this is stopping, it is not giving up. It may be quite subtle but there is a huge difference. Stopping (assuming it’s genuinely the right decision) is allowed. Giving up isn’t.
Usually though, you just need a new approach.
It’s OK to fail. Successful people fail all of the time. The thing that makes them successful is not failing, it’s learning, refining and trying again, until they succeed.
Ironically failing does not mean failure. Failing, if anything means success – i.e. in most situations, to really succeed, you have to fail first. Again, assuming 1) You tried and 2) You get back up and try again (usually with new information and therefore a refined approach).
So this is a teeny-weeny example, but guess what? For really big things, the same rules apply. As long as 1) You tried and 2) you take the lessons learned and try again, then you are a success, not a failure. You’re only a failure when you give up. If you want a bigger example from me by the way, don’t worry, I have plenty of them 😉
Do you have any examples (big or small) where you failed but either gave up when you could have kept trying or kept trying and got the results you wanted in the end?