Do you ever feel like giving up because you keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again? I’ve been there with big things and small things– wanting to kick my bad snacking habits, trying to reject perfectionism and surrender control, trying to remember to leave my apartment earlier to allow myself more time to get places. It’s tempting to want to throw in the towel when we feel we aren’t measuring up.
But what will we ever gain if we give up on everything that’s hard? If we stopped trying just because we didn’t succeed the first time around, we wouldn’t accomplish much at all.
If I had given up every time I failed in my life, I would have never learned to tie my shoes, braid my hair, ride a bike, do a push-up, drive a car, cook rice (and if I’m really being honest, I still can’t do that one well), or probably a hundred other things. I don’t know who I’d be without going through those experiences and learning lessons the hard way.
Of course, I would love to naturally be gifted in every area of life, but that’s just not realistic. Instead, I’m choosing to be grateful for the things I am gifted in, leaning into those things, finding ways to grow in those areas, while also challenging myself to improve the things that are difficult for me. I’m trying to become more of a moderator, exercising self-control, focusing on long-term goals instead of instant gratification. I’m working on exhibiting patience instead of frustration and irritability. I am striving to think less about myself and more about others.
I continually make mistakes in these areas, and in others as well. In light of those mistakes, it would be easy to label myself as a “failure.” But just because I fail doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means I’m a work in progress.
How I label myself has a profound impact on my approach to obstacles in my life. And I get to decide how I define myself. I am choosing to tell myself that I am a moderator. I am a generous person. I am a kind person. I am a patient person. I am a healthy person. I am a joyful person. These attributes function as motivation to make decisions that allow me to get one step closer to feeling like I really embody them, even if there are some backward steps thrown in.
The truth is, everybody makes mistakes. We’re just all afraid to admit it most of the time. We’re all works in progress. We’re all still struggling to figure out who we are and why we’re here. We go through different seasons of life –some harder than others– picking up little lessons and experiences along the way, letting them shape and mold us into who we are and who we want to be.
When we decide that failing doesn’t make us failures, we give ourselves the freedom to learn from our mistakes. We also gain strength in knowing our choices don’t make us who we are; we get to decide who we are and make choices based on our identity. We get to try again. Maybe conquering our biggest obstacles will take us a few attempts, but isn’t it a beautiful thing that we get the opportunity to try?
So today I invite you to start again. And if you don’t succeed, I encourage you to start again tomorrow, too. And the day after that. And the day after that. Until you can look back and realize you’ve moved forward toward your goal without having even realized it. Simply because you didn’t give up. You fell down but got back up again. You kept fighting to make your dreams a reality.
You can do it. So go start again, my friend.