Fear of failure is a big impediment to starting up new, healthier behaviors. But how do you define failure’s sly sister “success”?
What if “success” wasn’t a matter of going through the motions and checking off boxes (“meditation three times a week–DONE!” or “huge salad everyday at lunch–DONE!”) but of learning to love yourself more completely and to be flexible in identifying and pursuing whatever qualities you really want and need?
1. Know what you really want.
This is a big one. You might think that having a beautiful body is what you really want, but I bet that what you’re craving is actually closer to appreciation, acceptance, happiness, or love. Beneath every real-world gain (weight loss or more veggies or better sleep) there’s a much deeper, more primal, need. If you can identify those deeper longings, you’ll be motivated to stay committed to manifesting your heart’s true desires.
2. Be real about what you are capable of.
This is a plug for slow medicine. You might *want* to meditate for 45 minutes six times a week, but if you’re currently at zero or five minutes once or twice a week, then it’s essential that you take a deep breath, be realistic, and give yourself time to get there.
Pace yourself. Identify a teeny-tiny manageable step, and then stick to it. If it turns out that what you *thought* was manageable actually isn’t, then scale back again until you have a specific small step, and a solid plan for how you are going to incorporate those small steps (that will definitely make a big difference over time), into the web of your life.
3. Re-evaluate as needed. (Be flexible).
This is a further plug for number two (“be real”). Are you saying that you do yoga three times a week but really only going twice? Go ahead and scale back by making two classes a week your goal. It’s perfectly fine to aim for three classes a week and then redouble your efforts to make sure that you hit two. That third class, when you make it, will feel like a sweet spoonful of honey melting into your tea.
In the same vein, if you’re trying to definitely make two yoga classes a week do-able, then you should probably map out four options so that you have some reasonable back-up plans. Life will happen and there will be misses, so have an extra class time (or two) in the back of your mind to set yourself up to succeed.
4. Find a friend or an accountability buddy.
This doesn’t even have to be someone you do your self-care activity with. In fact, it’s actually even better to just have a friend on stand-by to reach out to when you’re not quite feeling up to the task at hand. This person can be someone you check-in with at set times or someone you call on as needed. Set some guidelines with your friend about what kind of support you might need, and tell them what your heart is really craving so that they can lovingly hold a light up and help illuminate your chosen path. A trained professional, like a therapist or an acupuncturist, can also function well in this role–checking back in on a regular basis to support you in sticking with, and adjusting, your goals.
5. Guilt and Shame are worse for you than gummy bears.
I’m serious here. Guilt and shame and isolation are so much worse for your health than actual candy. If you’re really wanting to connect your face to a huge pile of candy, go for it. But do NOT do so in front of a screen, while multi-tasking, or while doing ANYTHING else. If you’re choosing to indulge in an activity that you know in your guts is harmful for your health, do it consciously, commit to that experience and savor it, or call a friend and have them help you identify why you’re drawn to this destructive behavior. .
Depending on the depth of your longing, or how long you’ve been struggling with secretive or harmful behaviors, it is very possible that you mean need professional help from a therapist or other medical professional. For your own safety and for the wellbeing of yourself and your family and friends, it’s really important that you seek help when you need it. There is absolutely no shame in needing support. If you’re worried about yourself or feel overwhelmed by harmful behaviors, definitely get help. If you’re not sure how to contact a therapist or doctor, find a friend and ask them to help you figure it out.
An initial twinge of guilt or shame can be helpful; it lets can let you know that something isn’t right, that you’re not acting in alignment with your values. But when you continue feeding, and start to dwell in, these judgmental self-assessments, guilt and shame get patterned into your thinking and can hold you back from living a life that you love.