Changing your course in life is not a perfect process. There is no magic switch you can flip to go from Habits of Disease one day to Habits of Health the next day. Intuitively, we know this to be true–which is why New Year’s resolutions have become a running joke–but we still beat ourselves up when we make mistakes or do not find immediate success.
And that’s okay. You have likely been conditioned to believe that making a mistake is akin to total failure. Breaking a lamp as a child may have gotten you grounded, even if it was an accident. An error at work can mean an uncomfortable hour in your angry boss’s office. And when you see yourself mess up, you come down on yourself as hard (if not harder) than the other people in your life.
This is not how we learn. This is not how we grow.
A mistake is not the same as failure. If you are running a marathon, tripping and falling does not mean the race is automatically over. Is it painful? Sure, but all of the progress you made so far is not erased, and if you get back up, you can finish the rest of the race. With the wrong mindset, however, you could falsely believe that your one stumble is the end of all of your hard work when really it is not.
For example, skipping your daily walk because you had a bad day is a mistake, not a failure. You are still on your journey to optimal wellbeing. You can make the right choice the next day. Nothing has ended, and you are not less of a person for having stumbled.
We all stumble because we are all human.
The Habits of Health perspective on these moments is to recognize where you struggled and to learn from that moment. What triggered the choice that you made? What was the outcome of that choice? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you do? What can you do to better equip yourself to make the right choice the next time you face this situation?
You don’t need to give up. You don’t need to dwell on what went wrong. Dust yourself off. Learn from the experience, and get back to building the life you want for yourself.