Motivation: Fail Forward

Motivation MayAs I’ve said before, there is no magic motivation pill out there to boost our drive. Most of us have peaks and valleys as we try to maintain motivation. Sometimes we have it, and sometimes we don’t. Hopefully the last three weeks have given you some insight into what motivates you and some tools to help set you up for success. We’re concluding our Motivation May series today with a post about what to do when your motivation starts to fall and you fail miserably.

There is a term I’ve heard thrown around lately called “failing forward,” and I think it’s a great concept we all should embrace. We are humans. We will make mistakes. We will mess up. We will fail. What we do with those failures, however, will determine if we find success in the future. We can declare ourselves failures and give up. Or, we can learn from our mistakes and use what we learn to better understand ourselves and make better goals the next time around.

If you are like me, your natural tendency is to go through a rough patch or hit a wall and want to quit. The internal dialogue in my head goes like this: “Oh well, that just didn’t seem to work for me. What’s the point? I’m just not cut out for this. blah blah blah …” And then I give in to the negative thoughts and quit. This is simply failing.

win or learnFailing forward starts out the same, but has a twist to help propel us to success the next time around. The internal dialogue goes like this: “Wow. That didn’t work at all. Why didn’t it work? What can I change to help me be successful next time?”  When we fail forward, we take the time to evaluate what can be learned from a situation and how to implement it. We ask questions like:

  • Why did I mess up?
  • What circumstances influenced my lack of success?
  • How could I set myself up for success next time?
  • Who can help me in the future?

We might discover that we failed only because we had an unrealistic goal. Maybe there were life circumstances that were beyond our control that made life difficult and that difficulty was temporary and won’t be there in the future. Maybe there are life circumstances that we can control and we can make a simple adjustment. Maybe you’ll learn that something is a trigger for you to eat unhealthy foods and you can be better prepared to fight that urge in the future.

Maybe you try a new exercise class and don’t enjoy going. Find out why. Maybe it’s just because you don’t know anyone in the class. Next time, invite a friend to go with you. Maybe it’s because it’s stressful to get there because you need to find someone to watch the kids or you have to fit it in between all of the things you juggle. See if you can swap childcare with a friend or make a change in your schedule to ease the stress level. Maybe you just don’t click with the instructor or the exercises being performed and you can know next time to try a different class.

Maybe you vowed to avoid sugar and did well for 27 days and then caved and ate a whole pan of brownies. Next time include a pre-planned cheat day so the urge to devour sugar isn’t quite as strong. Maybe stress triggers you to want to eat sugary foods. Evaluate how you can lower your stress level or, more realistically, figure out another coping strategy that doesn’t involve food. Go for a walk outside. Listen to music. Try some deep breathing exercises.

Those are two possible scenarios. I can’t know for sure what is a struggle for you. Sometimes it helps to bounce ideas off another person, so if you have a specific issue that gets you stuck, feel free to contact us and we can try to help. Message us through Facebook or visit our About page to get our contact information.

Making changes to improve our health means changing habits that might have been part of our lives for decades. We will find success when we give ourselves the grace to learn from our mistakes. If you consider yourself a work in progress, everything becomes a learning opportunity, even failures. Use what you learn to motivate you in the future!

And don’t forget about our Let’s Lose this Fat Challenge starting Tuesday! It’s much more motivating to do things with a group of people! Join the fun and lose some fat!


4 thoughts on “Motivation: Fail Forward

  1. f5lifestyle

    Nice article. I like the sentence, “We will find success when we give ourselves the grace to learn from our mistakes”. We are way too hard on ourselves 🙂


  2. Pingback: Keeping Score | The Journey

  3. Pingback: Motivational May | The Journey

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