Reading the countless articles that pop up during this time of the year covering New Year’s resolutions, goal setting and habits, you quickly realize the predominant theme: do not fail. More importantly, do not fail during the first (insert any number here) of days. Why? Because chances are high that you will let go of the goal altogether, or you will not succeed in establishing a new habit...and those are bad things.
Failing early on is the perfect test of your level of commitment and grit.
I do really wonder why people think that way. While the next statement might sound sarcastic – it’s not – I do strongly believe that running into difficulty early on is the best thing that can happen to you and your goal. Any goal you let go of when the first obstacles arise is not really a goal worth going for, is it? Letting go of such a goal or habit early on will save you countless amounts of effort, frustration, discomfort – you name it. In my opinion, failing early on is the perfect test of your level of commitment and grit, almost acting like a mental time machine, letting you know about the most likely future outcome.
I have seen countless people adopting an all or nothing attitude. "I will never ever...", "From now on out I will do this every day, no excuses". To me, this is almost like writing your own hall pass to get out of taking an exam. You define your goal and include clear instructions on how to fail it. The path to forming a new habit or to reaching a goal is not black or white, it is a melting pot of factors that are specific to you, your life, and your situation . You will need to adapt to changing circumstances, things will come up that make the going hard, and you might even have to press pause at some point.
If failure doesn't stop you, nothing will.
Here’s my advice: embrace the challenge of forming a new habit or setting a goal. Don't be afraid to fail early on to see how you recover. Be proud of doing something that can't just be done on the side, without any struggles. We have written several blogs covering what you should keep in mind when setting your new goals and about strategies that will take you to the finish line.
It’s not my advice that you fail on purpose, but simply accept the fact that you will likely fail at some point along the way. In most cases failing to reach a set target does not make any difference in your ability to still get to the finish line. It is much more important that you are able to recover, able to regain traction and that you manage to stay with your goal throughout the ups and downs. Denzel Washington said it best: 'Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish' This includes getting over lows, setbacks and failures. As you move forward, difficulties will become your best chance to make it to the finish line…because if failure doesn't stop you, nothing will.