Do you screw up?
I really hope that your answer is yes, because if you never screw up then you’re not really pushing yourself to do anything.
So what is a “screw up”?
It’s a mistake, an error in judgement, or a bad decision. A screw up can happen unintentionally or it can be intentional. Like you know you’re not supposed to do something, or that you’ll regret it but you do it anyway – like having that second, or third, margarita.
The pattern for many is to make a mistake, either intentionally or unintentionally, with their goals and to then give up. Like, “hell, I had a package of cookies so I guess I’m off my diet.”
This is unfortunate for a number of reasons.
- Any change or improvement is difficult and will be full of screw ups. That’s part of the process. If you don’t allow for mistakes or bad decisions and you expect perfection from yourself, then you’re setting yourself up to quit before you really get started.
- You’re setting the wrong goals, potentially. If you find that you make a mistake and then you quit, then it may mean that you’re not setting the right goals for yourself or that at the very least you’re not creating a supportive plan to achieve your goals. It may mean that you’re pushing yourself too hard to achieve your goals.
- For example, let’s say that you set a goal to lose 30 pounds, a very respectable goal. You give yourself 3 months to accomplish this goal and you decide you must lose 2.5 pounds a week. And maybe you decide that to lose 2.5 pounds a week you must exercise an hour a day, and that you have to reduce your caloric intake to 1,500 per day. This approach doesn’t work for many, so while your goals may be doable, the plan to get there isn’t. So you struggle, you make mistakes, and you quit. All you really need is a better, more doable, plan.
- You may be overlooking something important. Sometimes we focus on the easy things without looking deeper. For example, maybe your plan to lose weight isn’t working because of hormonal imbalances. It may have very little to do with what you eat and how much you exercise. Addressing the hormonal imbalances should be the starting point, not diet and exercise.
So let’s get back to how you recover from screw ups in a way that supports you to move forward and to not give up.
- Be honest about the mistake. You made it, whether it was intentional or unintentional – it happened. Own it. Here’s an example of an intentional mistake: eating a bag of cookies when you know you’re going to feel awful afterwards. An unintentional mistake might be to eat something that had dairy in it and made you sick so you then have to spend the next two days on a BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) Diet to recover from your dairy reaction. Both are mistakes and both set you back from achieving your goals.
- Figure out why it happened. Why did the mistake or screw up happen? What led to the situation? Did you not read a label? Were you too busy or you were too shy to ask the waiter if there was dairy in the dish? Did you not give a f*ck because you were stressed out and those cookies just tasted too good? If that’s the case then you have to dig deeper. Why were you stressed? What led to the bad decision or screw up?
- Forgive yourself. Okay, now it’s time to let it go. You made a mistake. It’s not idea but it happens and it’s okay. Take a deep breath, own the mistake, forgive yourself, and move onto the next step. If you find that you struggle to forgive yourself for making a mistake, then you have some more work to do around this. Why can’t you forgive yourself? What has happened in your life to lead you here? What steps can you take to begin to forgive?
- Move forward with a plan. Once you figure out what happened and why it happened, and you let it go, the next step is to move forward with a better plan. One of the keys to success with any goal — be it a health goal, a personal goal or a professional goal — is to be adaptable. If Plan A didn’t work for you, then figure out why and create a new plan that will work out. Keep trying. If you were stressed and you ate cookies then maybe it’s time to work on stress reduction habits or to stop buying cookies, or both. You get the point.
Success from where you are now to where you want to be isn’t a linear path. It will NEVER be a linear path. There are mistakes to make, lessons to learn, and issues to uncover along the way. Be willing to learn and grow. Be willing to make mistakes and to try again. You have goals for a reason, right? You want to be the best version of yourself. You want to be happy and healthy. You can do it! Keep trying, learning, and growing — and if you need a little help along the way, reach out and let me know.