Learning From Failure –

The following post is by Guelph Physiotherapist and Pokémon enthusiast Veronica Wong.

In my last post, I shared ten tips for achieving your goals this year. I’m sure you all implemented them and are now goal-setting, goal-achieving masters right?!

Well if you are like 99% of the population, you are probably going to fall short of your goals and relapse at some point in your desired lifestyle changes. And that’s okay – it means you’re human! Today’s blog post is all about what to do when that happens.

Step 1: Take a pause. Notice what you are saying to yourself.

Are you beating yourself up for “messing up”? Are you critiquing everything you did wrong? Are you asking yourself “why bother”?

Step 2: Be kind to yourself.

Reframe your self-talk as if you were talking to a good friend. Ever notice how we tend to be our own worst critics? Maybe we think that it’ll help keep us in line, and maybe it does get us working harder in the beginning but it’s awfully hard to keep it up in the long-run when we’re constantly beating ourselves up. Kristin Neff, an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas, has actually found that self-compassion helps people remain motivated to exercise, quit smoking and to stick to their diets.

So congratulate yourself on the effort that you did put in. Celebrate any small successes you did have. Maybe you didn’t walk an extra 500 steps everyday but you did it for five days of the week. Maybe you took the stairs at work for three weeks, had a week off on vacation, and found it really hard to get back on the stairs after that. Forgive yourself for relapsing or not quite making it. Forgive yourself for being self-critical as well. However, being kind to yourself doesn’t mean just letting yourself give up (see step 4).

Step 3: Realize you are not the only one going through this.

Everyone has a tough time achieving their goals. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be this many articles on goal setting (when I Googled ‘goal setting’ on Jan 9, there were 17,800,000 results).

Step 4: Problem-solve!

Think about what happened, and how you can change your goal or be better prepared so that you are more likely to succeed next time. One of my favourite quotes, and one that I’ve had as the wallpaper of my phone for years, is:

Think of every “failure” as an opportunity to learn something new or something about yourself so you can do better next time. Try working through the following questions:

  • What did you try to do?
  • What problem(s) did you have?
  • What can you do about these problem(s) next time?

I’ve worked through an example of problem solving here:1

So there you have it. Ten tips for achieving your goals, and now you have four steps for what to do if/when you don’t quite achieve your goals. Now go out there and start changing your life for the better, one failure at a time ;).

What’s one failure you’ve had in the past that helped you get to where you are today? What did you learn from it? What’s your self-talk like? Tweet us @ClearPathChiro and let us know.

  1. Diagram template inspired by Bronnie Lennox-Thompson, OT at her Healthskills blog
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