Relapse is Part of Success

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

Relapse gets a bad rap. Positive change is never absolutely forward motion with nary a glance back. Positive change includes failing then trying again, blowing it off then recommitting, changing our minds and then changing back again.

It’s like when I started running. Again.

Someone asked me what made me start running now. Apparently my current spate of running has been going on long enough that people identify me (and I identify me) as a person who runs. But I didn’t start running now; I started running a quarter of a century ago and then I quit. A few years later I tried again and stopped. A few years after that I was back at it but got injured. Then once again I tried but lost interest. This time, for right now, I’m maintaining but my whole running story has been going on for years and years.

This is something I only appreciate in hindsight because in those in between times I wasn’t working on running, I was working on other stuff. None of the other stuff was overtly running related but it’s still all part of my running story, which is a small part of the whole story of me.

Each time I started to run I learned something and each time I stopped I learned something else. All of those things that I learned brought me to this place, right here and now where my growth is most apparent in running.

This is one of the helpful things about getting older; it’s easier to have a long-range view.

Failure is Evidence of Effort

I invite you to look back at your own life with an eye to spot the incremental change instead of just resting on what you perceive as abject failures. Instead see the failures as part of the change. After all, you can’t fail if you haven’t tried and trying counts for a lot.

(I think about my friend who is a book reviewer and so has read a lot of lousy books along with all the good ones. She says she never forgets that writing the book itself is an accomplishment and deserves respect even if she isn’t a fan of the final product.)

I also encourage you to be kind to yourself when you inevitably fail again because you will. We all will, at least we will if we’re trying. And that will be a chance to take measure, assess our mistakes, bring newfound wisdom to our efforts and try again.