Embrace the Error: a tactic on how to make the most of missing the mark

So, you missed your goal deadline again? Maybe you set a goal this month to lose 5 lbs, but you only lost 3 lbs. Maybe you set a goal to go to spin class 3 times per week, but you missed a few because you felt drained from work. Or maybe you promised yourself that you would finally start leaving work on time so that you could get home and spend more time with your family, but yet again you stayed out of obligation and the idea of pleasing your manager.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. This is an opportunity.

I read a book about a month ago called The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, which brought to light even more understanding to a thought I’ve had for over a year. The moral of the read was obstacles have traditionally been seen in the wrong perspective: one that views them as troublesome. Obstacles, which can be defined broadly as an impediment or issue you face, are actually the opposite. Your issues are not necessarily problems, they are not troubles, but instead they are your life.

Changing your perspective on obstacles is the first, most crucial step to avoid failure. Instead, whenever you make an error, you can change your experience into a positive one by holding the belief that it is meant to happen. If your error holds a purpose, it is much more manageable and can be easily understood after a little analysis. From this point of view, we can now discuss how to appropriately analyze your error to make the most of it.

More often than not, an error is nothing but a message. This message can be interpreted in many ways, but, fortunately, we have chosen to interpret it into a positive since we know that it is serving a purpose. So, the question we must ask ourselves is “what is the error message trying to tell me?”

A simple personal example is this: I wrote down a goal on January 1, 2019 that I wanted to weigh 135 lbs by March 15, 2019, which was the day before I went to Florida for a vacation with my girlfriend and her family. Although I did not weigh myself on that day, I can promise you that I did not weigh 135 lbs.

What I chose to neglect is why I wanted to weigh 135 lbs. I have noticed, not only in myself but many others, that we ignore the intention behind the goals we set for ourselves. And, more often than not, that is what our error message is trying to tell us. Our errors are a result of us working beyond the scope of what it is we truly want to accomplish. In my case, I didn’t want to weigh 135 lbs, rather I wanted to feel good about myself being shirtless on the beach in Florida. Well, I realize now that you don’t need to be at a certain weight to feel good without a shirt on.

We must try to remember the reason behind the goals we have set for ourselves. We must do so in order to remain intentional along the entire journey of accomplishing that goal.

Furthermore, errors in our efforts to overcome obstacles are an opportunity for growth and development. Often times when we run into obstacles we stop or are forced to stop momentarily. For me, I have seen benefits from taking this time to rest and be present.

Building on my previous example, when I went to Florida weighing more than 135 lbs, I didn’t punish myself. I didn’t regret having those cheat days or those mornings where I skipped my training sessions. On the contrary, I loved myself even more. I chose to believe that I did my best. I consciously chose to feel appreciation for the substantial progress that I did make. I decided to love my body and accept my humanity.

I know I am not perfect, and I no longer expect myself to be. You should do the same. One of my biggest projects is to remove negative self talk, and I would recommend any and everyone do the same. You are human. You are flawed. Do your best, and do not expect perfection. Accept that and love yourself anyways.

But I digress. My point is this: errors are cause for a deeper analysis of not only what we did wrong but also to return to the basics of why we wanted to accomplish the goal in the first place, and, if unaccomplished, we must view the error as an opportunity for growth.

The next time you set a goal, make a few errors, run into a few obstacles, and miss the mark, I hope that you use that moment for reflection. Reflect on why you wanted to accomplish that goal in the first place. Perhaps you accomplished the why but not the specific metrics you set. Then, use that moment to show yourself some grace. Accept your humanity, your flaws, and choose to appreciate them. That acceptance is one area of improvement I believe we can all work on.

This mindset will help you grow, and may even help you be more mindful when goal-setting and dream-chasing moving forward. Remember, the obstacle is the way. Embrace the error and change your lens to transform it into a positive. Your flaws are beautiful. Choose to love and make the most of them!

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