Great Advice : Plan to Fail

July 24, 2010

I was catching up on some reading today and I came across a nice post on change, which of course is a topic which always interests me.

What really struck me was the almost-throwaway last paragraph :

“One last note, to anyone making changes: you will fail. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to release you from the fear of failure … because if you already know it will happen, then there’s no pressure to avoid it. Failure is an inevitable part of change, and in fact it should be celebrated — without failure, we’d learn nothing. Fail, fail often, and learn. Then you’ll be better equipped for the next attempt. Find joy in every attempt, in every victory, in every failure, and the change will be a reward in itself.”  (Leo Babuta, Zen Habits)

Failure is opportunity in disguise
Creative Commons License photo credit: J-Tilicious

In my experience of many types of personal change, it’s a real Truth that people rarely tell you about – but Failure is part of the process.

Far from the “failing to plan is planning to fail” language used in goal setting and personal development, you could almost say “planning to fail is planning to make real change”.


Really hard.

And usually some of your first efforts don’t work so well, or you face an unexpected hurdle & stop, or you get distracted, or tired, or worn out, or burned out.

For those of us pursuing weight loss, I think this “plan to fail” is particularly important, because ours is a daily challenge that repeats itself again, and again, and again.  The exercise commitments which are hard to meet when the day is busy, the temperature is wrong, the energy is low.  The 2000+ food choices we make day in, day out.  There are plenty of opportunities for anyone trying to lose a few pounds to experience failure.

The real victory in change is getting past that failure and going back at it.

When have you failed, and learned?

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