I said something to a friend this last week that stuck with me. Sometimes my own words do that. They pop out of my mouth and then actually speak to me while speaking to the other person.

Wendy Nichol Blog - Learning Not Failing 2

I said, “when I had zero mommying skills I wasn’t FAILING as mom. I was LEARNING.” This revealed a few things to me. 1) I’ve really grown from my pessimistic days (recovering pessimist here, haha) and 2) my, how that way of thinking could change everything for some people!

The thing is it CAN feel like falling when we’re learning how to fly.


As a society, we spend so much time focusing on results that we miss the beauty in the process. We’re a week into the new year and I wonder how many people have already “failed” at their new year’s resolutions. I wonder how many have gone from excitement for new habits ahead to confirmed disappointment.

I wonder how many no longer make resolutions because they’ve never kept them (that’s me) and what this does to their motivation as a whole. Do they no longer believe in themselves to change and grow? Or do they just resolve to change over time, every day of every week of every year instead of saving it for a specific time?

I think most people want a catalyst. They want something to mark the new beginning as though this marker will thrust them in and hold them accountable.

Gyms survive on January enrollment due to all of the people that sign up hoping to be different this year and take a new body to the beach.

When you didn’t drink water the first day, had your third energy drink and didn’t work out you said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” “Tomorrow” is your new catalyst, your new beginning. Tomorrow came and went and you still didn’t do them. By the next day, you’re starting to doubt that you will change at all or worse you resolve that you cannot change.


So, what’s the difference between failing and learning?

It’s mindsetIt’s getting back up. It’s making one tiny change at a time vs. deciding you can’t change.

It’s really easy to imagine an ideal in your head and then feel disappointment every time you look in the mirror.

When you resolve to be the change that you long for, you have to involve grace to get from A to B. Eventually you can get from B to C. I used to think there was this elusive personality type that just accomplishes whatever they set their minds to. To some extent that’s true but anyone can be that person. Those people have accomplished… so they know they’ll accomplish again. They trust themselves to complete.

If I were to have written down the habits that I wanted to build a year ago and then get down on myself every day because I wasn’t there yet, I would never have grown. It took a process of change – not a catalyst.

Here’s something that can get you started.

  • Create the big picture – Write it out. Who are you in five years?
  • Write out a first step and the rest of them in order. Do this as though you were giving someone else instructions to bake a cake. Example: 1) grab your ingredients and stage them, put these three in the bowl and mix for five minutes 2) put these next three ingredients in a separate bowl and stir etc
  • Do step one with as much fervor as you can muster. Focus on how exciting it is to be the person you know you are instead of how hard it is to do something new.
  • Give yourself grace to NOT be doing the other steps yet. Would you really get mad at someone for not mixing in the eggs if they were supposed to be mixing the flour, baking soda and sugar first?
  • When you have step one down do step two.

In my son’s writing and language arts class we teach a motto; “easy plus one.” You require of your student what is easy and then add one element. When that one is easy you add the next element. I find this incredibly freeing. I stop staring at the long list of things I have to teach him, and I focus on the ONE thing.

I’ve read/heard things before that say you have to reward yourself for the accomplishments and punish yourself for the failures to stay motivated. I’m just not a fan punishment. For anything. Isn’t living in lack of growth punishment enough? And I can say that accomplishing a goal or recognizing personal growth is a significant reward! I feel so amazing when I go to bed early and get up early! AMAZING! Because I struggled with it for SO LONG!

I love the motto “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” by Benjamin Franklin (derived from a text written by Aristotle). It’s been in my heart for YEARS. But it’s just been in the last year that I’ve been stepping into this habit and I haven’t even completely mastered it yet. My inner clock is adjusting though. I actually wake up before my alarm at 4 am! That’s crazy!

Also, I have said a thousand times that I’m not a morning person. “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” Then I had a morning person as my firstborn. He was vibrant and happy by 5 am. EVERYDAY ya’ll! So, I really started hating mornings… But now I LOVE them. It’s truly becoming my default. I really love the quiet as I focus and center my day on the things I need to start well. I start my day instead of my little people and all of their demands starting it for me.

What I love most about accomplishing my goals is feeling like who I am is aligning with how I live. So many people live in constant conflict with themselves because on the inside they know they are something else, but they struggle to align their habits and activities with their values. 

There’s hope. There’s always hope. You can do this! Whatever your goals and dreams are you have the power to make them happen.

The disappointments of the past can be shaken off. They don’t define you. They should never be your inner voice. Habits are not magically installed. They are learned. They have to be repeated to become our default. But do it! Make the change. Change your default.

I’m not failing. I’m learning. What are you learning today? 


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