What Would You Do If You Knew You Would Not Fail?

Success in Venice Beach

Or…Did Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Throw You Into a Funk?

What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” is a question that gets a lot of press. We are told to reach for the stars because, well, that’s the only way to get there.

Fair enough. But reaching for the stars can be overwhelming. There is a reason why only 8% of us stick to our New Year’s Resolutions all year. We are afraid we won’t succeed. Or we slip up and figure our chance is over—after all, it’s called “Whole 30”, not “Whole 13 + Whole 6 + Whole 11”.

But what if we didn’t focus on success?

What would you do if you knew you were probably going to fail?

I can hear your incredulous voices, “Why would I try something if I think will fail? Amy, are you f**ing nuts?” Well, maybe. It’s a distinct possibility much of the time—just ask my kids, or my husband! But what if I’m on to something here….

If even a small part of what I am saying makes sense to you, take that part and see how it fits in your life. It might make a difference. It might make a big difference.

Let’s say there is something you really want to do. Run a marathon. Eat healthy. Practice mindfulness. Join the Resistance. You’re afraid to start because the effort seems so daunting. You could try breaking your goal up into smaller tasks and then scheduling the smaller tasks one by one until you reach your goal. That works for a lot of folks. There are many evidence-based strategies to help you stick to your resolutions.

But I’m not talking about your how, I’m talking about your why. I’m talking about your motivation.

woman jogging on Venice Beach

Imagine this scenario: You have decided to run the Los Angeles Marathon. You’ve always wanted to run a marathon, and you’ve decided that 2019 is your year—failure is not an option! But what if your three-mile jog seems so small, so far from running that 26.2 in under 4 hours, that you feel dejected and kind of pathetic. (or is that just me?)

It’s hard to drum up the enthusiasm day after day when your goal seems so far away and difficult. You’ve told yourself that “failure is not an option”, but that seems ridiculous. Failure is a distinct possibility at this point. Getting out of bed an hour early and putting on those running clothes seems a total waste of time.

But what if you told yourself, “I may not make it in under 4 hours. I may just walk the last few miles. Hell, aren’t there people who just walk the whole damn thing? I could do that!”

If you knew you couldn’t possibly succeed at running the whole marathon from start to finish, would you still train? How would training look different if you stopped thinking about the end goal as the whole raison d’être for the training?

What if you did your research, made a training schedule, and then just ran every day for the sheer joy of it. Some days would suck, sure, they always do. You would run those days anyway because now you are a runner. And when you run on those crappy days, you know that pretty soon you will have one of those days where the sun is shining, and your legs are pumping, and you can feel your heart sing. Oh, and you’re training for the marathon.

The point is not success or failure, the idea is to take the end goal completely out of the equation.

Sure, we have goals. We will always have goals. But maybe the point is to love what you are doing whether or not it leads to any kind of commercial, or even measurable, success.

Now let’s get really crazy! Ask yourself,

What would I keep doing if I could never even know if I succeeded or failed?” Do THAT THING.

meditating on Venice Beach

Would you run most days, rain or shine? Would you make the choice most days to eat a nourishing meal rather than grab that Cheetos and Coke from the machine? Would you meditate just for the peacefulness it brings you? Would you call your senator or knock on doors or organize a march just because you love it?

Find your joy in the quest—whether you run, meditate, march, or whatever. Because the days when everything clicks, when you’re in the “flow”, when just the act of running or cooking or meditating brings you great happiness, then you have unlocked the secret to a lot more than a successful list of New Year’s Resolutions!

So yes, make thoughtful New Year’s Resolutions. Make a plan to help you achieve those goals. Break each goal down into smaller and smaller steps. Schedule these steps on your calendar.

 And then let go of the result.

Maybe, dare I suggest, this could be your real New Year’s Resolution— to let go of the goals once you have made the plans. Then every time you head out the door for another run, or sit down to eat a healthy meal, or volunteer to work the polls, and are able to be in the present, to enjoy this way of expressing yourself in this moment, you have achieved success!

Overwhelmed in Los Angeles

Does the new year still seem daunting? Are you still feeling overwhelmed from everything that happened in 2018?

 If you are struggling to get to a place where everything seems manageable again, therapy can help get you there! Give me a call at 323-999-1537, or shoot me an email at amy@thrivetherapyla.com, and make an appointment for a free 20-minute consultation, either on the phone or in my office. We can talk about your specific situation and how therapy can help. I want 2019 to be your best ever!