What Happens When You Fail?
Excuses are the biggest obstacle to adopting and maintaining good habits.
For this reason, these “Do Something Everyday” challenges are easier than a “Do Something Three Times a Week” challenge. The absolute nature of these “Do Something Everyday” challenges apply tremendous positive force to integrate new habits into your life. They are bulletproof to excuses. You can’t say, “Maybe I’ll skip today and do it tomorrow instead.”
There is a flip side to this though. The problem with these “Do Something Everyday” challenges is that every once in a while you will really, really need to skip a day. That skipped day isn’t even that big a problem. The problem is the day after that and the day after that. As soon as the challenge loses it absolute nature, it looses its teeth.
This is like the dieter that has two pieces of chocolate cake, and then says, “Oh well. My diet is ruined. I might as well have a few more pieces.”
Failing one day does not mean that you have failed the challenge. It means that things just got harder and it is up to you to overcome, persist, and prevail.
Before you start a personal challenge, make up sensible rules and even escape clauses. For example, if you are trying to give up caffeine:
- “I can have X units caffeine if I’ve had less than Y hours of sleep” is a sensible rule.
- “I can have X units of caffeine if I am driving and staying awake is a safety concern” is a sensible rule.
- “I can have caffeine if I’ve had a bad day” is the type of bad rule you would make up in the middle of a bad day. Don’t let yourself do this.
So, make your rules first and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t give up. You haven’t failed. Stay the course and try harder.