Friday, November 13, 2009

Emotional Battles Series - Managing the Fear of Failure and Making the Commitment to Better Health

When I sat down to write about the emotions surrounding making big changes in your lifestyle I came to a realization. This is a very complex and huge topic in which I have a ton to share about. So instead of writing a super long post on the topic I have decided to break it down into several smaller posts which I will post over the next few weeks. Each Friday I will cover a different emotional battle I faced during my journey to better health and I will share the different strategies I used to overcome them. So welcome to the start of what I’m calling the Emotional Battles Series. Hope you enjoy and I look forward to hearing your comments.

So, let’s get started with this week’s topic! 

Emotional Battle #1: Managing the Fear of Failure and Making the Commitment to Better Health

Making the commitment to improve my health was the first of many battles I faced. I finally made the commitment on January 8, 2007 and began what has been one of the most important journeys I have been on in my whole life. It is the most important because it is one I will continue to be on for the remainder of my life and it is the one which has already changed my life more than any other experience I have had to date.

I’m a strong believer that if you want to make a commitment to better health you have to be ready to make that commitment otherwise it will result in just another failure towards better health. Why do I believe this? Because I can count over 20 attempts in which I failed and I can point to not being ready as being a big part of the reason why in all of those instances.

So what does it mean to be ready to make the commitment to better health? Well there are several things I believe that are needed to be ready but the one I’m going to concentrate on here is going to be the emotional readiness part of making the commitment.  For me being ready emotionally meant I had to work through my fear of failure.

I had this HUGE, and I mean HUGE fear, of failure. This was because of the many failed attempts prior. Each failure always had resulted in my health getting into worse shape than it was before the attempt so at that point I was convinced it was better to just not try so I didn’t make things worse. The thing I didn’t see at the time was not trying was still resulting in a progression of my bad health but it was just at a much slower speed.

What did I do to remove this fear as a roadblock to making the commitment? It took time and a shift in the way I viewed what I was committing to. Instead of looking at it as just a commitment to loosing weight I looked at it as working at committing to habits that would change my health status. I shifted from letting the number on the scale being the only measure I was going to keep track of to having several different measurements that I would look to for measures of progress (blood pressure, body measurements, blood test results, etc). I also was going to keep tabs on how I physically felt each day.

Once I shifted my focus from just weight loss to overall health improvement I was able to see that this was one commitment I had never made before. I had committed to loosing weight in the past but never a commitment to improved health. Meaning I had no previous history of failing which made the fear of failure to drop to a level that it no longer was a roadblock to making the commitment to it.

As you see above I didn’t say I eliminated the fear for failure completely to get to the point I could make the commitment. At that point, I couldn’t have eliminated it completely which was ok. Eliminating that fear in terms of this journey completely didn’t happen until later down the road. I will talk about that process in one of the later posts in this series.

So I leave you with the following question.
How have you made the fear of failure manageable enough to make the commitment to better health?

Quote of the Day: 
"No passion so effectually robs the mind of its powers of acting and reasoning as fear". ~ Edmund Burke


  1. I'm one of the lucky ones who grew up in a health-conscious family, therefore I have been eating healthy and well my whole life. I had an eating disorder, however, and trying to get rid of that was tiresome and stressful. I did have a fear of failure during that time, constantly thinking that this ED would take over my life. I just had to stay positive and remind myself that my passion is health and I can't be a spokesperson for health unless I AM HEALTHY! Having confidence in myself helped a lot, but it took time.

    Great post.

  2. I think this is so important: "shifting the focus from just weight loss to overall health improvement."

    It just FEELS better to eat right and exercise! And weight isn't always the best measure of health.

    Glad you're challenging that fear of failure!