Challenges: Setting Myself Up for Failure

Why do I do it?

I certainly don’t mean to set myself up for failure, but it’s exactly what I did when I announced 15 days of yoga. Another challenge.

Whyyyyyyyy do I get so hooked on challenges? Am I bored? Need something to shoot for? A glutton for self experimentation?

If it needs saying, here is is- 15 days of yoga was a bust. I started strong and found yogavibes to be a good online yoga option. It offers a wide array of classes so whether you are a beginning or a pro, or looking for 30 minutes or 90 minutes of practice, there is something for you. But, being that it is an online program, it was too easy for my to skip a day or push stop when I got bored halfway through. Clearly, the studio experience fits me better.

So, fine. Web-based yoga didn’t work for me. No biggie. So why did I have to turn it into a 15 day straight challenge? Why not just try it out and report back?

There are a ridiculous amount of question marks in the post already, so clearly I don’t know the answer, but I want to work on it. Sometimes I find challenges invigorating, but often times I find them weighing on me after only a few days. I strive for balance and moderations and not extremes, so why the challenges?

Maybe I’m worried you’ll get bored reading my day to day content? I don’t count calories, I don’t usually follow a set exercise plan, I don’t have any dietary restrictions. I just live. Healthfully (usually). In the ‘burbs.

The ironic part of this is as I type my failure of this one challenge, I’m still participating in Eat in Month. This is not to bash that challenge AT ALL because I’m enjoying eating in more and finding it is benefitting both our wallets and waistlines.

However, a friend is moving across the country next week (Hi A-lex!) and will be passing through at lunch time. She called me about meeting up for lunch. Do you know what was the first thing that went through my head? Oh, but I can’t eat out. I wonder if I should just bring a snack to eat. WHAT?!?! One of my best friends is driving through for an HOUR and I’m worried about a challenge??

That’s when these challenges get a little silly to me.

I think it’s leftover from my all-or-nothing days of diets in college. I like to prove to myself that I can do it without wondering if I should.

I have reached a place where living a healthy balanced life is natural to me. I should celebrate that, but instead I find myself looking for the next best thing to try. I’m always searching for a new challenge.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a challenge problem and I want to work on it. I want to keep goals (running a race, for example), but I don’t want that to flow over into challenges that feel restrictive.

Yesterday morning I went to the gym and knocked out an interval workout that left me shaking. It felt great. I can’t wait to do it again, but I’m learning I don’t need to tell myself I’ll do it Wednesday and Friday, too. What if I get sick? What if it’s beautiful and I’d rather go to the park with Hailey? I don’t want my challenges to get in the way of my life, so I’m going to try my best to not set myself up for failure anymore. I’ll leave it at that.

Can you relate?

Have you ever set yourself up for failure?



  1. says

    I absolutely live for setting high goals/expectations for myself – helps keep me motivated, but I it can backfire. I’ve found through personal experience that I can become attached to much to an ‘end goal’ and completely lose sight of enjoying the process and meaning behind what I’m doing.
    Erica recently posted..How to do a PlankMy Profile

  2. says

    I like a good challenge just as much as anyone – I tried a modified version of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Holiday Challenge – but I find them to be cumbersome and, sometimes, dangerously limiting. For me, I find that challenges allow me to be overly restrictive and give me an excuse not to eat certain things rather than forcing me to make a decision for myself.

    I have wondered about your love of challenges, I must say. I think it was when you mentioned trying the Whole 30 plan.
    Kimberly @ Healthy Strides recently posted..Spring Training: Week 2My Profile

    • says

      Yeah I definitely think I find the switch up in habits exciting, and the marketing of whole30 drew me in. I wanted to see if I really would feel MORE ENERGETIC THAN EV-AHHHH (I know, I’m a sucker.) Long story, short, nope, not for me. I’d drive myself crazy. It’s actually what made me question my love for challenges- haha!

    • says

      I thought about that, because it would be a great solution!, but it would be too far out of her way (off the highway and such) and since she’s just passing through, it would be best for me to meet her.

  3. says

    I love challenging myself but don’t like challenges. Does that make sense? Do something that invigorates you and makes you feel like you worked hard to accomplish it, but don’t put yourself in a box. Your idea about the race is a good example! I have some workout goals, but as long as it’s fun and challenging along the way, I will still feel accomplished. And go have lunch with Alexis…that will be worth it!

    • says

      LOVE the way you put that, Lauren. I want to feel challenged, but the restrictive challenges aren’t the way to do it. I still want to do a yoga class with you though :)

    • julie says

      frankly, I find challenges a bit ridiculous. if you want to do something, do it. why do you need the big fan fair of a “challenge”? my boyfriend and i are trying to eat out less, so you know what were doing? eating out less. no big deal. we just decided it would be a good idea, so we’ve stayed in the past 2 weekends and haven’t gotten lunch in a while.
      bottom line – don’t make a big dang deal out of every thing you do!!!!

  4. Dana says

    I used to be a challenge junkie too, but trying to do (or not do) something every single day is just not doable for me. So now I make really realistic goals for myself and love when I overachieve. For 2013 I wanted to start doing more yoga too. But instead of doing it every day, I told myself I want to practice yoga once a week. And I’ve definitely met it – in fact I find I like it so much I’ve done it several times a week. Without the pressure to do it every single day the act of practicing yoga has even become more rewarding because I haven’t failed.
    What if, instead of eating every single meal at home for an entire month, the challenge was to eat all dinners as a family at home for an entire month? It would still help waistlines and wallets, but with less pressure.

    • says

      Great points, Dana, and I’m so glad you’ve set yourself for success with your goals! I’m taking notes :)
      You’re exactly right, too, instead of feeling accomplished that I did yoga so many days, I felt defeated that I didn’t do it everyday. And where is the joy in that? Thanks for your comment!

  5. Christina says

    My resolution this year is to cut myself a break. I tend to set a lot of goals/expectations/rules for myself, and then get down on myself when I don’t complete them. In 2012, I got really down on myself for not exercising more than I was (meanwhile, I work full time and have an 11 month old!) I would come up with these crazy exercise plans for the week on a Saturday or Sunday (when I was well rested) and they would immediately fall by the wayside once the week started. I actually quit the gym a couple months ago because my rarely-used membership was making me feel so horrible and guilty all the time! This year, my goal is much simpler and more realistic for my life right now – leave the office at lunch and take a 45 minute walk. Every day. So far I’m off to a great start :)

    • says

      What is it with women and our longing to be super woman, right? I’m so glad you’ve found such a healthy goal to strive for and that you’re doing it. You’re an inspiration!

  6. says

    You should set a challenge to stop making challenges. No, just jokin. I have the same problem – I just constantly need to be working and striving on something. I think I’m afraid I will get bored or complacent in my working out if I don’t challenge myself. Though, I do it in all aspects of my life. I am constantly trying to better myself with challenges. Thanks for opening my eyes on my problem. We need to create a support group. Haha.
    Lindsay @ Health Foragers recently posted..Emma June: 7 month updateMy Profile

  7. says

    This is almost the exact post I was writing up in my head. I too took on a challenge that isn’t going so well. In my past, I would select these extreme challenges and conquering them would leave me feeling victorious, as if somehow that 3 week cleanse was changing the world. I think I have finally realized that that isn’t what is important. Like you said, enjoying a healthy well-balanced life is important, leaving room for friends, fun and entertainment, that’s what is important.

  8. Paulina says

    “I just live. Healthfully (usually). In the ‘burbs.” Me too!!! And I think that is the #1 reason I follow your blog. I get annoyed reading other blogs where the blogger is strictly following a diet or exercise plan or organic-only or whatever lifestyle they choose to live. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about something and sticking to it, but its not for me. I strive to eat healthy and keep in shape because I feel good when I do, but I don’t let it control my life.

    So please, don’t worry about us readers getting bored. I first found your blog when we were both pregnant and trying to stay fit, and I still get inspired by you because I can relate to your life.

  9. Danielle says

    I actually think a lot of us like reading your blog because of your ability to live a very balanced lifestyle. So many of the “healthy living” (and yes, the quotes are on purpose) blogs quickly become annoying to me because they lack any sort of balance or perspective if you have kids, a full time job that requires some flexibility, or, frankly, the desire to go to a bar, eat wings and not feel insanely guilty about it. You manage to incorporate the good stuff about healthy living, with the good stuff about just living. Keep it up. We love you just the way you are!

    • Katie says

      I definitely agree with this. Your blog’s appeal to me is your success at a healthy, balanced lifestyle, that leaves flexibility for some drinks or ‘junk’ food every now and then. I was a little disappointed when you brought up the Whole 30 deal, because that really holds no appeal to me. I don’t find there to be anything unhealthy about beans, whole grains, dairy, etc, so restricting those things just doesn’t feel like balance to me. I love your positivity, think you are such a great mom, and always look forward to visiting your site!

      • says

        Thanks you guys! It really means so much to me that you are able to relate to me because that was the purpose of my blog from the start- to show how normal healthy people eat. Sometimes I get caught up in reading too many other ‘health theories’ and need to be called out, so thanks for bringing me back to my core beliefs of balance and moderation! :)

  10. says

    OMG sister. I have SO been there! I try to make goals and “intentions” instead of doing challenges that require something every day. Instead of saying I am going to stretch every single day, I make a goal of stretching more. By doing that, I’m not stressed about being accountable, but it remains in my mind, and I end up thinking, oh yeah! I promised myself I would stretch more, and for good reason. So I stop and stretch for a little bit, or make a note to after my workouts. It’s all about the mental side :)

  11. Ann says

    My name is Ann, and I have a challenge problem. I struggle with the same question – I love the structure and discipline of committing to something difficult, but what I figured out is that I was taking on challenges that were unrealistic for me. This year I set a bunch of resolution-related goals, and even though they’re not exciting, they are all things I know I can do all year. Things like do one sun salutation every day (previously I had set a goal to do 1.5 hours of yoga every day – going from 0 to 60!). Write or call one long distance friend/family member each week (previously I set the goal of three cards or calls to loved ones each week – again, 0 to 60 and I don’t think I ever made a single contact because the goal was overwhelming compared to where I was). This year, I focused on habits I wanted to create and figured out the smallest step I could take. Does that resonate with you?

    • says

      Hiiiii Ann 😉
      Heck yes this resonates with me. I strive to be the best person I can be and run myself into the ground by trying to do so. You took the words right out of my mouth and I love the way you’ve modified your goals to be more reasonable, while still helping you grow in the direction you desire. Great tips!

  12. says

    I can SO relate to this post and I thought you wrote about it eloquently. So many of us fall into this “all or nothing” attitude…like you can’t be proud of yourself if you only do 14 days of yoga or 13 or 12 or even just one…it’s more than you were doing…and you are trying something new…I’m completely with you that sometimes you have to go with the flow…life is about the experiences and we can’t miss out on them because we are too worried that we will FAIL our self-inflicted challenges. Thanks for an eye-opening post and for always writing an inspirational blog!!
    Kaye recently posted..The Big 4-0My Profile

    • says

      You hit the nail on the head, Kaye! Instead of being proud of myself for doing 6 days of yoga, I was frustrated. SIX days of yoga is more than I did in the entire last month. I should have been ecstatic! Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. says

    I LOVE THIS POST. I am fighting that all the time, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. It’s always all or nothing. And then you WILL fail. and you will be right, that yes, you couldn’t do it. Buy why? Who benefits from all the stress? No one! Thanks for posting this. I definitely aspire to your healthy attitude.. just living in a world where healthy choices come naturally and I’m not worried about what challenge i’m a part of that week.
    Kayla @ Lovely Ride recently posted..25 goals before my 26th birthday.My Profile

  14. says

    Great post and something that I think so many of us can relate to. I think just last time I commented I told you about how I tried Whole30 and quit after just 5 or 6 days. I’ve always felt like I put big (unrealistic) goals out there.. just to feel like I never follow through later on. Sometimes I’ll even say at the bottom of a post… “Tonight I’ll edit those pictures and get them up tomorrow – check back!” But then tonight comes and I have a million other WAY more important things to do and I feel like a failure when I get them up a week later. It seems stupid. And you’re exactly right — why don’t I just edit them and put them up when I do (like trying yoga and just reporting on it after) instead of announcing it to everyone. WHAT’S WRONG WITH US?? Ahhhh!
    Michelle @ Lifewithacrazypup recently posted..The Trouble TreeMy Profile

  15. says

    I totally set myself up for challenges that I may fail at and then I get down on myself which isn’t good. This week is already crazy as I have been working from home the past two days because my mom (who babysits) is now sick with the flu. Gotta tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and you are doing a great job.
    Karen recently posted..Keely’s First Birthday PartyMy Profile

  16. Becky says

    I totally hear you on the ‘all or nothing’. I do the…. “If I eat a piece of XXXX (fill in the blank with something unhealthy) at work – I’ve just blown the WHOLE DAY OF EATING! Might as well have the chocolates, and drink a soda…” etc.

    I think mind is left over from DI college sports days when it was 100%….or else. I’m 10 years out of college and STILL working on it.

    Thanks for the honest post.

  17. says

    I believe we are the same person. I always challenge myself and try to make changes in my life with good intentions…but they always backfire.

    Sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes, I realize that I don’t need.. 15 days of yoga, 2 weeks of no red meat, 4 weeks of no Diet Coke…in order to create a healthy life, because I’m already living it. Just as you are. I think if a challenge doesn’t bring you joy from the beginning and all the way through, it’s not a healthy challenge for you. If at anytime, you feel anxious, it’s time to make a new challenge or just live and let live.

    But, I think we make make challenges for ourselves in hopes that they will turn into HABITS. When we find that they aren’t easily forming a habit, then perhaps, that’s an area of our life that just needs moderation. I’ve been successful with a few; such as winding down each night with a good book before bed. It started as a challenge, brought me a lot of joy and now is a nightly habit that I don’t have any plans of breaking. To me that was a good challenge. But there have been plenty of others that were not :)

    So sorry about the book in your comment section! I just could relate to this so much!
    Maria recently posted..5 Ways to Break a FunkMy Profile

  18. says

    I totally agree! I am very goal oriented but if they are too strict you set yourself up for failure. I know some people swear by writing their workouts in their calendars to keep them accountable. If i do that i just stare at them all week dreading them, sometimes dont do them, then am disappionted and make myself feel like crap over it. However if I find a block of free time and make a quick decision to workout its so much more enjoyable!

  19. Jodi says

    I don’t call them challenges per say, but def set myself up for failure. Mainly just stretching myself too thin trying to be a great mom to Avery ( and now Emmy:) , a great doctor and work partner, a great wife, daughter, etc… And inevitably i fall short somewhere. Whether its not making dinner ( hubby disappointed), not finishing all my patient charts ( corporate unhappy), not being able to help out more at work ( partners frustrated)… You get the point. Over the past year I have found myself saying over and over in my head ‘ I wish I was that
    awesome, but I am not…’ I finally realized that I was doing this and have tried to quiet that voice. I never say ‘ dammit I am doing e best I can and that’s pretty damn good! ‘ l think we all have it in us to be self-defeating, where what we do is not good enough. So I am trying to work on that this year. good luck with your challenge rut! I am always impressed w all you do, no need for challenging that!

  20. Kate says

    I find for myself, I love challenging myself, but it feels even better if I can PROVE to myself that I can do it repeatedly. There’s something comforting (this isn’t a great quality, I know!) about proving to myself that I can stick to something JUST because I told myself I was going to. It’s certainly better than being overly restrictive with food or extreme with exercise, but for me it kind of comes from the same place, if that makes sense. So, good for you for realizing it!! And for being able to talk yourself out of it and realize that it’s okay to not stick to it–it doesn’t make you weak or unable to stick to things; it makes you realistic and means that you are willing to prioritize health and happiness over proving to yourself that you can follow through with some arbitrary challenge. I’m bookmarking this one to come back to when I need a reminder :)

  21. says

    That is tough. I always want to set challenges for myself but also get pretty disappointed when I fail for one reason or another. I say you go out with your best friend and have a blast! Challenges should have exceptions for impromptu best friend visits. :)
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  22. KatieTX says

    I think this comes from the idea that once weight loss is over and you are in maintenance mode, you find yourself stuck in a “now what?” type attitude. So essentially, people tend to do challenges or make new goals for themself feeling like they need to have some type of accomplishment. Isn’t living healthfully accomplishment enough? Being able to sustain a healthy weight is quite a triumph in itself. Just live in the present :)

  23. says

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I have felt like a failure the past 2 weeks, I had unexpected work travel and got sick. Things haven’t worked out but it’s ok and life will go on if I don’t have a ‘perfect’ January! Thank you again!!

  24. says

    I heard somewhere (Today Show, maybe?) that as soon as it comes out of your mouth (or in this case off your fingers) that you have a goal or resolution to do something that you already feel like you have accomplished your goal, so you often don’t go into doing the work to, you know, do it. I’m not sure if that is totally true, but it makes sense. Anyway, maybe that was the case? But, I think that everyone right now is having a bit of a January let-down- not accomplishing what they promised they would. Don’t beat yourself up! You learned something- that didn’t work for you. Plus, I know you usually do really well on your challenges.
    Cassidy @ wine and ice cream recently posted..All the Pregnant Ladies (If You Like it Ya Better Put Some Bio Oil On It)My Profile

  25. says

    I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I can relate to this! I always do this to myself…always…and then I get frustrated because I’m the only one who is bothered by it! I get this idea in my head that I’ll be letting myself down when, in reality, there’s absolutely no reason to think that way…It’s such a mental game!
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..we have to change.My Profile

  26. says

    I tend to want to be a challenge warrior, too. I recently set myself up for failure with a 2013 challenge of “traveling” (running, swimming, cycling, etc.) 2,013 miles this year. That averages out to about 5.5 miles per day, while my actual miles achieved average out to about 2 miles per day. I already know I’ve set myself up for failure, and even worse, I’ve made this news public! I LOVE a good self-challenge, but I need to find the balance between challenging myself (and blogging about it…) and over-extending myself! Thanks for the relief that I’m not alone :-)
    Anne Kendall recently posted..“Squashing” the CompetitionMy Profile

  27. Jodie says

    Definitely relate. And I want you to know that I read because I find your life refreshing. I enjoy reading about your balanced life and your munchkin.

  28. says

    I am (obviously) very behind on blog reading (or, well, commenting). I am so happy I caught this post, though. I feel like I need to be more in the place where you are (or at least where you are headed). Balance, and just LIVING. I see all of these challenges and wonder if I am missing out on something, but maybe it is just that. Maybe we just feel like we need to challenge ourselves to be better, when we should be focusing on challenging ourselves to just BE.

    Not sure if that makes any sense, but I appreciate your candor. :)
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