Impossible goal – Part 2 – Failing on purpose

By setting an impossible goal, by knowing and accepting you are going to fail, but choosing to go for it anyway, you will grow exponentially!  Fail for the sake of growing and learning – adopt an “I AM ALL IN” attitude.  What a great concept!

Failing on purpose for the sake of learning and growing may be a great concept in theory or intellectually, but when you are in the midst of an epic fail, in the moment, it likely feels awful.  But when you feel awful, it is because of a thought you are having at the moment when you feel awful.  And – thoughts are optional!   Remember you already know you are going to fail, so there is no need to feel awful about failing.  INFARCT!  Your brain is now most confused.  Failing… failing is bad, but wait… but we are failing on purpose here…. So not dreadful…   

Furthermore, if you feel awful because you are failing, it’s just a feeling, an uncomfortable emotion.  Learning how to feel uncomfortable emotions is one of the strategic benefits of setting an impossible goal and adopting an I AM ALL IN attitude.  If you learn to accept and are willing to feel any uncomfortable emotion – frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, disappointment – on the way to your impossible goal you will LOSE ALL OF YOUR FEAR – because the worst thing that can happen is an emotion.  BONUS. 

This is the POINT – Feeling and processing those emotions is what will change you! 

If you are willing to feel and process your emotions on the way to your impossible goal you will thrive. 

Okay, so I may have convinced you to try out an impossible goal.  BUT how? 

  • Give yourself permission to dream.  Brainstorm – all of the things that you would be simply thrilled to achieve in 2019.  What would you wholeheartedly embrace?  Write it out.  FILL A PAGE.
  • Pick one – only one!  Confirm it is truly impossible and that you would love to wholeheartedly achieve it.
  • Define it in one sentence.
  • Set a date and a time that it will be done.
  • Define exactly what has to be done for you to consider the impossible goal achieved.

Don’t over think.  Pick a true heart’s desire.  YOU HAVE THEM….. just look and believe!

  • Let your brain tell you all the reasons why this is such a bad idea…. All the reasons why this is truly crazy nonsense.   Let your brain whine and complain.  These are your obstacles.  Write a HUGE thought download.  Get all those excuses OUT of your head and down on paper!
  • Now imagine someone you know who has already accomplished your impossible goal.
    • What qualities do they have that you need to develop?
    • How do they think that is different from the way you think?
    • What do they do that is different from the actions you take?
    • Who do you need to become to be the person who would accomplish your impossible goal?
  • Mentor yourself from your future – devise a plan.  Imagine you have accomplished your impossible goal and overcome every single one of the obstacles your brain identified above.  Ask your future successful self about strategies to overcome those obstacles.  Discuss with your future self, what your current self needs to do, and devise a plan.  (So cool – you are giving yourself the best advise ever!) Your future self (who knows you really, really well)  is you – the you, you can become… she is just further along the path at your feet without any self-doubt.  Think about that…
  • Fail well, not poorly. 
    • Failing poorly is when you work your butt off and end up in burn out.  (I spent years in burnout.  It’s not a pleasant place – please do not go there.) 
    • Failing well is when:
      • You feel and process the uncomfortable emotions encountered along the way;
      • You do not justify your excuses; own your excuses; what are your excuses trying to tell you?
      • Do not quit;
      • You fail, get up brush yourself off and rinse and repeat!

My impossible goal for 2019 is to play Back cello suite number one from memory at noon December 31, 2019.  I confirmed this is impossible – simply by the smile/disbelief my cello teacher tried to suppress when I declared my intention.  A few obstacles/ready made excuses I easily identified:

  • age – I am too old to develop any proficiency (it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient in anything);
  • brachial plexus damage to the nerves in my left forearm and hand;
  • cello is a complex;
  • lack of patience, ease of frustration;
  • I love to play cello – what if I ruin that because I’ve added an unrealistic expectation?

Most of these I have been able to overturn. 

  • I have 10,000 hours to spare to do something I love.  If I practice one hour a day, it will take me 27 years to complete 10,000 hours.  If I increase the amount of time I practice per day by as little as 15 minutes, I can shorten that to 22 years.  I will be just over 80y.  I am okay with that. 
  • It is highly unlikely I will fix the nerve damage in my hand, but I cannot see any upside to not trying.  Cello is exceptional for fine motor development in my fingers.  My OT friend tells me I could not have chosen better therapy for my hand! 
  • Cello is complex – that is what I love about it.  If it was easy it would not contribute to keeping my brain alive and functioning. 
  • Overcoming impatience and frustration are just two foreseeable strategic benefits I would love to cultivate. 
  • As to the last objection… What if I ruin my love for playing cello by adding an unrealistic expectation?  That is the point of setting an impossible goal.  I KNOW up front it is impossible, so it’s totally fine.   

Let the fails begin!  Fails should be fun – you are, after all, chasing a heartfelt desire!  Remember it’s all feedback not failure. 

Buff it up, my friends
Dr Karen

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