Mistakes: Positivity, not Failure
Growing up, we’re told that mistakes are an important part of learning and growing as a person. We’re told to take lessons from each one, and to use those lessons to guide us through the obstacle course that is life. This is hands-down, some of the best advice a child can receive. It allows them to take life and make an adventure out of it, without fear of ruining things with a simple slip up.
So why is it then, that as we get older we tend to forget this advice?
This question is especially relevant when it comes to fitness, specifically when trying to change exercise/nutrition/lifestyle patterns for the sake of a healthier life. These are some of the most common things I hear, (and some of which I have certainly said myself in the past).
“I missed my workout yesterday; might as well start fresh next week…”
“It’s Monday and I’ve already strayed from my healthy eating plan. I’ll start next Monday instead.”
“I forgot to buy the fresh, chopped parsley for my grilled fish and veg dinner tonight. I’ll just eat that pizza I have in the freezer instead.”
“This workout feels extra hard today. I obviously suck at exercise and might as well quit now!”
“I’m so busy, I can’t fit in this 2 hour workout. Well I guess that’s my chance to get fit, gone out the window…”
… If you’re reading these and thinking, “Yep, that sounds like me, I’m never going to get round to sticking to anything!” Then please read on to consider a different approach to how you could respond to issues like these.
(Avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies)
“I missed my workout yesterday, let’s make today count!”
Your body doesn’t know what day of the week it is. Progress is progress and you’re going to make more of it if you start today than if you wait until next week. Plus, by next week, you’re going to have a whole load of extra bad choices that you’ll most likely allow yourself to make, due to ‘get-the-cookies-in-before-I-have-to-be-healthy’ thinking.
“It’s Monday and I’ve already strayed from my healthy eating plan. Well, that’s probably because my plan consists of 8 different changes, all of which scare the shit out of me and I don’t even like the foods I’ve planned to eat. I’ll get some veg into my next meal and try to drink 1 extra glass of water.”
Boom. Making nutritional changes requires a huge amount of courage, self-belief and self-love. Remember the whole “mistakes are important” advice I was talking about earlier? This is exactly that! If you wake up and eat a Pop Tart for breakfast then so what? It might not help you on your way to Results Town, but it’s done now, so look ahead, not behind. Learn from this mistake and move on to being awesome!
(Excuses vs TLC requirements)
“I forgot to buy the fresh, chopped parsley for my grilled fish and veg dinner tonight. Looks like I’m having this meal sans parsley, maybe next time I’ll put a reminder on my phone…”
Sometimes we create our own failures, when really we’re just looking for an excuse. If this kind of thinking is something you find yourself doing on the regs, then eat the meal you planned. Go out and buy some parsley or get creative and use a different herb (shock horror). But if this is uncharacteristic of you, then perhaps consider if this is one of those times that you just need to stop being a self hater. If you really want the pizza then eat the pizza. It’s not the best choice in the world but you’re not going to die.
(Reasonable discretion > all-or-nothing)
“This workout feels extra hard today. I probably didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Or maybe I haven’t been fuelling myself with the right foods for a workout. Either way, I’ll push through and then afterwards I can give myself an internal high five, ‘cos I’m awesome.”
If exercise was easy then there’d most likely be a minimal occurrence of obesity and other physical and mental diseases. Workouts can he hard, but pushing and challenging yourself is good for the body and mind. The sense of achievement and wellbeing that you feel when you complete a challenging workout is hard to beat. It can well be the very thing to keep you motivated when you feel like giving up. Keep pushing yourself, keep challenging yourself and never tell yourself that you should ‘just give up’.
(Timing and appropriateness)
“I’m so busy, I can’t fit in this 2 hour workout. I think I’ll find myself a workout that doesn’t take this long. I suppose there are millions of different options available, so I’ll choose one that fits in with my lifestyle.”
Decision making can be a bitch. But just take a couple of seconds to consider your options. If you’re a busy person, then overly long workout plans are probably not the best choice for you. If you hate running then don’t plan your fitness on cross-country. If you like high-intensity workouts, don’t try to get fit by attending aqua aerobics… It sounds simple, but you’d be amazed at some of the decisions made from thinking that it’s the ‘right’ one. You may have made decisions like this yourself. Next time you find yourself making a decision because you think it’s the ‘right’ one, ask yourself, “Right for who?” You’re probably not going to stick to something that you dislike, so choose what’s right for you.
It’s how we react to mistakes that determines failure or success, not the mistake itself.
Don’t let the idea of failure turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bowing out at the first mistake is the easy route. Like the song says, tomorrow is always a day away, so stop waiting; challenge yourself today and become victorious.
Obstacles will always be there, mistakes will probably always be made. But if you take them and learn something positive from them, then I say that’s a success, not a failure.
You are strong, you are powerful, and you are capable of achieving your goals. Go get ’em tiger!
Thanks for reading, you beautiful souls! Have you struggled with decisions and/or not allowing yourself to make mistakes before? Please leave a comment below and share your story!
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