February + March Challenges: Giving Up Is Not The Answer

I thought yearly goals were hard, but monthly goals are just as hard.

I had planned to write about my February and March challenges but I failed badly. What ended up happening for both months was that I would put off the challenges and give up. I don’t have much to say about the challenges, so instead I’ll be reflecting on what happened and how I can improve moving forward.

What’s interesting is that I was the one who set up these challenges for myself. Here’s what I learned:

I constantly tell myself I can’t do it when the task is too difficult.

That’s hard for me to admit because it’s not something I’m proud of. It has a lot to do with not believing in myself and not trusting that I’ll eventually get there if I keep at it.

An example of that is my March challenge. I set to read Chinese for one hour every day. It’s something that I keep saying I want to work on but have a hard time starting. For some reason, every time it popped into my mind that it was time for me to read, I let myself off the hook too easily and thought to myself, “Nah. I have other things to do right now, so I’ll push it off and try again tomorrow.”

To be honest, I didn’t have a legitimate reason to skip reading. Deep down, I knew it was my insecurity with failure. I knew that reading Chinese would be difficult and I didn’t want to struggle and fail. My mind wasn’t strong enough to push myself through the self-doubt. It seemed impossible that I could ever become proficient in Chinese. It felt like I didn’t have control over how I felt. I also didn’t realize I could stop feeling that way and do something about it. Eventually it was the end of the month and I didn’t do anything different about those thoughts.

Action plan: Whenever I start to tell myself I can’t do something, take a deep breath, and think to myself, “Yes, I can’t do this right now, but here’s what I can do to move forward, no matter how small the step.”

When I see that something isn’t working out, I don’t take action.

I feel like I’ve exhausted all my options, when in reality I haven’t. Part of it is because I’m lazy and don’t hold myself accountable enough. Instead of reminding myself the “why” for creating these challenges, I run away from them and let negative self-talk take over me because it’s easier than facing my fear of failure. Part of it is also that I have a hard time asking for help because I don’t feel comfortable being vulnerable and weak in front of people.

Action plan: Write down the steps where I can physically see so I’m reminded of why I want to do it in the first place. Adjust as necessary to get through any road blocks by asking for help or simply writing down what isn’t working.

I would rather fail 100% than succeed 20%.

In February, I created a habit tracker to jot down the days I woke up at 6AM. I was used to going to bed at 2AM and waking up at 10AM so this was going to be a hard challenge. knew I had to slowly work my way up. I didn’t expect myself to fill in those boxes in my habit tracker for the first week. But then the second week rolled around and Chinese New Year was upon us. My family played mahjong all through the night and didn’t sleep until 4 in the morning almost everyday. By the end of the week, my sleeping schedule was so wack that I had trouble getting back on track.

Three weeks into February, I realized more than half of my habit tracker wasn’t colored in. Then I thought, “This is terrible. I barely achieved what I set out to do this entire month, so I might as well give up now since I’ll only have 2-3 boxes filled in by the end and to me, that’s considered a failure.” If I hadn’t pressured myself into thinking that it was about how many times I could wake up at 6AM and not about learning about myself through this process, maybe I would have stuck with it.

Action plan: When it feels like I don’t have enough “time” to accomplish something because of an expectation I set for myself, remind myself that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t fill all the boxes and write down what I learned so far to allow myself to see the small strides I’ve made so far.

Moving Forward

This month I’m working on building a morning routine that will help kickstart my day in a more productive manner. I’m writing a post about it so I’ll go into more detail later. This time around, I wrote down the things I wanted to get done in the morning and stuck it on my closet so I could see right as I woke up. The visualization of these words definitely helps remind me why I want to do these things.

So far I’m only two days in and I am already hitting a minor roadblock. But I haven’t given up. I did some research on how I can mitigate the challenge I’m facing and will test it out to see if it helps. It’s giving me a boost of motivation to tackle this problem now that I have a concrete actionable solution. Taking into account what I learned from the last two months, I will apply these action plans when I see myself making the same mistakes.

What are some things you do to help you get back on track after failure?


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