Thursday, August 11, 2011

Planning to fail?

Lately, I have started noticing how my mind is constantly trying to avoid failure, rather than working towards success. It became very evident when I first decided to do a 1 week 1 kg challenge. As I started to write the blog post announcing my challenge, I almost scared myself into quitting before I'd even begun. Thoughts like "what if I can't make it", "I will be publicly humiliated", "I'm not good enough" and "Now everyone will see what a failure you really are" raced through my mind. 

I noticed these fears, and decided to not let them stop me. But I also wondered how many times these fears have stopped me from doing something that I want to do. I am not always as aware of them, or if I am, I believe them and give up before I've even started. Frankly, I'm a little scared to think of all the things I've missed just because of my gut reaction of "you're not good enough".

I recently read You CAN be thin by Marissa Peer, and she talks (among other things) about this. Her advice is to tell yourself that you are enough, and repeat it until you believe it. I've started doing that, and I've also started being my own cheerleader instead of my own worst enemy. Well, I'm trying to anyways, my inner critic has been a part of me for years, so the habit takes a while to break. But at least I'm trying. :)

Of course, when I first started c25k, I was attacked by the self doubt monster. When I looked at the schedule ahead of me, I quickly decided that this was way too hard for me, impossible even. Yet, others who hated running had managed to come out alive and with a new-found passion for running, so I gave it a shot after all.

The first few weeks were okay, but as soon as the running time doubled from 1,5 minutes to 3 minutes, my doubts resurfaced. You may remember that I very nearly convinced myself I'd reached my limit. Luckily, I refused to give in, and managed it just fine. There and then I decided to stop believing that the next run would be too hard, and think positive instead.

For a long time, I actually managed to do so. I cheered myself on. At one point I even started feeling like I looked forward to a new challenge. Things were looking good. Then the dreaded week 5 of the c25k happened. From the very beginning I'd feared this week. Somehow I had managed to push it from my mind, thinking it was way in the future. Then, all of the sudden it was there, and there was no way I could quell my self doubts this time. Really, whomever thought that it was a good idea to go from running 8 minutes straight to 20 - TWENTY - minutes straight? They should be locked up, crazy people!

I was quite sure I'd never make it, my fear of failure was warning me against trying - no good could come out of this. Well, I'm very stubborn, and I hadn't come all this way just to quit. So I set out to prove myself wrong. I kept Jillian in my mind, and I envisioned the triumph of being able to blog about it afterwards. And I DID IT! Not only did I run 20 minutes straight, I went on to run really fast (for me - remember my definition of running at this point is 6 km an hour - babies could probably crawl faster) for a while afterwards, just to quiet my doubts once and for all. Take THAT, evil self doubt! Totally knocked-out there, inner critic!

Image by digitalart /

So now I'm more determined than ever to not let my fears stop me. I will not be planning to fail anymore, I am going to plan success instead. :)


  1. BRAVO! That is so great! You did it! You must be beaming with pride!! I know I am!! Each time you kick your inner critic to the curb, she will fear YOU! You will see less and less of her! I am in the middle of a battle with my inner critic- and I know the more I defeat her- the less I hear from her! Way to go!

  2. That 20 minute run is all mental. You are a champ! (And 6km per hour is not slow at all!)

  3. I totally agree about the concept of an 'Inner Critic'

    I've posted before that my greatest critic is me. No-one even comes slightly close to being as critical of me as I am. Its right we have to challenge that negative voice and make it a positive one.
    You have done so well!

  4. Wooo hooo! Bravo, Lady! Way to go!
    And hey - there may be times you don't hit the mark, but it won't matter in the long run if you go for it anyway. Did you hear about Diana Nyad this week? (I blogged about her - such an inspiration!!)

  5. I love this: "I noticed these fears, and decided to not let them stop me. But I also wondered how many times these fears have stopped me from doing something that I want to do." Very recently I came to a similar conclusion. I get so frustrated with not allowing myself to live life to the fullest, simply because I'm afraid to do so. But you're RUNNING! That's a huge accomplishment.

  6. Jill: Thank you for cheering me on, I hope you're right about that inner critic!

    Sarah: I've been thinking the same thing lately, that it really IS more mental than physical! And thanks for being sweet about my slow pace. :)

    Dawn: Yes, I think it is a problem for a lot of people. I hope we all get better at treating ourselves the way we treat our friends, we definitely deserve it!

  7. Karen: Thanks! :D

    Renkath: Thank you! I'll go check out your blog right now, guess I missed that post...

    Kimberly: I KNOW! We only have one life, but we are (or I am, anyways) so afraid of failing or looking stupid that we don't enjoy life as we should... Hope you'll join me in challenging that voice!

  8. Hi! I am a new reader! Congrats on rocking week 5 :)

  9. I've had those fears, too, and they did hold me back from trying some things. You know that expression, "There is no 'try', only 'do' or 'don't do'?" Well, I HATE that expression! Of course there's a "try"! If not for the opportunity to try again, we'd all be colossal failures. Ya can't be good at everything.

    Eventually I realized, I'd rather try and fail that not try at all. The people who love me won't judge me. I'm working on not judging myself.

  10. Hi

    I've just discovered your blog. It's great! I"m not sure if it's just been the last week or so's posts but I love your attitude towards all of this - you're just getting out and doing it. YOu decided to lose a kg and you did it. you decided to run and you did it. It really is that simple. Deciding what to do then doing it.

    I needed to see that. I will defnitely be following your blog from now on.


  11. Good for you for blowing your inner critic off!
    You asked for good cardio dvds - insanity cardio series is good, and i love the Cathe series!

  12. Jessica: Thank you, and welcome here! :)

    Forty Pound sack: I love what you said "I'm working on not judging myself", that's what I'm trying to do, too!

    Caroline: Thanks! It does go up and down, but I find that having a clear goal (and one that is not too far into the future) helps me stay on track.

    getfitchick: Thank you! I'll check out the dvds, thank you for the tips!