The Lens of Failure

The other day, my daughters brought home a lottery ticket that their dad had bought them and excitedly told me to scratch the silver off to see what we’d won.

Because they asked me to and were excited about it, I obliged. But I knew, of course, that there would be nothing to find. I knew we wouldn’t win anything.

I knew we would “fail,” so I didn’t get my hopes up. My daughters, on the other hand, held out hope that we’d get the ultimate prize.

Does this sound familiar? I know it does, because I’m certain you’ve bought your fair share of lottery tickets. But it should also sound familiar if you’ve been on a diet for most of your life.

You go into each diet, hoping that this will be the one that works. But at the same time, you’re also resigned to knowing that it probably won’t.

In other words, you’re seeing everything through a lens of failure.

Most people don’t really believe they’ll win the lottery. I certainly had low expectations when I was scratching off those numbers. And if you’ve been trying to diet off the same ten pounds for years on end, you probably subconsciously believe that you’ll never lose the weight.

There’s a big difference between winning the lottery and losing weight, however. You can’t increase your odds of buying the winning ticket, but you can increase your odds of losing weight.

You do this by changing how you see things. Your perspective and your expectations powerfully influence your actions – or lack of them.

The lower your expectation of successfully losing weight is, the more half-hearted your efforts become. The less you take action, the less confident you become. And the less confident you are, the less action you’ll take.

If you’re not expecting much, you’re going to get even less than that. If you expect to fail – well then, you probably will.

On top of all this, you’re surrounded by the failure mindset. Your friends go on all the same diets, they fail, too, and you all talk about losing weight as if it’s unachievable.

Everyone around you also sees things through the lens of failure, and this herd mentality results in one big collective failure.

No one sees this as the true problem. We’re all somehow convinced that we don’t have what it takes and that success is just out of reach. This is why we’re all so desperate to find the diet that works. We’re all searching for that winning lottery ticket – the one we’ll never get.

Diets don’t work, and they never will. Instead of bashing your head against the wall, trying to find the magical one that does, what if you changed how you see things?

The truth is that a simple shift in perspective can give you the secret ingredient you need to make real changes: confidence.

Confidence gives you hope, because anything is possible if you can rely on yourself to make it happen. There’s no fantasy, only reality – and when you get down in the trenches and start doing the work, you build that confidence even more and start to see results.

But you can’t have confidence when you’re resigned to failure from the outset, when your expectation is that failure is inevitable.

So how do you change all this? How do you start seeing things differently?

First, you stop buying the lottery ticket. It’s a desperate attempt to eliminate the symptom of the problem. In a financial scenario, the symptom is lack of money – the problem is mismanagement of funds.

Even if you occasionally win the lottery, if you don’t manage your money, you’ll keep losing it. The less you manage your money properly, the less confidence you have in your ability to do so. Which means you’ll keep buying lottery tickets . . . and never hitting the jackpot.

In the weight-loss scenario, you diet in a desperate attempt to eliminate the symptom of the problem. The symptom is the weight – the problem is the way you eat.

So you may lose weight on a diet, but if you don’t change the way you eat, you’ll gain it right back. If you don’t change your tendency to eat emotionally, you’ll keep binge eating. Which means you’ll keep dieting and failing . . . and never get the “perfect” body.

So first, you need to quit dieting. Dieting equals failure. Failure means no confidence. No confidence means no changes. No changes means no results. Got it?

You must believe that you are capable of making changes. You must be confident that you can succeed. You have to start seeing through a different lens. The lens of possibility . . . the lens of success.

The Catch 22 is that you have to take action to change how you see things – even when you feel like nothing’s ever going to change.

The good news is that the more action you take, the more confidence you build. And the more confidence you build, the more you start to see things differently. And the more you change how you see things, the easier it is to keep making changes.

So here’s the five-step plan for adopting a success mindset:

1. Stop dieting. We’ve already covered that.

2. Be aware. You have to recognize the collective brainwashing. Notice how many times you engage in conversations with your friends about how hard it is to lose weight or how “fat” you are or how you “just can’t stop eating.”

Make a mental note, and – even better – make real notes. Write it all down. When you see it in black and white, that’s when it becomes real and true awareness sets in.

Also be aware of the conversations about diets and the latest one everyone says will work. Looking for an outside solution is borne out of desperation, which is a direct result of the failure mentality.

Remember, it’s a lens. You don’t notice it’s there. But once you take control and put on the right pair of glasses, you’ll see clearly.

3. Think long term. You have to train yourself to see long term and not short term. Being in it for the long term increases your commitment, persistence, and belief in what’s possible. All of this builds confidence.

Thinking short term is a side effect of failure thinking. Wanting immediate results comes from feeling desperate from failing for so long, and diets offer the quick-fix solution you want so badly. But they don’t ever work.

So refuse to be deluded by their promises. Be committed for the long haul. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds by next month, increase it to 6 months. Pick six habits per month and work on changing one a month. The changes will build on one another and give you exponential results.

4. Have a detailed plan. Don’t leave anything to chance. It’s guaranteed that life will throw obstacles in your path – on a daily basis.

If you have a detailed plan, you won’t get thrown off course so easily. You’ll have a map to follow. Having a plan makes you feel in control and that you’re taking charge.

Create your 6-month goal. Back it out into manageable monthly targets. Set smaller weekly goals for each month.

If your goal to have a salad for lunch 5 days a week, make a list of items you need, and set aside prep time to make everything ahead of time. (This keeps your plan from being derailed by the inevitable chaotic morning.)

5. Take baby steps. Baby steps count more than big leaps. That’s because they’re easier to accomplish and then you get small wins. Small wins give you the momentum to continue, which means you’ll be successful in the long term.

Don’t try to eliminate carbs. Don’t try to lose 10 pounds this week. Don’t try and run a marathon when you can’t run a mile. Drastic actions like these require willpower, which runs out, which means you fail.

If you change your expectation to possibility instead of failure, you’ll start taking action. When you start taking action, you’ll start seeing results. When you start seeing results, you’ll feel more confident and capable. And when you feel this way, nothing can stop you.

And in this process, your body will start to transform to align with your newfound confidence and unshakeable belief that you can succeed.

Remember, your ultimate goal isn’t to lose weight – it’s to change yourself from the inside out. And when you look at it this way, there is no failure.

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Camille Martin, RD

I wasted nearly 25 years of my life trying to lose weight. Now I spend my time running, juicing and "cooking" raw food, and laughing with my baby girls. I thoroughly enjoy growing Love To Lose, so I can teach you all I've learned along the way. I'm beyond excited to help you start your own journey, and I can't wait to meet you one day!
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  1. Myrna Warren Smith on November 23, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Most of us want things to happen immediately with not much patience to take baby steps… also takes patience to put yourself in a position to cope with the constant interruptions in your life…..but once you start this, you will get immediate positives that will encourage you to stay true to yourself.

  2. Celeste Orr on November 23, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Such a good one, Camille!

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