Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘will power

Failing Is a Prerequisite For Success

leave a comment »

This weekend I ate way more than I had planned. I’m not worried as dealing with bad days is part of my plan. The experience does prove a point about the overestimation of the value of will power.

I am what you would call a type-A personality. When I set my mind to something, there’s nothing stopping me – I’ll just keep going until I succeed or the cost of continuing outweighs the benefits of success. I’m not saying this to boast but rather to make it clear that I am not an indulgent person who lacks self-control or will power.

This past Saturday, when I got the urge to overeat, I first tried to determine if the urge was a genuine need for food or if it is just the body’s survival instinct overacting. Based on my calorie intake for the day and my level of exercise, I did not need to eat more – in fact I was already over.

I had enough food to eat so I reasoned that I had to ignore the urge. That worked for about an hour but the urge was so great I couldn’t focus. I gave in and ate before my next planned meal. But then I ate some more. While watching a movie with the family, I ate a large Hershey bar with almonds and some Chex Mix. I don’t remember everything I ate, just that I kept eating.

While this was occurring, I became fascinated. The urge to eat was overriding my conscious decision not to. It was like the analytic part of my mind was overthrown by the animal part. All I could do was observe and try to figure out what I could do to prevent this from occurring in the future. I knew the urge to overeat would eventually run its course and I would be back in control again.

Today, I am back on track and had no trouble with overeating.

The point of all this is to illustrate that will power can only take you so far. It doesn’t matter who you are, if the urge to eat is great enough there’s nothing you can do to stop it entirely. There’s no point in feeling guilty when you have a bad day. The best thing to do is to try and figure out what triggered it and make plans to continue.

The big difference between people who can stay on track and those that don’t is how they handle set backs. If you have in your mind that you can’t control your weight, whenever you have one of these setbacks you see it as confirmation of your self doubt. If you remain objective, you would see it as part of the process and move on.

Every time you fail and get back on track, it becomes easier to stay on track and the consequences of failing become less. Over the years, I’ve become very good at failing. Every time I fall down, I learn from it.

This last setback was way overdue. I had been on a good run of exercising and eating right for the past three months. My body fat is now down to the single digits and my strength is at peak levels. During this period, I knew it was just a matter of time before something gave and I was surprised I had  maintained my discipline for so long. Now that I’ve had my setback, I feel like I’m staring another period of training – like hitting reset.

Perhaps when most people experience a setback, it’s like a release valve is triggered and they need to reset and start again. When starting out with a lifestyle change, that release valve might get triggered more often than for someone whose been doing it longer.

Developing will power and discipline is like developing a muscle. When you hit your point of failure, you are going to rest no matter how determined you are. The key is keep trying. Every time you hit that point of failure, you stretch your discipline and like a muscle it will grow stronger.

Don’t use a failure as an excuse to quit

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm