We focus too much on preventing failure and not enough on bouncing back from it. We’re playing defense when we should be on offense.
Failure is unavoidable
“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same.” -Thanos
It’s natural to have an aversion towards failure. In small doses, it’s healthy even. It encourages us to strive for success. It pushes us to be better. But it only takes us so far.
The hard truth: failure is unavoidable. You won’t perfectly hit all your goals. On the road to success, you will experience setbacks.
Sometimes, the circumstances will be out of your control. Life comes in the way. Say you fall sick; then you can’t work out.
Other times, it’s an active choice. You may decide to skip the gym to catch up on sleep instead.
Either way, it will happen. What then?
It all depends on your mindset.
Don’t dwell on the loss
The weak give up. They dwell on their mistakes. Lament the failure. Re-affirm their negative self-talk. “I’m not capable of anything.”
This leads to a vicious cycle. When they lose believe in yourself, they stop trying. The habit slips and it reinforces their self-image. The longer it lasts, the deeper the hole.
The core problem: they staked their self-worth on the outcome. As a result, they didn’t prepare beyond failure. To them, it was make or break. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Failure is rarely catastrophic - it’s merely a setback. Skipped the gym for a day? Week? Month? Doesn’t matter; go today. Started smoking again after you said you’d stop? Doesn’t matter; quit again.
Focus on getting the win
The strong understand this. They persevere. They treat failure as part of the process. They know to detach themselves from the outcome.
Most importantly, they have a contingency plan ready. It would be foolish not to - setbacks are inevitable, after all. Instead of fixating on their failure, they spring into action and focus on how to bounce back.
They collect a win as soon as they can. Missed the gym yesterday? Go today. Binged on junk food last night? Eat a salad today.
This shifts the momentum in your favor. You regain confidence and flex your habit muscle at the same time. It nips the vicious cycle in the bud, allowing a virtuous cycle to grow in its place.
How to apply it
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
There are many ways to implement this. I’m particularly fond of the Two-Day Rule. It’s simple: never skip two days in a row. Without it, it’s easy to grind to a halt and not even notice.
This post took redacted minutes to write.
P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.