As the year comes to a close, many people’s minds turn to changes they want to make. Even those who shy away from “resolutions” often will set an intention to change or work on something.
I recently made some big changes in my life, and I’ve been talking to a lot of people working on similar changes. I see a lot of concern about backsliding or mistakes or failing to reach a stated goal.
Relax, friends. Whether you make a formal resolution, an intention, or whether you just want to be a little better today, there is only one rule to follow if you fall short.
Just. Start. Again.
Proceed as if the mistake never happened (unless you’ve done something unethical while on a bender, in which case, make amends first).
Treat the mistake as an oopsie, not an OH MY GOSH I’M A FAILURE.
So you ate the cookies? You didn’t exercise? You Facebooked instead of meditating, again? Forgive yourself. There is no failure. Start again. You can always start again.
Have you ever watched a toddler learning to walk? What do they do when they fall down? “Well, I’m down here, I guess I’ll never walk. <shrug>”
Of course not, they just get up and keep trying. They don’t see failure because it’s not there.
This is part of what is meant by beginner’s mind in Zen. Forget what you think things mean. “Failure” isn’t permanent, and it isn’t a character trait.
Get up. Start again. You can do it.
Be well, friends.