Monday, May 5, 2014

On Getting Off Track, Losing the Failure Mindset, and Picking Up the Pieces.

Monday, May 5th, 2014

On getting off track, losing the failure mindset, and picking up the pieces.

I believe I still owe you guys a blog entry on the Warrior Dash and all the glory that I felt that day. Please bear with me because I feel that today’s post should be given more importance than my own victory story.

Lately I have had MANY friends and Facebook allies tell me that they feel badly about the fact that they have “gotten off track” or that they have “fallen from the journey.” Some have even gone as far as saying that they have “tried and failed” and can’t seem to get the motivation to keep going.

I get it. Really, I do. These are real human emotions that if we didn't feel them, well, we would probably be categorized as felines or simians (or insert your favorite animal type here).

I will start with those of you who think you have “gotten off track” from your journey. From the time you are born to the time you breathe your last breath, it is all ONE journey. Consider that when you gave your first scream or came out with a powerful fist bump proclaiming, “I’m here!” that you began your journey aboard the train named LIFE. Your parents bought you a ticket, put you aboard, and helped guide you from one destination to another, reaching each one with finesse and flair. You never got off that train. After all, it’s called LIFE and you’re still living it.

If you were to look on a map of roads that train tracks are laid on, you will quickly notice that very few destinations are reached using only straight tracks without having to go through stretches of tracks that contain curves, dips, or inclines. The train doesn't need to stop before taking a curve. The train seldom stops before driving through a dark tunnel. Heck, the train could run miles and miles on auto-pilot mode, right?

This is exactly like your journey!

You begin your journey, whether it is weight loss, fitness, education, pregnancy, health-related, etc., and just when you feel that you deviated from what you or others perceive to be the perfect journey, do you feel like you got off the track? Do you feel like your train stopped and you can’t get back on the tracks? Does this sound like what you feel like after you had a cheat meal, cheat day, or skipped a few workouts (if your journey is weight loss)?

Let me remind you now and hopefully it sticks: you will not reach your destination on a straight track. You WILL have curves. You will have dips. You will have inclines. You just will. Expect it. Embrace it. Thank Creator for it. This does not mean that you have “gotten off track.” I will even go as far as saying that this in no way indicates that you have “fallen from your journey.” This means that you are progressing on your journey.

This reminds me of the time that I was working out with Sean and felt that I couldn't go on. My body was not doing what he wanted me to do and I felt frustrated that my heart rate was raising and my breaths were getting shorter. I will never forget how he saved me from myself that day by reminding me that he never said my journey would be easy; he simply said that it gets easier. In other words, it will never be harder than that first day of my journey. I have faith in those words. Sometimes faith is all I have.

So the next time you feel that you are getting off of the tracks of your journey, remind yourself that although the shortest distance between two objects is a straight line, the lessons you teach yourself on those curves are well worth the time it takes for you to reach your destination!

The failure mindset; that nasty trait that some of us have when things just don’t seem to go our way. We deviate from our plan. We don’t meet a deadline. We break a promise to ourselves. We didn't hit that weight loss goal at the end of the month. These are all examples of events that are important enough to halt our journeys. They don’t have to. As a matter of fact, they shouldn't!

You’re going to fail. There. Yes, I said it. YOU WILL FAIL! If failing means that you didn't fit into the dress you planned so long to wear, then you failed. If failing means that you have to take an extra semester to graduate because you need 3 more units, then you failed. If failing means that the scale reflected a 3 pound loss instead of 9 pounds, then you failed. So. What now?

The test is not in whether or not you will fail (because failure is part of the human experience); the test is in what your action(s) will be to pick yourself up. Repeat it. THE TEST IS NOT IN WHETHER OR NOT YOU WILL FAIL; THE TEST IS IN WHAT YOUR ACTION(S) WILL BE TO PICK YOURSELF UP!

Will you throw together another outfit that makes you feel attractive and call it a day, or will you spend your time and energy thinking about everything you could have changed to ensure that you fit in that dress?

Will you congratulate yourself for the lessons you learned towards healthier eating and moving your body, or will you spend your time and energy counting how many times you ate a bag of chips or a dessert before going to bed?

Will you look at how far you have come (against the toughest of odds) to graduate with a college/university degree, or will you keep berating yourself for needing to take extra time to complete it?

What do you choose? What will you do? How will you react to failing?

This, my friends, is the test. I am here to tell you that the test is impossible to fail it because I have given you the answers: get up, dust yourself off, and remind yourself that it is all part of the journey!

If this doesn't work for you…if you can’t seem to pick yourself up after failing and you can’t figure out why, let me know. I will remind you of all the ways that you are NOT FAILING. I will remind you that your journey is one worth being on, and staying on. I will remind you that there is nothing wrong with admitting that you need a helping hand. After all, my hand has been held throughout my entire journey…why wouldn't I  be willing to hold yours?

So we have determined that our journeys have curves. So I have implored you to get back up after your failure. How, then, do we pick up the pieces?

It’s exhausting to fail. It’s even more exhausting picking up the pieces. Trust me when I say that there is equal value that should be given to each. Acknowledge the failure—then bury the anger and disappointment that accompany it. Seek ways to change your course. Change your mindset!!!!

Not every setback is a failure. Consider it a lesson. Consider it a building block towards your pinnacle of success. Consider it a tool to place in your leadership toolkit…you never know when someone will come to you upset about actions that mirror what you have been through. Use everything you go through to push yourself forward.

Gather momentum. Pause for a moment. Catch your breath. Start again. Eyes on the prize. Pause for a moment. Is there something you need to change? Does your path, although curvy, seem clear of debris and obstacles? If not, focus on the things you can change—ONLY ON THE THINGS THAT ARE WITHIN YOUR CONTROL! Catch your breath. Start again.

Picking up the pieces is a never-ending cycle. Trust and believe in your ability to keep the lessons you will need for later, and discard those that will continuously promote failure. Your journey is worth YOUR weight in gold. Don’t let anyone steal it from you. YOU control it.

Life is good. Really, it is.