failing on results is different from failing on effort

failing on results is different from failing on effort

Last week I wrote a post called "you can fail your goal and still move forward", and it's had me thinking about the concept - enough so that I want to write a follow-up. I need to be clear about this: there is a big difference between failing on results and failing on effort.

Failing on results isn't necessarily a bad thing; it could have more to do with your stated goal than your processes or your effort:
  • You set your goal too high.
  • You rounded up. (In my last fitness goal challenge, I thought 25 pull-ups might be too high, but setting a goal for 21 or 18 seemed sort of silly..)
  • You stated a goal of where you wanted to be, without regards to time. (ie: Losing 40 pounds is a realistic goal, but losing 40 pounds in the next 6 months might be too much.
  • Having a net worth of $1,000,000 is a great goal, but having a net worth of $1,000,000 by the time you're 30 is a very lofty goal..)
  • Your goal may be possible, but only with flawless execution. The longer your time horizon, the more likely it is that something can temporarily slow down your progress.
In any of these cases, you can fail your goal but still move forward. Maybe you only lost 20 pounds in 6 months, or you're worth $400,000 at age 30. That's not too shabby - and you're definitely on the road to success!

Failing on effort is a very different story.

If you look at your goal (losing 40 pounds in 6 months), and think to yourself, "heck, I'd be happy even if I only hit 80% of my goal and lose 32 pounds," you're starting down the path to being unsuccessful. Those thoughts are often followed by actions, where you make successful choices only 80% of the time.
  • I've eaten really well for the whole day, so it's ok if I have a piece of cake after dinner.
  • I've went for a walk yesterday and the day before, so it's ok if I skip today.
  • I don't feel like going to the gym today; I've gone every time I was supposed to so far this month - it's ok if I miss once in awhile.
  • I've been eating pretty well for almost 2 weeks, and I read about XYZ celebrity who gives herself a cheat day once every two weeks, so I'm going to have fun at happy hour tonight!
These choices - failing on effort - won't lead to achieving 80% of your goal. They'll lead to COMPLETE FAILURE. When you sabotage your effort towards your goal, you won't see the results you want, which you need for further motivation. That's when the doubts creep into your mind. You'll start thinking, "I've been eating pretty well for a month and have barely lost anything. This just isn't worth the effort.." Once you start losing motivation and doubting yourself, you're done.

Bottom Line

You want to dedicate yourself 100% to your goal. Every action, decision, and inaction will have a direct impact on your success. If you give your goal everything you've got and you come up short, you're still probably miles ahead of where you started. But if you short-change your effort, you'll end up right where you started.

-Chris Butterworth