If you had a new year’s resolution this year, by now you’ve probably hit your first rough patch. (If not, hats off to you!)
The first difficult part of the journey to lose weight, make more money, get more freedom, or whatever your goal is.
You might even have given up and stopped trying.
And that’s fine.
But it’s time to get going again.
Failing is simply part of life for anyone who strives to do better. To be better.
We all have our ups and downs, sometimes so many downs in a row that it’s discouraging, and sometimes so many ups in a row that it’s downright awe inspiring. But to have any chance of getting where you want to go, you have to actually keep going no matter the weather.
So place one foot in front of the other, and repeat indefinitely. Although that’s not all there is to it, it’s a good start.
Give Yourself As Many Chances As You Need
You only ever truly fail when you give up. When you stop trying.
So what if you had an accidental binge day, or you skipped your daily workout once, or had a terrible week and everything went to shit.
In the grand scheme of things, those aren’t even failures. They’re more like speed bumps. And everyone has their fair share of them in their own journey.
The only way they get to have an impact, is if you let them. If you use them as an excuse to give up. To throw in the towel early.
The last two weeks I’ve been all over the place. I sort of got a cold, but I’m not really sick, just not 100%, and I used that as an excuse to be lazy. I fell out of my daily and weekly routines and fell back into my entertainment addiction.
In a sense, I failed. I could let that be the end of my journey. I could accept defeat and tell myself that changing is just impossible for me. Because I have all these special weaknesses that work against me that no one that is successful ever had to deal with with. Or, I could accept my relapse. I could think about what I could have done to prevent it, and move on.
At first I was planning to write this and publish it for the Chinese New Year. With the angle of a second chance to start over.
But then it hit me. You don’t need a second chance. You already have as many as you’re willing to give yourself. You don’t need the symbolism of a new year to create a new you, you have a new opportunity to change your life for the better every time you open your eyes.
So don’t beat yourself up and get stuck because of a tiny bump on the road. Take it in stride and get moving again.
Don’t Bet It All On Willpower Get A Little Help From Your Friends (Or Make New Ones)
Although it’s hard to measure something intangible like willpower, and it varies somewhat from person to person, I would argue that it has a limit. At the very least, I know that my own amount is extremely limited. Maybe because of my own impression of my willpower, but the limit is there either way, regardless of cause.
So instead of running face first back into another brick wall, I took a different approach. I’ve reached out to people. Made friends. Gotten help when I needed it, I even have an accountability partner, and then of course, there’s the accountability I get from writing about things here.
Failing, once, twice, even a hundred times is all simply part of the journey. And if you try to do that with pure willpower, how many times does it take until you give up? Will you last long enough to succeed? Even if you have complete faith in your willpower, it doesn’t make sense to go it alone when you don’t have to.
You might feel like you’re in a unique spot. Like no one can truly understand your goals and your struggles, but that’s just very statistically unlikely now isn’t it!
So either share your current endeavors with a few of your close friends, or make new ones along the way.
Make It As Enjoyable As You Can
Especially if you’re working on something on the side, the last thing you want is for it to be as mentally exhausting as your day job. To avoid this you can for example:
- Interact with your audience.
- Make friends who are trying to achieve the same things.
- Listen to music when you write/work out/work.
- Remember to take breaks and days off.
- Make sure you go into something that you have sustainable interest in.
- Don’t be afraid to change it up if you feel completely stuck.
I’m only scratching the surface with this, but you get the idea. You know better what works for you than I do. Ask yourself these questions to help your thought process along:
- What do I do when I have a GREAT day?
- What are the key differences between that and a normal day, and could I use that in my daily routine?
- What can I do to make the process as painless as possible? (Remove distractions, prepare in advance, having a specific location to work towards your goals)
- What has worked for me in the past? (How did I succeed at doing something else in the past?)
Embrace Your Weaknesses And Work Around Them When Necessary
We all have weaknesses. They’re not something to be shunned, feared and ignored. You should get to know them intimately. What makes things worse and what makes things easier.
I’m not a the most motivated or energetic guy, and as I already mentioned, my willpower falls very short of everlasting. So while I felt completely at home during my studies, where I only had to give maybe 50% 15% of the time, it’s just not enough in the real world.
So what should I do? Lie down and admit defeat?
I try to cultivate habits that propel me towards success, in spite of my relatively unproductive nature that I cultivated for far too long.
Ludvig at start gaining momentum just wrote a post about systemizing your efforts to avoid relying on motivation to get things done. Which explains how to tackle this particular issue more accurately than I could myself.
So if you suspect that a certain part of you is keeping you from succeeding, or being happy or healthy, do something about it. Don’t let that insight go to waste.
Learn And Grow
Even if you’re completely unable to reach success at the moment, doesn’t mean that it’s inevitably out of reach. Your failures will often indicate your shortcomings, and over time you can grow to overcome them. Instant, easy success is a myth and no “secret” or “ultimate technique” will change that.
This is not the first time I’ve tried to earn a living online. From I was 15 till I was 18, I got obsessed and suckered into a shady area where the business model was based on making money by teaching other people how to make money online. As their first business. Some of my amazingly shitty articles actually got spread throughout the interwebs and are still hiding out there in cyberspace today.
But this is the first time that I’ve reached out to people, made friends, and gotten accountability from others. Coincidentally it’s also the first time I’ve ever made any(noticeable amount) of money online. (I secretly suspect that it’s not really a coincidence.)
It’s also the first time that I stopped just focusing on ME. Instead of asking myself how I could make money online, I focused on what worthwhile services I could provide to others. And through daily practice, my writing has become one option. Through my own experiences with creating and tinkering with websites and WordPress, I’ve started to develop another.
I might not have “succeeded” yet, but I’m getting there. One millimeter at a time. And I’m not giving up early. I’ve already amassed a staggering amount of what if’s during my short time on this planet, but this is one that I’m not willing to concede.
The Bottom Line
Before you can succeed, you have to try. You have to give yourself a chance to excel. A chance to blow all your expectations out of the water and tell your cruel fate to go fuck itself.
Life’s too short to settle. You’re worth more than that.
Picture credit: David Herrera