The Fear of Failure

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? Or health and wellness goals for 2017? How are those going for you?

I didn’t make specific goals this year. I haven’t in a while. But for the past few years, I think about making the same four goals: Running the River Bank 25K, giving up added sugar, finding more ways to “let it go,” and finally writing that novel.

So why not just jump in and set a dang goal already?

To be honest, it’s simple…. And silly: Fear of failure.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We don’t end that relationship, cut that friend out, quit that job, start that workout regime, quit smoking, or find ways to be happier because we’re afraid to fail. In our crazy-busy society we’re all about winning in the sense of perfection: being the skinniest, being the strongest, having the right amount of curves, having the most muscle definition, eating healthy but realistically enough, being the prettiest, having the fewest number of wrinkles, not looking our true age, working out the most during the week, never having a bad review at work, succeeding at work, having an amazing and loving relationship, being universally liked by our coworkers…. I could go on.

It still baffles me as to how we all became so engrained with those ideals. Where did they start? Have they always been there? There are a million answers and at the end of the day, the fact is you’re you and only you. You are wonderfully made and imperfectly perfect. We all have flaws and yeah they stink, but if we truly, sincerely think about it, would being perfect really make us 100% happy?

I don’t think so.

Does that mean you shouldn’t make goals? No, I’m actually saying the opposite: You should make goals. No matter what they are.

Research is finally revealing study after study that says we are only as healthy as our minds are. Meditation isn’t just a voodoo, granola-y practice anymore—it’s got science to back it up. Meditation isn’t just about sitting and pretending to be nothing or chanting “om.” It’s about letting your mind escape from the frantic world we live in; letting go of the deadlines, the problems, the fears, the expectations, and just focusing on your breathing.

It’s not easy. I’ve been officially practicing meditation since September 2016 and I’m still not very good at it. Some days are better than others—I can pretend I’m sitting on the side of a stream’s bank with the water trickling noisily and the sun warming my back while my worries, problems, and thoughts float up and away on clouds (sometimes the same thought floats away on 7 or 8 clouds). Sometimes I’m in bed, sometimes I’m at work, sometimes I’m on my couch; sometimes there’s music, other times not.

I just read two articles that talked about allowing more play, creativity, fun, and love into our lives, and letting our minds deviate from the “I have to do this” and “I need to do this” realms. Science is showing that letting go and letting loose a little more often (even just a few minutes a day!) can do wonders for our mental and physical health. Yes, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly helps, too, but mindfulness is becoming a bigger factor in our overall health and well-being.

So what about my goals?

I started training for the 25K and got hurt—again. Now I’m on a strict no-running regime for two months. Ouch. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be exercising every day; I just won’t be running.

Added sugar: I’m trying to focus on eating at least two servings of fruit a day and three servings of veggies a day, and if I have a treat after dinner (which I usually do), then oh well. I’m going to savor it and move on. I don’t want to live without the sweet treats so I’ll just have to settle for never having a six pack 

Finding more ways to “let it go”: I’ve been doing that. I like acupuncture, I love reading, I enjoy writing in a journal, I’m finding more time for meditation, and I’ve been doing at least 5 minutes of yoga a day. The jury is still out on what helps the most, but I’m finding bits of happiness in everything I try.

The novel…. Well, I’ve started it. Haven’t touched it in a while. I know fear is holding me back still. Why? Because I have high standards for myself. I’m working on letting them go and picking up where I left off. Sometimes jumping in is the best. Which means I think I’ll pick it up this weekend again 

What are your goals? Be honest with yourself: Why haven’t you been chasing them more sincerely? What happens if you don’t chase them? Will your life get worse or better because of it?