You decide to fail every day.

Ah, it’s been a great few weeks. Daxter is gold and will be in stores in less than three weeks, and I’m getting my life back on track. I was in the mood to make some good decisions, so I gave up all alcohol, all soda, all coffee and all fast food, all of which were things I loved VERY much, and have actually invested thousands of dollars in over the last couple years.

I didn’t stop loving them… I still do. But I felt I was becoming too reliant on them, especially coffee, and I wanted to prove to myself that I don’t need anything. So I went cold turkey on all of them at the same time. I threw away or poured out every last trace of each of them that I had, and I’ve been clean for a couple weeks. It feels great!

The best part of all is that I got so caught up in the tide of good decisions, that I decided to start working out five days a week. To reverse my sedentary, miserable, pathetic lifestyle of the last 17 months.

I went into it full force… I threw out all my unhealthy food and spent hundreds of dollars on ALL fresh, delicious food. I put myself on a very strict diet that I used to use. I bought a dumbbell set and cobbled together enough makeshift exercise equipment to do everything I need to do inside my own apartment.

In the first 7 days of diet and exercise, I lost two inches on my waist and added half an inch to my biceps. I’m packing on muscle, I feel alive and full of energy all the time, I’ve never been in a better mood, and things kick ass. Most of all, I have a very deep satisfaction in myself now, knowing that I’m making a LOT of good decisions instead of holding myself back.

Which brings me to what I wanted to talk about tonight… I came to the shocking conclusion that I decide to fail every day.

Every. Single. Day.

And not the good kind of failure. The kind that keeps you from trying harder. The kind that prevents you from being successful. The kind that holds you back from what you really want.

Every time I tell myself my art is ‘good enough as it is’ I decide to fail. Every time I go for seconds at dinner, I decide to fail. Every time I’m lifting a weight and I feel weak, I decide to fail.

This happens all the time to everyone, and they don’t even realize it. And that’s what holds people back from being successful.

Everyone has an internal sense of their limitations. They think they know how far they can go, how much they can eat and be okay, how good their art can be, how fast they can run… everything. They have expectations of themselves that they rarely allow themselves to exceed.

This works on both a conscious and subconscious level. I read a fascinating statistic in Business 2.0 recently about risk management. When cars became decked out with safety features that were supposed to prevent accidents, people started causing totally new kinds of accidents so that the same average number of accidents occurred. How could that be? The safety features are there, people know about them and everything should be fine!

No one knew why this was, until they did a boatload of research and discovered an interesting psychological principle: People automatically regulate the average amount of risk in their lives, whether they realize it or not. When airbags were added to cars, people drove faster. When the safe metal railings were put on sharp curves on the road, people took the curves faster and less safely. They automatically drove a little less safely, because they’re USED to the same level of risk.

In other words, people that are used to sucking, keep on sucking. They’re used to the way that things usually feel, so their subconscious mind kicks in and does what it can to maintain complete homeostasis — non-change. Your brain FIGHTS change.

See, this applies directly to any endeavor… people have a deep well of subconscious expectations of their own performance. The trick is to learn to LISTEN to yourself very, very closely and hear the little voice inside you that tells you to give up.

I never noticed this until I was doing shoulder presses, which involves lifting a weight straight up into the air, then back down to my shoulders. Over and over. Once I hit the tenth rep, I thought to myself “God, I’m tired… 10 is enough.”

And I listened to myself, and I was so shocked that I almost dropped the weight. Did I just tell myself to give up instead of trying harder?!

I managed to pump out another 5 before my arms literally gave out and could lift no more. But I was completely blown away. I can push SO far past my own limits, that I never even knew what I could accomplish. The implications are UNBELIEVABLE!! I realized then that I did this all the time… all sorts of failings in life. Dashed opportunities. Do any of these sound familiar?

“I should really do this. I know I should. Oh well.”

“Wow, is it this late already? I should go to bed. Oh well.”

“Well, this painting looks a little better than my last one. Good enough.”

We all do it. The way to get past it is to consciously learn to listen for that little voice that makes the decision to fail instead of pushing onward, especially when you KNOW you should. There’s no time like the present to improve, push yourself harder and become great.

So listen for the voice, and take action by ignoring the hell out of it. Make hearing that voice a trigger to try harder. Every time you do it, you’ll respect yourself more, grow in confidence, take bolder steps and get BETTER. Better at anything you do! Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Take action!!!

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