• Ben Yates

Failure is the key to success

Updated: Mar 9

How many times have you started some type of lifestyle or behaviour change only to get a few weeks in, something happens and you look yourself in the mirror saying, "I am a failure."?

In the early stages of dieting, you feel confident that you are going to succeed and that this time will be different from all the others.

You are very strict, follow your plan religiously and in the early stages, you might even see good results.

You have a similar mindset when beginning an exercise programme at your local gym.

You might start with a personal trainer and for those first few sessions, motivation is high and this time, that dream body is within reach.

It's right at this point, whilst your self-belief is higher than normal, that you should sit down and consider relapse (failing).

Failing is normal

When you learn a new behaviour, relapse is a natural, ongoing part of the process.

In fact, it is a necessary part of the process of improvement.

When you were younger and learning to ride a bike, you more than likely used stabilisers to help with your balance.

If you think about it, every time your stabilisers hit the ground or you fell off, this is a failure.

Yet, with each attempt, you learnt how to position yourself on the bike to rely less on the stabilisers and more on your own balance.

Eventually, your mum or dad would have raised the stabilisers higher, to a point where you no longer rely on them.

It will have taken several failures and bruises to get to that point.

Now, if you had quit at any one of those points, you would never have learnt to ride a bike.

The same applies to a baby learning to walk.

Each time they fall over is a failure but they get up, shake it off, and go again.

With each attempt a little stronger than the last. The baby has no concept of quitting, they learn from their attempt and keep trying.

Smokers have at least 5 - 6 attempts to stop.

Each attempt is invaluable as they will learn something new every time which will aid them in their next attempt.

It's important to remember though that your next attempt in whatever it may be, might not happen for years.

Part of the problem with relapse (failure) is that you can become very demoralised if you don't see it as a learning opportunity.

This is why it needs to be considered early on in your behaviour change process.

How to use failure to help you

Improving your nutrition and getting fit are new skills that you need to learn.

And with any new skill, when you just get going, you will have relapses.

Has anyone attempted to learn a new language and mastered it straightaway?

Thought not.

Yet, no matter how many times you get a word or phrase in the new language wrong, you catastrophise and stop.

You learn and understand where you are going wrong, practice the correct way and once you have the hang of it, move on to the next.