4 Guaranteed Ways to Fail

Being out of college has left me feeling restless. I miss the constant sense of forward movement and a long-term goal. Even better was the feeling at the start of every semester that I could wipe away the last few months and start fresh.

Now I feel stuck, repeating the same cycles over and over again in my flailing attempts at self improvement.

But, to paraphrase Thomas Edison, I have not failed but simply learned many ways that don’t work. Here’s the cycle I’ve found myself stuck in, in the hopes that maybe by writing it down I can start to get out of it and that it might help someone else get out of their own rut.

Make a ton of goals

It’s so easy to start with one goal (i.e. “I’m gonna get in shape and lose a few pounds!”) and quickly get derailed. I should clean the house more. I really ought to make more of my own food and clothes. Oooh, I really want to get started on Etsy and the craft show circuit. Hm, and my blog’s been dead for like a month.

Have high expectations

Then comes the daydreaming.

As someone that’s way out of shape, fitspiration is merely thinly veiled daydreaming.

Suddenly I’m imagining myself next summer with a super model body, a financially sustainable handmade store,  a closet full of clothes I made by myself, and a spotless, minimalist apartment. Never mind that each of those by themselves would take months of focused effort to complete.

Work hard at all of them

Willpower’s a muscle, so I need to exercise it a ton. Except that this is the exercise equivalent of trying to bench press a car when I’ve only been able to lift fifty pounds.

After burning out, vow never to fail again and repeat the process

The self-hate is vital here. Really pound in that I suck, that I just need to try harder. Come up with a slightly tweaked but equally difficult version of the previous list of goals and repeat it all over again.


Hey, they say to write what you know, and you have to admit this is much better than a “so sorry it’s been awhile, life got in the way” post. If you’re looking for something a little more uplifting, I’d direct you to:

/r/GetMotivated – an active, friendly community that’s happy to offer advice and support alike

/r/ZenHabits – similar to GetMotivated with happiness and meditation advice as well

Nerd Fitness – whether your goals are fitness related or not, the six week challenges are an excellent format for goal setting