Give Yourself The Chance You Need To Succeed

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?

Obviously not.

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

16 Responses

  1. Ludvig Sunström February 5, 2014 / 8:58 pm

    Hey Ragnar,

    Love the image/quote. In most cases I agree with it (80 % of success = showing up), but not in networking. It’s just the opposite there, showing up is the prerequisite, and the 80 % come from the follow-up. 🙂

    ” 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.”

    — Haha I’d love to read it if you’d care to send it to me!

    “I might not have “succeeded” yet, but I’m getting there. One millimeter at a time. And I’m not giving up early”

    — Indeed. Keep going further.

    PS: Thanks for the mention.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 6, 2014 / 5:17 pm

      Haha, I love that. Showing up doesn’t really matter that much for networking does it. If it did everyone would have a network of massively successful and inspiring people.

      And I came across your post with such perfect timing that it was really a no brainer.

  2. Wan Muhammad Zulfikri February 7, 2014 / 11:57 am

    Ragnar, you have already succeeded.

    At the very least you have succeeded in inspiring people who read your blog.

    Sometimes I think that I don’t give myself a chance to remember my past successes because I thought the past is the past. But if I stop for awhile and look at what I have done, I definitely felt astounded of the things I’ve done no matter how minuscule it may be.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 7, 2014 / 8:01 pm

      If I’ve achieved that then I have achieved more than I thought I would ever achieve when I started my first blog.

  3. Steve February 9, 2014 / 1:47 am

    Oh yes, it’s that time of year again when people start giving up their New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t been a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions for the past few years simply because I think that if there’s a change you need to be making, you should be making it whatever time of year it is, not just New Years. That doesn’t mean I always reach my goals though. They say that most New Years resolutions fail, but I’m willing to guess that if you compared them to most goal-making, it would be about average.

    That’s life though. You have to get up and back on top of things when you start to fall behind. It’s not always about setting goals and reaching them, it’s sometimes about setting goals and re-committing to them over and over again.

    • Ludvig Sunström February 9, 2014 / 10:02 pm

      “Oh yes, it’s that time of year again when people start giving up their New Year’s resolutions.”

      –Hahaha… For me, I’ve never, ever, thought along the lines of, “oh, it’s a new year, now i will accomplish my dreams!”. My concept of time is different.

      • Ragnar Miljeteig February 13, 2014 / 11:55 am

        Now I’m curious! What does your concept of time look like? Do you separate everything into short term/long term. Or the present and later?

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 13, 2014 / 11:52 am

      Yeah the funny thing is that it becomes like an excuse for inaction for many. If people used it as a deadline to have their plans for change finished, and then used the symbolic power to start their new habit, then I feel like it would go better. Most people just put off even thinking properly about things for the new years, rush into it and then fail. And then they accept that failure and don’t get back up. Long term goals is all about re-committing. You are going to fail, how you react to those minor, and not so minor, failures will determine whether or not you succeed.

  4. Lea Bullen February 9, 2014 / 8:51 pm

    You’re absolutely right. You don’t need anything really to start anew. Just do it. Don’t bother wasting anymore time.


  5. jamie flexman February 10, 2014 / 2:29 pm

    I’m a big believe in not being too hard on yourself. We all have off days and we will never be good at anything initially, but that’s where good old fashioned hard work comes into its own.

    Work your ass off but take time out when you need a break. That there is the key in my opinion. Embrace failure and treat it as a necessary process we must all go through to achieve our goals.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 13, 2014 / 11:59 am

      Yeah man, beating yourself up can sometimes be worse than the actual failure, especially when it’s small. And I think it’s largely because we misrepresent other people in our own thought processes. Successful people are thought of as people who are on 100% of the time, who never falter and don’t need to take time to care for themselves because they’re basically superhuman. When we compare ourselves to that unrealistic standard, and think that ONLY that will be success, ONLY if we reach success without failing at all can we feel good about ourselves, we are just inviting failure and misery.

  6. Razwana February 11, 2014 / 5:29 am

    Not relying on will power is definitely a great way to stick to life changes that we’ve made. Why fight with will power when deciding not to eat bad food? Don’t have any of it in your house – problem solved!

    My friends and I got very serious about building new habits this year and decided to form a group where we check-in with each other daily, to have some accountability. And if we go off track, we give money to our most hated cause. I picked a UK political party which has Nazi-esque morals. So it’s been VERY easy for me to stick to my habits!

    When accountability or system aren’t enough – find a way to keep you motivated.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 13, 2014 / 12:03 pm

      That sounds like a way more effective approach than what most people end up doing. It’s very much aligned with what research shows is effective, so you’ve set yourself up for success in a big way. All that remains is to follow through! ^^

  7. Chris Bailey February 16, 2014 / 8:11 pm

    Spot on post my friend. This reminds me of a forgiveness teaching in Buddhism that a lot of folks use to be kind to themselves: the AFL rule. It stands for Acknowledge, Forgive, and Learn.

    I think the technique follows what you wrote about: first acknowledge your mistake/challenge, forgive yourself so you don’t needlessly punish yourself, and learn from the experience so you can use that knowledge the next time.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 18, 2014 / 2:41 pm

      Buddhism has always been fascinating because much of what it teaches seems to be practical and applicable timeless advice for better living, instead of archaic rules. If I had seriously pursued my interest when I was first properly introduced to it at 18 I wonder where I would be right now, haha.

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