Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure This Year

I used to be the best at setting myself up to fail. 

It didn’t matter the goal although, in my case, most often it was weight loss.  I had color-coded charts, perfectly organized notebooks, and plans for days. 

I knew exactly what I needed to do to be successful.  It was beautifully outlined and organized.

I knew when I was going to start and, each time I started, I knew I was finally ready.  I hit the ground running.  I was all in.  I followed my plan. I checked every box.  I even started to see results.

Then one day I would stumble.  Maybe I missed one workout, ate a cookie in the break room, had a glass of wine during my dry January, or realized that a whole day had gone by and I hadn’t meditated despite my planned 365-day commitment.  It didn’t matter what it was.  The result was always the same.

I hadn’t followed my plan yet again so FUCK IT!

One missed workout turned into many and then ultimately telling myself that the plan didn’t work.  One cookie or glass of wine turned into eating sugar and drinking in front of the TV again every night to feel better after a long day. One missed meditation turned into 365 days without any meditation.

I had put in all this effort on the front-end planning and organizing to make it easy to accomplish my goal this time and one empty check box would undo it all.

That is one of the dangers of perfectionism.

My brain loves to tell me that once one little thing goes wrong, once one task is late or not completed at all, then the whole plan is ruined. I can only be successful if I do absolutely everything right.

That seems like it would have been helpful.  I held myself to the highest possible standard.  I told myself exactly what to do, but I lived my life on a knife’s edge.  One little misstep and I was sliding down the side of the blade without anything to grab to slow my descent.

I ended up right back where I started before all the planning and

organizing. Maybe I blamed the plan or the program, but, more often than not, I blamed myself.  I must be broken.  There must be something fundamentally wrong with me that prevented me from achieving my goals.

There was.  It was the all-or-nothing thinking of a perfectionist.  I didn’t set myself up for failure because I made poor plans.  I set myself up for failure because I didn’t know how to let myself recover when I didn’t perfectly execute my plan.  Then, each time I made a little mistake, I let that mean that the whole plan was ruined, every time I said FUCK IT, I further proved to myself that I would never be successful.  I would never accomplish my goal.

I now identify as a recovering perfectionist.

How did I enter recovery?  I learned to stop letting every misstep mean that I had to start over.  I stopped beating myself up when I didn’t live up to my own expectations.  I learned how to embrace little failures and learn from them so that rather than leading to big failures they taught me how to stay on the path toward success.

The New Year brings with it a desire for a new beginning.  This often leads to a desire to accomplish a major goal.  I’d love to help you learn to overcome perfectionism and do just that.  If you haven’t already, sign up for my free mini course How ToFeel Better On Your Next Shift, or just email me at  to learn more about how coaching can help you.