I fell off the wagon. A few months ago, I started writing 500 words a day. Not all of it was getting published but it was helping me in my goal to become a better writer, consistently posting on The Huffington Post, Switch and Shift and other sites, plus meeting my ultimate goal to self-publish a book by the end of the year.
I haven't told anyone, until now, but I've failed. At least that's what I was telling myself. You see, it's easy when we stop doing something to call it a failure and move on in a different direction. It's quite another experience to fall down, get up, learn from it and continue on our journey. Why am I sharing this? To help you realize how falling does not have to lead to failure.
It's easy when we have a job to know when the report is due, what time we need to be at the meeting and how to measure our progress. There is a deliverable that sets an expectation of when and who were are accountable to. It's that simple to get work done. But when you want to do things for yourself, the best way I've found to be accountable is to let other's know about it. I have learned that if I keep it to myself, I set myself up for failure, since only I will know about it. For some things I have an accountability partner (my wife for exercising and diet), and for other areas I tap into my online community. When we state our intentions, they only mean something if others know about them. Not only have I written about my struggles when getting started with writing 500 words a day, I've had others use me as an example for how to become a better writer. Now if that isn't accountability, I don't know what is. Hold yourself accountable, but make sure you have a community that is holding you accountable too.
When you have others hold you accountable, you can hope that enough time passes, so when they realize you aren't living up to your commitment, it's a moot point. I didn't wait for anyone to notice I wasn't writing every day. I was still writing enough to have a weekly post that others saw. I could've skated by. But if you don't want to fail, you need to be vulnerable. Opening up to tell you I haven't achieved what I set out to do, on an international media site is a little frightening. When I heard Dorie Clark talk about covering at Business Innovation Factory, it became apparent that most of us cover for something. Becoming vulnerable is what allows us to get back up and continue on the journey. And some times, we also learn so much that we course correct so we don't have to feel guilty that we didn't do something that actually morphed into a different goal
This is perhaps the most overlooked step. Once we fall, and get up, we generally keep on going. It's the world we live in today, which tells us to keep busy and accomplish something every second of our day. Without stopping to reflect on why we fell, how we are getting back and what we can learn from it; we are prone to fall right back off. It's amazing how just by writing this now, it is opening my eyes up to what I've learned. My best time to write is first thing in the morning when I'm alone. I had been telling myself I'd write at other times, like on the train or in the evening. I need to get back to what works for me. For as vulnerable as people view me, I see myself as a very private person. I am cautious about what I say, where I say it and how it will affect others. While I'm not going to change who I am, I do need to become more confident in what I say. Confidence without arrogance is what I am reflecting on right now.
I'm learning that the only failure we experience is something we don't learn from. Life is a journey, not a destination. Falling is part of the adventure. Failing to me is giving up.