Some days, when I’m struggling, I think of a line from Dr. Suess’ Oh! The Places You’ll Go:
Suess, in this often gifted book on success, spends significant time talking about failure, and in a few lines remind us how important embracing failure is on our life’s journey.
I’m a big fan of brilliant, risk-filled, end of the second act and onto the big action sequence kind of failure. It’s what makes movies great and victories sweet.
But most of our failures aren’t bold, they’re boring……
They consist of lapsed gym memberships, half-written novels, neglected food logs, and ignored Duolingo notifications. If you’re a small business owner it can be an un-revised website or a stack of record-keeping that “you’ll get around to.” This failure is not pretty or glamorous, it just happens, or in most cases, doesn’t happen. It derails us slowly, or keeps us from even getting started.
My husband says, “at least there’s always a wagon to get back on,” and he’s right (and adorable…and my proofreader). The only way to get there, is to get going, but before you do, it’s wise to reflect on what derailed you so you don’t repeat history.
Can’t or Won’t?
When Gretchin Rubin, author of the Happiness Project goes on tour, people line up to tell her why they “can’t” adopt one of the many happy habits she has discovered. I hear this a lot too, sometimes from my own mouth, but ‘can’t’ is unproductive, and words influence our thinking. Saying can’t means you lack the ability, and in most cases, what you really mean is won’t. So when I think, “I can’t workout, I’m too tired,” that’s incorrect. I have the ability; I’m just doing it wrong. I’m trying to work out at night, when I’m out of gas. When I realize it’s a choice, I can focus on fixing my schedule rather than fixating on fatigue.
Use the Lazy
Many of us buy into the idea of “no pain, no gain.” Problem is, the brain disagrees, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain when possible. When we start something new, our brains give us a dopamine reward. As the habit becomes routine, but not yet automatic, the reward declines. Suddenly, the fact that your shoes are out in the car is enough to keep you in bed instead of out running (yes, our/my brain is that lazy). So go under the radar and remove anything you might use as an excuse. The less effort your habits require, the more likely your lazy brain will keep them. So, if you have a bad habit of getting one of those awesome pretzels at QTKitchens…..get your gas somewhere else with less awesome junkfood (sigh). It really does work (sigh).
Don’t wait until the right time
If you are waiting for “the right time” to start something awesome, odds are, you’ll still be waiting in a month. If your goal is to open a business, or grow your client base, don’t wait until you have everything perfectly in place. Start by using positive language, “I am a communication’s trainer” or “I make jewelry” rather than “I hope to be a consultant someday.” Then, do one thing everyday to push it forward. There’s never a “perfect” time to do anything, so might as well get started.
Progress is key. The examined life, full of pursued goals is far richer than one lived in neutral, and if at first you don’t succeed, fail brilliantly. In the words of Seuss, “Your Mountain is waiting, so be on your way.”
Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and an Organizational Strategist for TEDx Gateway Arch and runs her own small jewelry company, Geekery Gal. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving mama. She loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter,