Friday, 29 July 2016

Before I succeeded, I specialised in failing

I think that while most of us don't mind sharing our success, talking about failing is different.

We keep it a secret, or we make a joke about it, or we start a conversation about it and our friends rally around quickly and say all sorts of comforting things.

Failure is uncomfortable.

It's also totally unavoidable if you want to achieve any kind of success at all.

Since I was a teenager I haven't had so much as a sweet tooth, as a mouth full of them. I craved sugar and ate bags of it. At sixth form I'd eat four or five chocolate bars through the day and maybe more in the evening.

Gradually I started having no 'off button' for junk food at all. I loved eating utter crap. 

Several times I tried to stop, because it made me feel exhausted and frightened for my health. No one anywhere advises that huge amounts of sugar are good for your health.

But I always failed, and ended up eating just as much rubbish as ever. So I just made a joke out of it, and everyone called me a pig and said how lucky I was not to put weight on. And I went 'ha ha ha' and hoped I wasn't giving myself cancer or diabetes. 

Since Phil and I got together I've eaten a lot more proper food. He's a great cook, and I've made an effort to learn, so we have a lot of good home cooking in our lives.

But I still ate loads and loads of crap in between.

Until quite recently. I suddenly noticed that we've had a huge multi bag of crisps in the cupboard and I haven't eaten them all. I've eaten some of them, but not all of them. I've stopped (without even deciding to) putting sugar in my coffee. We also have chocolate pancakes and peanut butter in the cupboard and I haven't polished them off.

The reason? No idea. Maybe it's because I've been meditating lately, maybe it's because my new workplace isn't right next to a supermarket anymore, maybe I'm finally sick of the stuff, maybe it's the great podcast I listen to every week that encourages you to make your habits work for you.

But I think the real reason is that it's something I've wanted to change for a long, long time and after failing and failing (and failing) it's suddenly clicked without me even realising.

The point of which is: Take heart. If you feel like you're getting nowhere, maybe you are, but you can't see the progress because you're in the middle of it.

Zed and I have had a small success that follows this pattern too. I felt like we weren't really getting anywhere, but our lesson yesterday was really good. It's been five weeks since our last one and I could feel a real improvement. His trot is stronger, his focus is better and he didn't get as tired or as antsy.

Yet if you'd asked me before the lesson I would have said we were no further forward. 

Maybe failure is so uncomfortable because we're so aware of it. We notice every little thing that doesn't go right, and we miss the things that are going right. So I noticed every time I finished off a giant bag of crisps and felt crap, but it didn't even register when I stopped putting sugar in my hot drinks. And I noticed every time Zed got distracted, but I didn't give him any credit for the times he tried really hard. 

I'll wrap this up with a Samuel Johnston quote that feels like it fits. 

"Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance."

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