The Agony of Defeat

Falling DownHere it is the middle of the month, and I have a confession to make: This has been my worst record for any 30-day challenge thus far in my experience. I stated my goal at the beginning of this month:

I want to write an e-book (electronic book). I have purchased a course to guide me through the formatting process of a Kindle ebook, and I am almost through with it (the course, not the book). The next step is to start on the book. This is a BIG goal for me. I’m not sure I will be able to actually complete the book by the end of this month, but I can commit to working on the book (or the course) every day this month.

I cannot really explain my failure with this challenge except to say that life has been very busy this month with out-of-the-ordinary issues that I hadn’t really planned on (imagine that; things happening that I didn’t plan for). Not only have I failed in my 30-day challenge this month, but I have backslidden in my writing discipline, as well. Even as I sat down to write this morning, I struggled with what to write about. It occurred to me that I just needed to come clean, to let you, my readers, know that I have not succeeded this month. It’s easy to report when I have been successful, but maybe it will be more helpful to you this month to hear about my struggles. So here it goes: Overall this month, I would have to say that my 30-day challenge is a big, fat failure.

BUT I AM RENEWING MY CHALLENGE TODAY. I choose to look at it this way: I’m getting a late start in the month of January. Nevertheless, I will start afresh, press on and finish strong! Who knows? Maybe I’ll double my usual progress by adopting this attitude!

Actually, this is one of the premises of this blog—to encourage people to start where they are, to build one tiny baby step at a time, then to gradually increase their capacity by stretching a little further, until—BOOM!—‘suddenly’ they’re an expert in the field that once was so difficult for them. What better way to impart this truth than to demonstrate it?

So, before you as my witnesses today, I renew my 30-day challenge (now a 15-day challenge) to study the aforementioned course a little every day and/or to work on the aforementioned ebook and to get back on the writing wagon.

Years ago, I had a friend who declared he was going on a week-long fast (as in abstaining from food for that period of time). That was on a Sunday, and he was going to start the next day. The following Sunday, I asked him how it went. He immediately dropped his head in shame. “Well, on Monday I actually forgot I was fasting, and I ordered a hamburger for lunch. I had gobbled up the onion before I remembered. And then I thought, Oh well; I’ve eaten the onion. I might as well eat the hamburger.” That was the end of his week-long fast.

There’s a more than a couple of things strange about that story. First of all, why would anyone eat a raw onion? Yuck! Secondly, since he remembered his fast before he ate the hamburger, why didn’t he stop right then, count his “losses,” and continue with his fast? (I suppose if I had just eaten a raw onion, I too, would want to drown out that taste with a nice juicy hamburger.) And finally, even after eating the hamburger, why didn’t he renew his commitment and start again?

But enough about my onion-eating, fast-breaking friend. One of the wonderful revelations I have received since beginning the 30-day challenge concept six months ago is how much more productive I am when I settle for imperfection. Most of my life I have been a “frustrated perfectionist.” I wanted to be perfect, and thus, my frustration—because I never attained it. So many of my plans and dreams and projects have fallen by the wayside of my life because I couldn’t do them perfectly (I’m serious).

When I started this blog in January of last year, I had visions of writing inspiring posts that would change people’s lives. I had a rude awakening on that very first post. I wrote and re-wrote and tweaked and polished until, finally—hours later—I felt comfortable clicking “Publish” and waiting for all the world to read. The rude awakening? I didn’t have hours to spend writing posts on a regular basis. And so, over the next six months, only ten more posts went up. That’s where the first 30-day challenge came in and provided me the pressure I needed to write imperfect posts (111 imperfect posts since that time; this makes 122).

And so today, I am writing another imperfect post about a very imperfect 30-day challenge experience, but my hope is that I will not only write about, but also demonstrate for you, the principle in Proverbs 24:16, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…” Today’s post is me getting up, dusting myself off and starting afresh. I’m no longer frustrated. I’m righteous.

How about you? Have you been frustrated with your progress towards your goals this month? Maybe you’ve already let your “New Year’s resolutions” fall by the wayside. Think about my onion-eating friend. It’s really a little ridiculous to throw in the towel this early in the year, isn’t it? Maybe your goal/resolution needs a little tweaking? Maybe you need to do a little experimenting? Whatever the case, we know that tiny actions can make huge differences. So if, like me, you have not been all that successful this month, will you renew your commitment and settle for righteousness instead of perfection? Leave me a comment and tell me how you’re doing.

Photo compliments of Creative Commons License D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight

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12 Responses to The Agony of Defeat

  1. Mwenzi says:

    Hello Diane,

    What an amazing experince!

    I have fallen prey many times to unfinished projects and this some
    times is very frustrating. The reason being that I always feel;
    I have not done it perfectly. This in turn makes me take so long doing
    one thing because I want it perfect and sometimes even after spending so
    much time on it, its still imperfet and guess what? It ends up

    being a waste of so much time and and yet accomplishing nothing.
    Your experience has helped begin to look at and deal with things

    • Diane says:

      Hi Mwenzi! It’s good to hear from you!
      I think our experience of striving for perfection to the the point of accomplishing nothing is fairly common! May we dust ourselves off and keep going!

  2. I love that we are imperfect but he makes us perfect.
    Even in our flaws, even in our frustrations, and a striving towards a “perfection” that only we have made up in our minds! I am sure God looks down and says silly Jerrica you are not made to be perfect in you but to continue to be perfected in me! I would hope he had a sense of humor. lol
    Thanks for this because I too grow frustrated with knowing that I can do more but not grasping it all at once. Its all in his timing not my own.

  3. Katie Solvie says:

    Thank you Diane! I love this. I think your term “frustrated perfectionist” fits me perfect (ha) as well! I tend to set expectation on myself and others and always fall short! I know things happen but sometimes I have such a big expectation of something, I don’t even start it because of the fear of not meeting the expectation. I am still learning to recognize this and tweek as needed. The verse is a great one to keep on my mind!

    • Diane says:

      It’s good to recognize and overcome the perfectionistic tendencies as soon as possible, Katie. The longer you wait, the more missed opportunities you’ll experience. I sure wish I had learned earlier in my life.

  4. Cindy Lofton says:

    I really loved reading this. I also got a good laugh out of the picture you chose to depict ‘defeat’ up top, and then your opinion of those who CHOOSE to eat raw onions. (I’m not one of them, but my father in law eats them like an apple. It’s just wrong.) This month’s challenge for me of getting up with alarm has been terrible. I’ve only achieved this a handful of times. I could give a whole bunch of excuses if you want to hear, but I won’t! Instead, I’ll just swallow them and look ahead to tomorrow. Honestly, after reading this post a few days ago, it inspired me to get focused on my challenge again, so the past 2 mornings I’ve done it. I really, really liked your statement of “I’m no longer frustrated. I’m righteous.” Wow, that was powerful. Made me think of the scripture “As a man thinks, so he is.” Like the other ladies who left comments, I’ve struggled with being a frustrated perfectionist, as well, I think since I was a little kid! So this post is hitting a lifelong issue for me on the h-e-a-d. When I first read of your ‘failure’, I thought, “What? Diane didn’t get 100% 30 day challenge?!” After I got over my shock, I felt relieved. I felt like maybe I wasn’t such a failure myself and there is still hope for me to build these new habits I want to build, even though I’m going on 2 months of trying to get up with my alarm and not achieving it like I want to. Would you recommend me taking a break from this challenge and focusing on something else for awhile just to start fresh with something? Or would it be more effective to keep hammering away at this one? Just curious what you think.

    • Diane says:

      I enjoyed your comment, Cindy. I wonder if you compared how you are doing NOW with how your were doing BEFORE the challenge, how you would measure up. I find that, even when I “fail,” if I am trying, I accomplish more than before just because I am trying. Is that the same for you?
      As for starting fresh with a new challenge, I think that might be good for you (but, even though you no longer label it as your challenge, you still continue to hammer away on the alarm clock issue). Just my humble opinion. 🙂

  5. Pingback: The First of the Month | My Pleasant Places

  6. rebekahbeene says:

    I want to know if you were ever successful at the ebook design. I’m right there and even though KDP (Amazon) says easy, it is nothing at all easy.

    • Diane says:

      Rebekah, I never got that far. Gotta write a book before I start designing the cover. I did buy some software (downloadable) that promised me it would be easy. I haven’t tried it, yet, though.

  7. Viso says:

    Hi Diane
    I’m being directed here some years later by the app. Thanks for your hilarious post!

    It made me think of Tess of the D’Urbevilles :

    “How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation…Perfect, he, as a lover, might have called them off-hand. But no — they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity.”

I love to read your comments!