It’s one thing to make plans; it’s quite another to execute them successfully. For a variety of reasons, plans don’t always work out. Quite often, but not always, those reasons are completely outside of our control. At any rate, here is the question: if we made a plan, but it didn’t work out, did we fail?

Be careful how you answer that.

Certainly, on one level, not executing a plan properly or complete is technically a failure, so there’s that. That concept of failure is quite simple, and we can reduce it down to not succeeding, or not doing something we are/were expected to do.

If our idea of failure or success is binary, meaning we have either failure or not-failure (success, or not-success), then we sort of paint ourselves into a corner; if we didn’t succeed at something 100%, then we failed 100%. There’s not much room to draw anything positive from a new or challenging experience if that’s our outlook.

I propose that we re-evaluate how we think of both success and failure. In my view, these are not binary, but fluid, and certainly not mutually exclusive. I am thinking about this today because I have spoken with a few folks who did not accomplish all they set out to. We may have only partially completed our February wellness challenge, but I would argue that we were still at least partially successful. The parts that did not get accomplished are data, no more, no less. They tell us that perhaps our targets were over-ambitious, or that our effort was “sub-optimal” (how’s that for a euphemism!?). Or – none of the above! Life may have crashed in on us and, through no fault of our own, our opportunity to participate was taken away by a setback.

So, to quote The Dread Pirate Roberts (or Westley, the farm boy), “Get used to disappointment…” It happens. We don’t always accomplish our goals. We are often disappointed. What is most important is how we respond to it. My recommendation is to affirm what you have been able to accomplish, and be proud of that. As for the things you didn’t accomplish – the empty checkboxes on your chart – we still need to acknowledge them, but is it really that big a deal? My advice: take down the chart! Immediately. Charts “motivate” us by pointing out what we have not yet accomplished. We might do better with a Success List, where all our small successes get posted.

I did say I think the things we didn’t get done – our unaccomplishments – really serve as data. We can possibly use these data another time, in another challenge possibly, but we need to get over any tendency to feed and coddle our disappointment and see it as a failure. We should be honest and acknowledge our disappointment, but not focus on our unaccomplishments; we need to focus on and celebrate what we have accomplished.

February is almost over. My hamstrings have been at least a little bit sore since about January 25th. I’m looking forward to the calendar flipping over to March tomorrow at midnight, when 2019’s 10,000 Kettlebells for Parkinsons challenge will be over. I’m proud of what we have accomplished, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over any unaccomplishments. They’re over-rated.

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One thought on “DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Disappointments and Setbacks, and Failure”
  1. I did not succeed due to sub-optimal performance on my part, however I did incorporate several long walks with my grand-dog in the snow as well as several days of swimming so I don't feel like a total failure. My chart only showed the days I rode the bike so it looks super but I know that I did not reach the goal I had set. I was on the couch a little less however 🙂

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