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Achieving Failure

At a time when many others are making resolutions, I don’t take quite the same approach. Like many others I do have an idea of what I want, and like a few others I take the time to write down a few goals for the year. I prefer to start working on them in December (or even September) rather than wait to make a resolution.

The difference is easy to see. As a long-time weightlifter I’ve seen the January crowd at the gym (I like February a lot more when it’s quiet). One thing I started last month is a new strength training program. Today I’m proud to say that I achieved failure. That’s right, I succeeded in failing!

You might be wondering what that means. Over time I have come to see that it is strangely valuable. There is a lot of conflicting advice about setting goals. Some people say you should start low so you don’t discourage yourself. Others say you should aim high so even if you don’t make it you will get somewhere.

I’ve never gotten far by setting unrealistic goals – the kind where you can’t even make it 10% of the way. And sometimes it’s hard to figure what you would normally be able to do and set a goal 10% higher. But this workout program has been an example of an approach that resolves those issues. It started out by dropping to much lower weights than I was used to, close to the lowest weights available. But from there it increases the weight every session.

This makes it easier to get into a routine and get additional motivation from the steady increases. Eventually it gets to a point where the weight is more than you can handle. When you keep trying a little more than last time until you can’t quite make it, you’ve achieved failure. I have learned from others wiser than me that you aren’t doing all you can until you’re doing things that fail regularly but work just enough to keep you going.

I’ve been applying this in other areas too such as my business, where I wasn’t getting what I wanted at one point. I realized that I rarely didn’t get what I asked for so I started reaching out to more people and asking for more. Now I have regular failures – even a few huge failures. But I know I’m doing just about everything I can and over time I can learn to eventually get the things I really want.

This applies to your finances too. If you have a goal that’s really important to you and you aren’t comfortable with the way it’s going, try achieving failure. Try starting from where you are, or something you can handle easily, and then increasing it continually until you find out what you can really do. The first few times you hit the limit, try to find other ways to break past it. If you really can’t then you know you’re doing your best.

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