By Leo Babauta

In yesterday’s article, we started to discuss a flexible approach to handling disruptions and habit misses.

Today, let’s talk about the skill of staying positive when you get off track.

One of the most important factors in sticking with a habit is how you feel about the habit change. If you feel positive about it, you’re likely to stick to the habit. If you start to feel discouraged, it’s important to pick yourself back up and find some successes. Otherwise, you might get even more discouraged, and soon be in danger of quitting the habit change altogether.

So managing your emotions around the habit change is important. One of the best skills for doing that is learning to see successes and feel good about them. And to do that when you get disrupted or miss a day or two, you have to see these misses as successes.

The key is to see where you messed up, and think of this an an opportunity.

Imagine if you were trying to get really good at shooting a basketball. You’re driven to improve, so you’re constantly looking for areas where you can get better. If a coach tells you, “Flick your wrist more to get more spin on the ball,” you might think, “Oh I suck!” or you might instead think, “Great! This is a chance to improve something.” And then you’d practice that until you got some good spin on the ball.

With habits, a miss or disruption or procrastination … these are like the coach telling us where we can improve.

Instead of thinking, “Oh I suck!” … we should think, “Great! An opportunity to improve my skills.”

Because habit skills can always be improved. You can take that as a sign that you should just give up because you’re not good at something, or you can see the greatness in a chance to get better at your skills.

Each mistake, each miss, each failure … these are golden opportunities to learn, to get better, to master the skill. You should relish each one.

Action Step

Please take the following action today:

  1. Review your failures, and see what skills you can improve. The skills you can improve include all the ones we’ve discussed so far. This should only take a minute or two to review. Now see these failures as a great opportunity to improve those skills.