I Hope You Fail And Here’s Why

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Last November, I was gifted an Apple Watch, and the main thing I use on it is the Activity app. It tracks how active you are each day with three rings.

Move: Your personal goal of how many calories to burn.
Exercise: 30 minutes of "brisk activity."
Stand: Moving for at least one minute per hour for 12 hours of the day, to ensure you aren't sitting for more than 60 consecutive minutes.

The objective is to close each ring (AKA meet each goal) every day. This has been ingrained into my daily routine. I am always aware of it, always striving to move more to complete them (and, you know, to improve my health). Sometimes that has meant going for an evening walk or squeezing in a quick yoga session at 10 p.m. Most days, I close all three. Over the past eight-ish months, there've only been about 20 days when I haven't.

Needless to say, I hold myself to it.

A week or two ago, during my kettlebell class, my instructor said something that I've thought a lot about since. She told us to fail.  She said that if we're achieving our goals consistently, then they're too easy. She urged us to push ourselves, to lift heavier weights, until we couldn't do anymore. Because here's the backward logic to failing...

We need to fail in order to make progress.

We need to know what our limits are. We need to find what the next step is that we can't achieve just yet and work toward that. Otherwise, we're staying in the same place.

When she said this, I thought of my three Activity rings. I know that sounds silly, but they're three goals that are on my radar every single day. And I'm consistently meeting those goals, which suddenly became... not as impressive.

I don't want to sell myself short. I do think I deserve a pat on the back for being active every day. At the same time, it's clear that I've mastered the current goal. It's time to kick it up a notch, to actually make it a challenge for myself. Otherwise, what's the point? Goals require effort.

Now when a new week starts and my watch proposes a higher Move calorie goal, I don't lower it back down to a level I know I can reach. I accept the higher number and I try that out. If I fail, fine. That's my new goal to work toward. Eventually, it'll be the norm.

This applies to all areas of life, not just fitness. Any goal you have, take it a step at a time, and if when you stumble along the way, well, that's progress.

We have to be OK with failing.

Failing doesn't mean you're a disappointment or that you're done for good. It means you've established your next step.

I'm working on being more comfortable with it. I like being good at things (duh, who doesn't) so I'm much more inclined to stay at a level where I'm sure I'll succeed than strive for one where I may not. But that's not how progress is made. Goals shouldn't be easily obtained without any effort, they should be just out of reach.

So for your own good, I hope you fail sometimes. And I hope I do too.

What do you want to work so hard on that you fail?

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