Archive for the tag - failure

Failure Isn’t an Option – It’s a Step.

tumblr_m6jcsbPvst1r3v6qfo1_500Let’s talk about failure.

When it comes to fitness, the gym, losing weight – or really, life in general – many of us are afraid of failure. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in failure. I believe in results. When we do something, we produce results. In the absence of judgment, those results are neither bad nor good.

There’s a famous story about success and failure that goes something like this: Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when trying to invent the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”

Whether or not it’s true, the story points to a very real truth. When we set out to transform our bodies, we sometimes experience setbacks and challenges. But these obstacles aren’t failures; in fact, they’re an important part of our fitness journey. And sometimes these so-called failures are really just important steps over which we must climb to get where we want to be.

When I first decided to run a five minute mile, I threw up trying. Was this failure? No, it was part of the process. In fact, I failed for nearly two months. On day 58, I finished my mile run in 4:58. You could say that I failed 57 times, but looking back, it’s much more accurate to say that these failed attempts were an integral part of my progress.You won’t fail at the gym. Sure, you’ll experience challenges – we all do. But you’ll pick yourself up, learn from your experiences, and drive yourself forward harder and smarter than before.Free yourself from the fear of failure. Let. It. Go.

How to Overcome the Fear of Fitness Failure.

When I work with clients or talk to people about their fitness goals, many express a fear of failure. For some people, it seems easier to do nothing than invest time at the gym and risk falling short.

To those who fear fitness failure, I have two points.

First, I like to remind my clients that it’s important to ‘fail’ at least half of your fitness goals. If you’re achieving everything you’ve set out to achieve, then I’d suggest that you’re not aiming high enough.

Secondly, maybe ‘fail’ isn’t the right word. As personal growth guru Dr. Wayne Dyer points out, there’s no such thing as failure:

Failing is a judgment that we humans place on a given action. Rather than judgment, substitute this attitude: You cannot fail, you can only produce results. Then the most important question to ask yourself is, “What do you do with the results you produce?” It is better to jump in and experience life than to stand on the sidelines fearing that something might go wrong.

Dyer then goes on to cite the example of a child learning to walk. Inevitably, the child will fall down many times as he or she discovers how to use their muscles and balance. These falls aren’t failures; they’re learning experiences.

Indeed, you may go to the gym with the goal of losing 20 pounds over the next three months. Maybe you’ll only lose 10. Or maybe you’ll gain 5. Rather than considering this a failure, view this as an important result. And then do something with the result. You know that you’ll need to change some of the variables – like the exercises performed, gym frequency, duration of exercise, diet, etc.

Learn from your results, and then evolve accordingly.

Failing Your Goals.

If you’re exercising, then you probably have goals. If you don’t have goals – make them! Otherwise, it’s like taking a road trip without a destination in mind.

And if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to write down your goals. I like to write “SMART” goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Since my goals are specific, they contain a “by when” date. For example, I might want to increase the circumference of my biceps by 1 inch by April 1, 2011. When April 1 comes along, I can evaluate my results.

But here’s the kicker: Though our goals should be attainable – i.e., it’s physical or mentally possible for you to accomplish whatever goals you create – they shouldn’t be too attainable. Failing to reach about 50% of your goals is a good thing. It means you’re shooting high. It means that you’re really pushing and challenging yourself. After all, it’s better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon than aim for the mountains and reach them.

If you’re reaching all your goals, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.

And remember, “failure” really isn’t failure. It’s just a result – and it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your goals. Maybe you didn’t accomplish it because it’s actually not that important to you. Or maybe it needs a new deadline, or a new approach. Learn from your results, and evolve.

Want questions do you have about goal setting? And what are some of your fitness goals?