Ep #107: A Different Perspective on Failure and Fitness

Strong is a Mindset with Carrie Holland | A Different Perspective on Failure and Fitness
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We’re talking about failure today, specifically how failure relates to following your plan for eating and moving. Most people don’t like to think about failure, but in all honesty, failure is essential. So, if you’re stuck in pursuit of your health and fitness goals, it’s time to consider whether a fear of failure is holding you back.

You’re a high-achiever, so it’s natural that you don’t entertain the idea of failure. Talking about, admitting, and experiencing failure means bringing to light the ways we aren’t perfect. Nobody loves spotlighting the ways they’ve messed up. But this can quickly become shame, and shame is how your fear of failure becomes a roadblock in your life.

If you’re fear of failure is keeping you stuck, tune in this week to turn it on its head. I discuss how too many people believe that failing at something makes them a failure, share why failure is something you do, not something you are, and instead of following this shame pattern, you’ll learn how to own your mistakes without making them mean anything about you, so you can stop avoiding failure in the future.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

Get access to my collection of books that changed my life here! Check it out and find your next great read.

What You Will Discover:

  • How shame and failure go hand in hand, and the massive difference between shame and failure.
  • Why failure is something that you do, not something that you are.
  • How to see where you’re introducing unhelpful shame and negative thoughts to your failures.
  • A simple thought you can use next time you find yourself thinking you’re a failure.
  • Why you do better in the long term when you treat yourself with kindness after messing up.
  • How a fear of failure is stopping you from getting what you really want in your life.
  • Some new ways to look at failure, so you can use it to get what you want.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

This is the Strong Is a Mindset podcast, Episode #107. If your fear of failure is keeping you stuck, let’s turn it on its head.

This is the Strong Is a Mindset podcast, where you’ll learn how to build both a strong body and a strong mind by eating, moving, and thinking. I’m your host Physician, Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, we are talking about failure today. And yes, that really is what’s good here. We’re going to talk about failure as it relates to following your plan for eating and moving.

So, I think talking about failure to stick to your plan is a good thing. In fact, I think it’s essential, especially for the people I work with. And I’m hoping that after today’s episode, you might have a different take on failure too. Most of the women I work with, they don’t do failure, or at least, they don’t like to experience it. And they don’t like to talk about it. Admittedly, I didn’t either.

Talking about or admitting or experiencing failure means bringing to light the ways that you aren’t perfect; we are all imperfect. And who the heck likes to talk about that? I don’t know anyone who loves putting a spotlight on the ways they’ve messed up, it doesn’t really feel good. But here’s the thing I want to unearth from the get-go, because this is where your fear of failure can be a real roadblock.

Often, with failure comes shame. Failure can easily trigger you to feel shame. And while the two are separate, shame and failure are different, they often go hand in hand. So, shame often surfaces as a result of making your failure a reflection of your worth, your ability, or your identity. And that’s a really important connection there.

You take your failure, and you blow it up and make it mean all kinds of negative things about you as a person. You make it mean all kinds of negative things about your worthiness and who you are as a human. And that’s where we run into trouble.

But if you want to look at failure objectively, it simply means that you didn’t achieve your desired goal or outcome. Really, that’s it. You didn’t achieve the goal, that’s it. In the context of what I do, failure often presents itself when a client tells me, “I didn’t follow my food plan at all this week. I ate my weight in chips and salsa Saturday night, when I told myself I wasn’t going to have any. I made a plan to get up in the morning and workout, instead I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep every day this week.”

There are many more examples, and I’m sure you can think of your own. We all have them. We all have failures. But while failure could be as simple as you turning off your alarm and skipping your workout, you often make it mean so much more than it does. And that’s when shame comes in.

For example, rather than simply owning that you ate more than you intended at dinner out with your friends, you take it way beyond that and layer shame on top of it. You make your overeating mean all kinds of negative things about you; that you’re lazy, you have no self-discipline, you need more willpower. And ultimately, you make it mean that you are a failure.

And this goes straight back to what we’ve learned from Brené Brown, who’s considered the authority on shame. Instead of seeing that you failed to follow your plan, you make your mistake mean that you are a failure. That’s when the shame piles on. There’s a big difference here.

To make this very simple, failure simply means you didn’t meet your desired goal or outcome. You didn’t achieve what you set out to do. You failed at something; you ate more than you planned for dinner, you failed to get up early, you failed to eat fruit instead of ice cream. That’s it, you didn’t achieve your goal.

A key takeaway here is that failure is something you do, it is not something that you are. Where it gets complicated is when you take your focus off the outcome, and instead turn the focus on to yourself. To, instead of saying, “I failed at following my plan,” you tell yourself or me, “I am a failure.” Do you see that? There’s a big difference between failing at something versus being a failure, and it goes back to your identity.

So, when you mess up, and then you allow shame to seep in, you make your failure mean that you are a failure. You interpret your mess-up to mean that you are the mistake. But let me help you change that. Let’s go back to basics here.

Remember the connection between circumstances, thoughts and feelings. So, you having three glasses of wine with dinner, when you intended to have zero, that’s a neutral circumstance, right? It’s just a fact. You drank three glasses of wine. That’s neither good nor bad.

But it’s when you start to have negative thoughts about yourself as a result, that’s when it becomes a problem. It’s what you make that circumstance mean about yourself, and that generally causes you to feel shame. It’s what we’re making those three glasses of wine mean.

On the one hand, you could take the fact that you drank those three glasses of wine, and you can tell yourself, “I am okay. I am human. And I am practicing managing myself around alcohol. I can do better next time.” And you practice believing that, and living into that belief, by offering yourself compassion and committing to try again. To manage your alcohol differently next time. You own the mistake, but you don’t make it mean anything about you.

Or, on the other hand, you can take the fact that you drank three glasses of wine, and you can tell yourself, “Oh, my God, I cannot believe I did that again. Why did I do that? I’m never going to get a handle on my drinking. I stink. I’m a failure,” and on and on. So, do you see that you made those three glasses of wine mean you are a failure?

We took the same circumstance, drinking three glasses of wine when you intended to have zero, and we have two very different thoughts about it. You’ve got, “I’m learning. I’m human. I can do better next time.” Versus, “I stink. I’m a failure.” So, same circumstance, drinking three glasses of wine, two very divergent thought patterns. And as you can imagine, those different thought patterns are going to lead to very different outcomes.

So, to pull this apart even further, go back to one of my most favorite questions and ask yourself, “How does it feel to think that way? How does it feel to think ‘I am learning and I can do better,’ versus thinking ‘I stink, I am a failure’? One thought is going to feel a whole lot better than the other, right? And the point here is that you will feel a lot better if you treat yourself kindly when you mess up.

Okay, I know that sounds fairly obvious, but I think some of you need to hear this stated explicitly. So, I say it all the time, and I will say it again here, you cannot beat yourself up into better. You cannot treat yourself like garbage and expect to change for the better. It just doesn’t work that way. Please believe me, I have tried this approach. And being mean to yourself doesn’t get you anywhere.

For me personally, I don’t know that I would ever let any small innocent ears hear the self-talk that has gone on in my head in the past because it was so unkind. Loads of four letter words, lots of harsh criticism, lots of ripping myself to shreds, things I would never say to another human being. But I would say those things to myself all the time. So I was, and still am sometimes, very, very mean to myself.

All the while, I wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere in my life. I wondered why I felt so stuck. But now I get it. Now I understand the connection between your thoughts and your results. I understand that the way you talk to yourself matters. So, if you’re zoning out right now, come back to me and really hear this: The way you talk to yourself matters a lot.

How you talk to yourself determines how you show up in the world. So, please recognize that your self-talk and the sentences you tell yourself, those sentences are your beliefs. And it’s with those beliefs firmly planted in your brain that you will go and create, or not create, the results that you’ve got in your life; with that knowledge and understanding.

And believe me, this took years of therapy and coaching to get. But with that understanding, now I am much, much more careful about how I talk to myself. And I am onto myself. I know I say it on the podcast frequently, but that’s what I mean when I say “be onto yourself”. When I say that, I mean you pay attention. You pay attention to your sentences, you don’t just go on autopilot. You don’t think the same thoughts or the same limiting beliefs just because that’s what you’ve always done.

In the context of failure, when you pay attention, you notice what you make your failures mean. So, watch yourself. Watch the sentences that are scrolling through your brain. What are you saying? I did this. I did this work, and I still do it. And while it was super painful to see how negative I was towards myself, it also showed me the opportunity, in front of me, to change it.

So, I took it. I made a commitment to be more self-aware and catch myself in the act of ripping myself apart, especially in the face of failure. I made this an intentional engaged practice. Now I watch myself very closely, because I don’t want to go backwards, go back to that place where I can’t stand to be with myself because I’m so mean. I don’t want to be mean to myself anymore.

Instead, I want to take risks and grow and stretch and evolve and show myself what I can do. But I want to be kind to myself in the process. I want to be especially kind to myself when I mess up. And I want the same for you, which is where this episode is coming from.

So, for anyone listening who has equated your self-worth with your successes and your achievements as I have, you may be more prone to feeling shame when you fail. As a result, you may avoid any chance of failure like the plague.

Do you see the connection here? If you are someone who got loads of positive reinforcement when you succeeded, or if you only got attention from your parents, or the important people in your life, when you achieve something like all A’s ,or when you got into the big name school, or got the degree, or the fancy job, then you may know what I’m talking about.

Or if you got in trouble in any way for failing, then the message that you probably received was when you succeed, you matter. So, that was most definitely the case for me. It seemed like the only time my parents knew that I existed was when I brought home straight A’s, or when I got an award, or when I graduated medical school.

It was those times, and those achievements, that the message was made loud and clear, “You are worthy, because you succeeded. All the rest of the time, you might as well be invisible.”

And maybe you experienced your own version of this growing up, whether it was positive reinforcement when you succeeded, or serious negative reinforcement when you failed. Either way, it makes sense that failures would feel terrible when your self-worth is based on achieving and getting it right.

When you go and get it wrong, that can lead you to question your worth as a person if you have spent much of your life identifying by your successes. And if that was reinforced to you by family or friends, then heck, yes, it makes total sense that you would avoid failure like the plague, even if it’s something as small as not following your meal or exercise plan. Because that failure threatens your very identity.

Failure threatens the very foundation on which your identity is built. When you have built your self-concept and self-worth around your successes, or the things you do that bring you success, then it makes sense that failures are seen as something to be avoided at all cost. Because you make those failures mean that you are less than worthy. That’s fascinating.

And then, just to make matters worse, that fear of failure keeps you totally stuck. That fear of not getting it just right keeps you from trying new things and taking risks. That fear of failing keeps you miserably comfortable right where you are. Because why would you want to try something new and fail? It’s that fear that will keep you stagnant.

But what if you want more? What if you want to stop being the person who goes on and off diet? What if you want to stop being that person who never finishes an exercise program? What if you want to be that person who changes her life by creating a new system of habits? What if you want to be that person who takes a risk, tries something different, and creates an entirely different life for herself, then what?

Well, then you may want to take a different approach to failure. Because if you want to change your life, there are most certainly going to be failures along the way. You know this already. But you don’t improve without failing. You don’t evolve and grow without failing. That is just not possible. I don’t know a single person who got anywhere without failing.

So, this episode is for anyone who wants to change her life but is paralyzed by failure. My aim today is to help you see failure in an entirely different light. We’re going to turn failure on its head so that you’re not so afraid of it, so that you don’t make it mean anything about you. Because once you see what failure actually is, I think you might be less intimidated by it.

I’m going to give you a couple of different ways that you can view failure, so that by the end you see it as not such a horrible thing. Alright? So, let’s go. First, and this is probably my most favorite way of looking at failure, is to imagine failure as a data point. Again, remember what I’ve said before, failure really only means that you didn’t meet your intended goal at this one point in time.

So, your failure really is just a piece of data that tells you, “Hey, this did not work.” As an example, I had one client who, when she started working with me, was trying really hard to establish intermittent fasting. She had already been toying around with it here and there and then she started working with me. She really thought she wanted this to be her lifestyle, so she recommitted to it.

But for the first few weeks of working together, every time we met, she wasn’t sticking with it. She was an early riser, and she’d get up early to do her workout before work. And then, she was trying to hold off eating until at least noon. But inevitably, she would get insanely hungry and eat way before her window opened.

She was getting so hungry that she was totally overdoing it. And then, she was getting very down on herself and would repeatedly declare that she was failing at intermittent fasting. So, after the third or fourth time of this, I just asked her, “What if you’re not failing at intermittent fasting at all?

What if you’re being super hungry and needing to eat before your eating window? What if this was not a failure, but rather a data point that says, ‘Hey, this type of eating doesn’t work for you.’” It’s data, my client was not failing at anything. Instead, by trying intermittent fasting, she saw that she needed to eat in a way that did not work with a predetermined eating window. There was no failure here, she was giving herself data that said loud and clear, “Intermittent fasting is not for you.” It’s a data point, that’s it.

So, what if you could find your own data points? Like, what if you go the super restrictive route and cut your calories and your food intake way too low? You white-knuckle it for a few weeks, but ultimately you get super hungry and you don’t stick with your plan. Ultimately, you over eat when you just can’t do it anymore.

I mention this example in particular, because so many of my clients have tried this approach and it just doesn’t work. So, is that really a failure? Or is it data? I would argue that it is simply data telling you, “Hey, cutting your calories too low and restricting yourself all the stink, that does not work for you.” You didn’t fail, you got data that suggested your approach is not working. And that’s just that.

The more things you try, and the more times you’re willing to try, the more data you will get. And when you treat that data as objective, it’s just information, you’re not judging it. There’s no judging because you ate before your eating window, because you were starving. No. There’s no judging yourself when you restrict and restrict and restrict yourself to a point that you crack and overeat. That is information. It’s all data.

Then you get to decide what to make of it. And to take it a step further, what do you do with that data? What do you do with the information you gather from your failures? You learn from it. So, that’s the next thing I want you to consider. What if you decided that all of the failures you encounter as you change your habits are nothing more than opportunities to learn?

I do this exact thing with my clients. I created a podcast about it. I have a three-step process for dealing with mistakes or mess-ups. You can go back to Episode #69, that’s where I get into all the details about what to do when you fall off the proverbial “wagon”. Okay? There’s a bunch of information to take away from that episode.

But one of the things I talk about is my three-step approach to mistakes. Those three steps are:

1. Own and acknowledge your mistake.

2. Ask, what did I learn from this, and what would I do differently?

3. Eyes forward. Moving on.

Yes, when you mess up, you own it. You take responsibility for it. “I ate my weight in cookies this weekend. That is on me.” And that’s it, you don’t over identify with it and make it a big, huge deal. You also don’t under identify with it and brush it off like it’s nothing.

And the next step, which I think is the most important, is to ask yourself those two questions: What did you learn from your mistake? And what would you do differently? The important thing here is that your failure is an opportunity to learn.

If you are willing to do work, it’s one thing to acknowledge your failure, and that’s important, but if you really want to grow and change, and if you really want to avoid making the same mistake again in the future, take the time to learn from it. Use the failure as a learning opportunity to decide what you would do differently. That is essential.

So, if you made a food plan for the week that was complicated, fussy and full of involved, detailed recipes that require hours in the kitchen and loads of ingredients, and then you end up throwing away hundreds of dollars in untouched groceries at the end of the week because you didn’t cook a single one of those recipes, there you go. Own it. Acknowledge it. “I didn’t follow my plan.” Then ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?

I had this exact scenario come up for a client. She was trying to eat more meals at home, but she insisted that every dinner be an event. So, she had a file of at least 40 different dinner recipes. And these were legit, serious recipes. She would pick a few recipes from her file, and then she went to the trouble of buying the ingredients and the herbs and the veggies and all the things, only to throw it all away at the end of the week when it went bad and the food went unopened.

So, after this happened a few weeks in a row, we dissected this and talked through it. The learning point here for this particular client was, “I need simple. If I’m actually going to make dinner at home, it’s got to be simple.” She knew that she didn’t have much time in the evenings to pull dinner together. And after the end of a really long day at work, the last thing she wanted to do was pull out a bunch of pans and ingredients and make an elaborate dinner.

Even though she wanted fancy, and she wanted variety, realistically, she didn’t have time for that. And she also didn’t want to waste a ton of money throwing food away that she didn’t use. Then she answered the next question. Answered, what would she do differently? She realized that she needed a handful of one-pan dishes that she could pull together in 30 minutes or less, no fuss. And she put those meals on rotation.

That’s what she tried, along with some crock pot set it-and forget it recipes. And that was it, that worked. She and her family were eating at home. It wasn’t complicated, and she wasn’t wasting money or throwing food away. By pulling apart her failure, and being willing to dissect it, she was able to find an alternative solution. She didn’t give up and say, “Forget it. There is no way we can eat dinner at home. Takeout it is.”

No, she thought about an alternative, tried it, tweaked it, and found what worked for her so she could eat at home. And it wasn’t a big deal, because she didn’t make it a big deal. The only way she got there, and the only way she found what worked for her and her family, was by using those initial failures as learning opportunities. She had to be willing to go back and look at the mess-ups, pull them apart to find the takeaways, apply what she learned, and try something different.

Okay, so that’s just one example. There are loads of other ways you can use your mistakes as learning opportunities. I had another client who was new to planning her meals and, really, planning her food in general. So, when we started working together, she started planning what her meals would look like during the week.

She had her meals for her entire work week planned out, and she was pretty consistent and stuck with that plan. But then, when the weekend came, all bets were off. She would eat multiple meals out and eat pretty much whatever; whatever. And weekends were also when she tended to drink more alcohol. The end result of this was that she was not losing any weight; she was staying right at maintenance.

But rather than making this a failure, she used this as an opportunity to see that not only was planning during the week essential, but she also needed a plan for her weekends. So, that’s what she did. She started planning meals for the weekends, including meals out at restaurants. She made some decisions ahead of time, and made sure that she had groceries ready so that her fridge wasn’t empty by Friday.

And then when the weekend came, she had her plan. She practiced following her plan, and it made a difference. Her eating on the weekends became less random and more intentional. She planned out how much she was going to drink and stuck to it. It worked. She realized that having a plan for her weekends was just as important as having a plan for her weekdays.

Again, the only way she learned that she needed to do this was by trying something she planned for the week, carrying it out, and then had some failures on the weekend. She used those failures as opportunities to try something different, instead of giving up and saying, “Forget it, this is just how it is.”

And that’s just that. I want you to see something here. What if your failure is nothing more than a signal to try something different? Really, what if that’s all it is. Let me make this super clear. You will do so much better changing your habits, changing the way you eat, changing the way you move, changing the way you take care of your mind and your body, if you decide from the outset, that your failures are not about you, but rather they are about your process.

Do you see that in pretty much every single example I’ve given? And I have plenty more where those came from. The failures are an indication to try something different. And the more you make the failure about the process itself, instead of making the failure about you as a person, the faster you’ll get back to trying something and the faster you will be on your way to finding what habits actually do work for you.

And where I see this most commonly play out is in how you restrict yourself. Hands down, I would say this is the failure I see most commonly. And I think it’s largely due to diet culture, and what you think you have to do in order to lose weight.

Too many of you think the answer is to cut your calories super low. Give up most every carbohydrate altogether. Eat practically nothing all day, to save your calories for dinner and beyond. And give up foods you really enjoy eating. I have seen this over and over again, and I have seen it fail every single time.

And so what if this is you, or if this has ever been you? What if you made this failure mean that your plan or your process is not working, instead of restricting yourself all to hell, only to rebound and overeat? What if you made that rebound mean nothing about you, or your discipline, or your willpower, or your worthiness as a person? But instead you make this failure mean that your process doesn’t work.

There would be so much less yo-yo dieting, if you truly believed this, and if you really practiced this, okay? Seriously, if you really believed that the process of overly restricting yourself does not work, and it has nothing to do with who you are as a person, and has nothing to do with your worth, holy cow, there would be so much less cyclic dieting. There would be so much less beating yourself up. There would be so much less stopping and starting your plan.

So, really think about this the next time you try to restrict yourself super hardcore and it doesn’t work. Ask yourself, “What if this is not about me as a person at all? What if this failure is an indication that the process I’ve chosen does not work?” And then, “What can I do instead?” Here’s another thing for you to consider. What if you decided that every failure is an opportunity to tell yourself, “This is how I improve. This is how I get better. This is how I grow stronger”? Imagine that. And this is not to be all fuzzy and mushy, but rather to see your failure as your next opportunity to improve.

I’m drawing upon what we know about ideation, design, technology, and prototyping here to offer you an analogy, because I really think there’s something to be learned from design innovation. The very simplest example would be, think of the iPhone.

In order to arrive at the minicomputer that you carry with you everywhere you go, there had to be hundreds, if not thousands, of failures that led to the winner. There had to be loads and loads of failures and snafus before arriving at the iPhone. Not even Apple got it right out the box, okay? And the only way Apple was able to get to the iPhone as we now know it, is by failing over and over again, and building on what they learned with every iteration of the device.

So, now take that concept and apply it to your habits. Apply it to your nutrition and exercise. What if you are willing to come up with a plan, test it out, and look for the failures to tell you what doesn’t work? You keep what is working, and then you eliminate what isn’t working in exchange for an opportunity to try something that might work better.

If you have found, time after time, that trying to eat like a bird all day long, and eating next to nothing all day long, just does not work for you, how about you take that and build upon it? You realize that failure is a data point.

And instead of letting that be a reason to stop, you tell yourself, “Okay, this is how I improve. I am seeing that strong-arming myself and eating hardly anything, that just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I’m going to see what it’s like to eat a more substantial breakfast. I’m not just going to skip breakfast in an effort to save up calories. I’m going to see how this works. This is how I improve.” And then, you try it.

I’m going to bet a nickel that if you stop trying to restrict yourself throughout the day and actually eat real substantial meals, you will feel better. Or with your exercise. If you make plans to get up an hour earlier than usual, only to hit snooze every single time.

Instead of letting that be a reason to quit, you tell yourself, “Okay, this is how I improve. I’m not actually getting up an hour earlier, this isn’t working. So, how about I start out by getting up 10 or even 15 minutes earlier than usual instead? I will get done whatever exercise I can get done in those 15 minutes, and I will let that be enough.” And then, you try it.

And if you still fail at that, then you keep looking. You’ll see, “Well, I’m still not getting up early, and that’s because I’m going to bed way too late. So, this is how I improve. I’m going to practice going to bed 15 minutes earlier. Just 15 minutes, that’s the start.” And then, you try it. You see what it’s like to go to bed 15 minutes earlier.

And if that isn’t happening, you keep looking. “I’m staying up too late because I’m wasting a ton of time monkeying around on my iPhone. So, I will set an alarm at 10 o’clock to remind me to get off my phone.” And you do that.

Do you see what you’re doing here? These are all very slight, small, simple iterations on your habits. And then, you go and test them out to see what happens. You’ll see what tweaks work and what tweaks don’t. You’re essentially prototyping your habits with the expectation that something is going to fail. You are looking for failures, okay?

Go and try something, and go fail. Okay? That’s just that; I want you to go out and fail. I know that sounds funky, but in all honesty, that’s the truth. Here’s what I mean. When you fail, it means you tried something. It means you took a risk. It means that you tried something new or different, and got a result, whether it was what you were looking for or not.

But at least when you try something, you get a result. And that will feel so much better than doing nothing and getting nothing as a result. Or doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Remember, that’s Einstein’s definition of insanity. Instead, decide on a plan, decide what habits you want to implement, And then go try it.

Put in a real solid effort at following your plan. And then look for the failures. Go find them, that is essential. I want you to find the failures and try something different as soon as possible. That is failing fast. And the more you fail fast, the sooner you will be on your way to finding what works.

Here’s what I want to help you see. If you’ve decided that you can’t make any mistakes in the process of changing your lifestyle or changing your habits, then I would argue that you’ve decided you can’t change your lifestyle. Because the whole process of changing your habits, quite honestly, is nothing but a series of failures until you find the winners, until you find the habits that do work.

So, the more you are willing to fail and keep going, the more you are going to succeed. The more you’re willing to try and find a way of eating that works for you. And the more you are willing to keep going in the face of failures, the more you’re going to succeed.

Please, hear me loud and clear, be ready to make some mistakes. You can be afraid to fail, that’s fine, but don’t let it stop you. Don’t let the fear of messing up keep you from trying to change your lifestyle. You can most certainly feel afraid, but don’t let that be a reason to stay stuck.

As one of my mentors has said it many times, you gag-and-go. You let it feel hard, you acknowledge that it feels icky, but you go and do the thing anyway; you gag-and-go. I really, really love this concept, because it recognizes that you’re doing something uncomfortable but you’re not letting it stop you. It’s one of my favorite concepts, and I remind myself of it constantly; gag-and-go.

You can bet that this applies to way more than changing your diet or exercise here. Okay? And the last thing I’m going to add about failure, I know we just talked a lot about how it’s inevitable, so with that in mind, I want to caution you to watch out for the “might as well” approach to failure.

Meaning, you had a plan to eat your salad and chicken for lunch today, but you see that your coworkers ordered pizza and cupcakes. And instead of your salad, you eat a piece of pizza. Then you tell yourself, “Well, shoot. I messed up. I ate pizza. I might as well go all out and have more pizza. I might as well eat a cupcake too, because I’ve already blown it.”

I see this all the time. You may also hear it referred to as “the eff-it approach”. “I ate a handful of Sour Patch Kids when I meant to eat none. Eff-it, I’m going to eat the whole bag. I overslept and I’ve only got 20 minutes to exercise. Eff-it, why bother?” And then you go back to sleep. Those are some examples I’ve talked through with clients, and I’m sure you can probably think of your own.

I would, again, simply encourage you to be onto yourself. Notice when you let one mistake or one failure be a tipping point that turns into a series of failures. It does not have to go this way at all. You are in charge here. So, remember that any one decision is not going to make or break you. Okay?

One piece of pizza, or four pieces of pizza, when you meant to have salad and protein, that decision does not undo all of the other decisions that you’ve made in support of your goals. Okay? One greasy meal at a drive-thru, when you intended to eat at home, does not negate all of the progress that you’ve made. One missed workout does not put you back at square one and take away your fitness. Okay? I want to make that crystal clear.

Every decision you make is a new one. Every decision is really an opportunity to start over. And really, you aren’t even starting over, you’re just picking up where you left off. I really believe that, and I want you to believe that to be true for yourself too. You are never starting over. There is no reset, there is no square one, you just keep going. Okay? That’s it, you keep moving forward.

Because, really, the only decision that is going to stop you is if you decide to quit. If you decide that you are truly in this for the long haul, and you are going to succeed at changing your habits no matter what, you will recognize that:

1. There is no finish line and you’re never really done. You’re never really done with your habits, okay?

2. Failures are part of this process. If you want to change your life and change your habits, there are going to be failures along the way.

3. The sooner you move on from those failures, and try something different when you discover what’s not working, the faster you will be on your way to finding what does work for you.

And last, practice being nice to yourself when you fail. That’s going back to your self-talk. You cannot beat yourself up and do better. And you will feel so much better if you are kind to yourself while you change your habits. No one gets it right the first time, and no one gets right all the time. No one.

Practice being imperfect. Be willing to learn from it, and try something different. Keep going. Let the failures be reminders of ‘this is how I improve. This is where I get better.’ Alright?

And if you want help with this, let’s talk. When you coach with me, we strategize how you deal with failure so that you look for it. You learn from it, and you practice making it mean nothing about you. It is totally liberating, and it will help you change your life. Check out my website at www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact, and let’s talk about how coaching will change your life and change how you view failure.

Alright, thank you again for hanging out with me. I’ll catch you again next week. Hey, if you’re looking for your next great read, I’ve got you covered. Head over to CarrieHollandMD.com/books and download my list of most favorite reads. I’ve got two collections waiting for you. One is all about work-life balance. The other is a collection of books that have changed my life. I’ve referenced many of these books in the podcast, and now you can access those titles all in one place.

Again, that’s CarrieHollandMD.com/books. Check it out and find your next great read. Thank you for listening to the Strong Is a Mindset podcast. If you want to learn more about how to build both a strong mind and a strong body by eating, moving, and most importantly, thinking, check out CarrieHollandMD.com.

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