The Failure/Retry Ratio

I remember once reading an article about why people fail the New Year’s Resolutions (or goals in general). There were a variety of reasons, such as making your goal too specific (or not specific enough), forcing your goal on others (“My entire family will eat salad all the time because I want to lose weight”), and hitting it too hard all at once (i.e. quitting sugar cold turkey, which inevitably makes you feel like hell from the withdrawal). All of these points make a lot of sense when you really think about them, but there was another point that resonated with me. That was, basically, insisting on seeing setbacks as failure.

I’ve always been a tracker, by nature. Trying to lose weight? I write down everything I eat and every minute of exercise I perform. Want to keep track of my spending habits? I create a detailed notebook that shows every cent I spend and when each of my bills is paid. Goal to write 1000 words a day? I’ve got to track each word and what it was written for.

And the thing is, when it comes to my tracking, I can be a bit…obsessive compulsive. I don’t know why, but for some reason when it comes to stuff like this, one little mistake makes me lose my mind. If I miss a day of writing down what I’ve eaten and can’t remember what I ate in order to write it down, I’ve FAILED. If I lose track of some of the money I spent and my numbers don’t add up perfectly, I’ve FAILED. And if I miss a day of writing my 1000 words and have to look at a blank spot on my tracker, I’ve UBER-SUPER-FAILED!

“Seeing setbacks as failure”, you see? In the article it referred to such things as missing a few days of exercise and completely giving up on your health goals because of it. My issues are similar. Did anyone notice that I didn’t post my 1000-word-a-day results last week? The reason is because I wrote less than 1000 words that entire week. I not only failed, I failed miserably, so much so that it wasn’t even worth talking about.

Fortunately, unlike the examples in the goal-failure article, when I find myself “failing” as the result of a “setback”, I have a tendency to just start all over again. I’ll throw out my tracking results and start from scratch with a fresh new piece of paper, Excel file, or whatever I happen to be using, and I’ll get back on the horse. Sometimes it won’t be right away (I have a related obsession where my goals have to start on a Sunday or the 1st of the month), but it eventually does happen. Without this attitude I would never have lost the weight I wanted to lose before my wedding. With this attitude I will eventually finish this damn zombie novel.

With that said, I would like to report that I had a truly excellent week after restarting my tracking efforts. Following are my word-counts for last week:

Sunday – 1140
Monday – 1098
Tuesday – 1074
Wednesday – 1047
Thursday – 1402
Friday – 1432
Saturday – 1788

With this past week, my zombie novel is getting very close to completion. Mind you there’s still a lot of editing to do, but just to complete a novel….that’s going to be a huge deal for me, so wish me luck that I keep doing as well in the coming week! 😀

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