Failing Small (And State Your Round 4 Goals)

There is a disturbing trend in American society (and, dare I say, Western culture in general) to have an All or Nothing attitude.  We make these grand, sweeping (and totally unrealistic) goals of “I will do X every day!”  “I will never eat chocolate again!”  “I will stop ordering cheeseburgers every time I go out to eat!”  Whatever the statement, it’s usually well intended but utterly moronic and setting yourself up for complete failure.  Because change is hard and it’s challenging and your brain is automatically programmed to abandon ship at the first sign of distress or failure (it’s actually programmed to derail you in a lot of ways–go read the article, it’s very interesting).

So the first time you slip up and have a Snickers bar, or that first day you oversleep and don’t work out, or that first weekend you don’t write–your traitorous brain is sitting there like the devil on your shoulder, saying “well it’s all over now…you’ve already messed up.  Forget the slippery slope, you already blew it.”  And then your subconscious gives you permission to blow your diet the rest of the week.  Stop running.  Stop writing.  Whatever.

This is a grossly illogical way to think and you do yourself and your goals more damage by engaging in this kind of thought process.

Here’s a newsflash, people: Y’all are human.  You’re gonna screw up.  Life is gonna rear up and bite you in the butt.  This is as inevitable as death or taxes.

Part of what I want you to learn by participating in ROW80 is how to FAIL SMALL.  Instead of saying “Well, I ate out at lunch, so I might as well cheat the rest of the day since I already blew it”, say “I won’t cheat two meals in a row.”  Instead of saying “I’m going to write EVERY DAY”, maybe it makes more sense to say “I won’t miss two days of writing in a row.”  You may very well have stretches where you write every day.  But if you miss a day here or there, then you ought to have that much impetus to get back to it tomorrow.  Learn to be okay with these tiny failures.  In fact, don’t even think of them as failures.  Think of them as Human Moments–those points in time that prove you aren’t a machine.

This concept will be particularly salient this round as it includes HOLIDAYS.  So, keep that in mind as you state your goals for Round 4, which (for you newbies) you will write up in a post on YOUR BLOG, then link back to in the linky below (that would be the thing that says CLICK HERE, not the comments section).

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list of other ROWers’ goals…

15 comments

  1. Love this advice, Kait! It’s especially difficult to have this attitude when some published authors have said things like, “If you aren’t willing to sacrifice your sleep, your sanity, and your firstborn child to write every single day, then forget it; you’re not a real writer.” Writers write, but it isn’t in stone that you write every single day for some particular amount of time. Once you start soaking up stories from all of those bestsellers, you find that their processes vary quite a bit. Writers write, and they figure out how to make that work for them, so I love the idea of failing small and getting back in the game.

  2. This is my third time doing ROW80, and I’ve learned two things: keep your goals simple, and there are no winners or losers. I now understand that it’s okay to have a bad day, or week, or even month. Life happens.

  3. Kait, this is exactly what I have been trying to say to people all through Round 3. Thank you, I did a happy dance when I read it last night! Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. It will kill your motivation and throw you into limbo.

    Best wishes.

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