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To Get What You Want, You Must Forgive Yourself
How often have you given up on something because you slipped up once, or twice?
Like a diet for example. One cheat day becomes another and before you know it you're saying "Sod it!" and consuming illegal quantities of carbohydrates and fat!
Or quitting smoking? You're at the pub and, well you know this scene better than I do, because I don't drink. Before you know it, you're a smelly smoker again.
What if I told you that it's not only OK to mess up, it's essential? You're not required to be perfect to achieve whatever it is you want.
I've lost 12kg in six months. I've fasted and dieted hard. It's absolutely brutal, but I know it's not forever. I have the odd blow-out...but...
I always come back to the diet.
In Islam we call this tawbah or "turning back", it's not quite the same as "repentance". As long as you keep turning back, as long as you're on plan more often than not, then you'll get to where you want to go.
It's not the absence of failure that helps you get to your goal. It's the regular recovery from failure, that's the habit we want.
It will take me a week to lose half a kilo, then I can eat badly for a weekend and put on a kilo and a half. It's fine. I understand what's going on. I get back on plan and most of it is water weight anyway.
I haven't smoked for many, many years, except that I have.
How does that make any sense?
I made a deal with myself that I would no longer smoke cigarettes, except when I travel.
Now sometimes I stretch this and include travel into London, but I never smoke at home, or in my home town.
As a result, I've smoked maybe 20 cigarettes in 6 years. I don't even know. It might be more, but it's not like it was before, which was over a thousand cigarettes a year.
I didn't "give up". I knew I'd slip up with that mindset. I "deferred" the cigarettes. I made them more meaningful. And besides, smoking when you travel is chic. Puffing outside your office in your home town is dismal.
Forget about the length of your streaks in your habit app. Focus on how many times you recover from a break.
Forgive yourself often, and make life easier than the masochistic vision of discipline you've been sold.