Saturday, May 4, 2013

Failure? Or Was it a Just a Small Gain?


I recently set a personal goal to practice my Soaring Crane qigong every day. No exceptions. That resolution lasted for 8 days before I missed a day of practice. I can claim a good excuse. I was in bed for the day sick with food poisoning. Nevertheless, missing a day this early in my marathon was a setback.

I got back on track the next day and kept counting days. I practiced the next 4 days and then missed one again. I can't even give a good reason for missing that day. I had plenty of time but I was just lazy that day. That's when I decided to write this.

There are two possible ways to think about this. First, most of us have a natural tendency to think the worst of a situation. My immediate response is to say that I am a failure at this, that I am incapable of following a plan. What's the matter with me? I teach tai chi. I ask my students to practice every day. Why can't I do it?

Upon reflection, I realized that using this kind of label for myself is very counter-productive. The problem with this negative self-talk is that it creates a negative self-image that de-motivates me.

Here is the second way to think about this situation. I am better off by regarding it as a small success. After all, I did practice for 8 in a row, missed a day, and then did it for the next 4 days. I did make some progress toward my goal. I practiced 12 days out of 14 days. That's 86%. It's not 100% like I wanted to achieve, but it's a whole lot better than I had been doing.

To counteract the negative self-talk, I plan to congratulate myself every time after I complete my forms. Completing the forms at all is time for a small internal celebration. So, I'm back in the saddle and planning on doing it again tomorrow.

Does anyone have any similar experience that you would like to share? I would like to hear how other people deal with situations like this. Please leave a comment.

Happy qi to you all.

© 2013 Eric Borreson

Note: I wrote this a week or so ago. I am up to 8 days in a row as I continue to work on this.