“Plan to Fail.”
- The Uphill Skater -
As much as this column has told you to always be positive over the years, I am now telling you to plan to fail. As shocking as this may seem, I recently read as book about successful goal achievement, which devoted a chapter to how to cope with failure and still maintain your goal intention, self-esteem and conviction. Living a healthy lifestyle, the tagline for this column, has frequently discussed the topics of both goal achievement and self-esteem, but in the context of success, not failure.
Failure is bound to happen along the road of life. It is not always going to go perfectly, as planned or desired. You won’t always lose those five pounds in the first week. You won’t always get that promotion. He won’t always call on the Monday after a Saturday date. Sometimes life just doesn’t roll your way. When I tell you to plan to fail, I mean just that. Some people call it Plan B; others call it a fork in the road. I call it a goal reset alert.
As we set goals, the first thing we should do is to be realistic. One should not plan to run faster than the speed of light. It’s not attainable. However, it is doable to plan to walk your dog up the block every day. That is a realistic goal, though, even a goal this simple can be stymied by rain, a hurt knee, a sick dog, or 100 other things. Try to plan for interruptions, so it doesn’t deter from the main intention, which is to get more exercise. Plan B? Walk around your house, exercise to a DVD, watch an exercise show on television, go to the gym, or an exercise class. Keep the original goal, but give yourself “failure resets” as a fall back that keeps the main idea in place.
It is good to change a goal that has turned out to be unrealistic. Maybe you thought you could finish a project in a week, but it looks like it will take a bit longer if you do a good job. Make doing a good job the goal, instead of finishing in a week, which will compromise quality. We are all stubborn and prideful when it comes to meeting goals, which is a good thing, until it becomes a road block to completing something well. If that happens, be flexible. Don’t let it get to you, and don’t let others question your reset.
These truths apply to things like portion control and food choices. Let’s say you decide to consume 900 calories today and someone brings homemade éclairs to the break room. Perhaps you will choose to tough it out, but you may also decide to have one and then watch it at dinnertime, or simply wait until tomorrow to reset your goal. If this is part of a long term plan—and it certainly should be—one day and one slip will not kill anyone. You must just know it is a slip and not a complete backslide into old bad habits. In fact, most surveys dealing with food consumption, tell us deprivation of the occasional slip will eventually lead to binge hell—an epic fail, which crushes self-esteem.
Back to the plan to fail, or what I would better term as “open options.” Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra famously advised, “When you come to a fork in the road you should take it.” I second that. Things don’t have to go in one, and only one, way to be successful. Plan carefully, but always look to the future as an open book, rather than a rigid list pinned to the fridge. There is no one path to success. Success comes not only in reaching a goal, but also in enjoying the journey. After all, isn’t that what makes life interesting?
P.S. Look for new recipes, reprints of Skating Uphill articles, and interesting
comments at my BLOG: www.skatinguphill.com Love, Judith