12 days of fitness, Day 7

Don’t be stopped by the “tried that” delusion.

I’ve seen many people dabble in and discard one diet and workout program after another. It’s easy to say everything failed to work. Now, this can indicate a huge problem…but it’s a problem that’s easy to solve once you know how.

Whenever you think: “I tried that and it didn’t work,” do you actually mean: “I implemented it 100% and proved that it doesn’t work”? Or, do you sometimes mean, “I dabbled with that approach, but never did it fully enough to know whether it worked”?

Real failure helps you course-correct; it tells you what not to do. BUT there’s real failure, and then there’s “fool’s failure.” Fool’s failure happens when you conclude that an action failed after never really taking that action. The “tried that” delusion is fool’s failure.

Now, this is an easy thinking error to make, because there’s a sense in which the action didn’t work–you didn’t get the desired result. But if you didn’t fully take the action, how will you ever know if that action works?

If you’re deluding yourself into thinking you’ve taken the actions when you haven’t, this can create an endless vicious cycle of seeking ever new advice, books, experts, programs, etc.

We’ve probably all made this mistake before…I sure have. But I don’t want you do be caught in this trap any more.

So, keep these two issues clear and separate:

    1. Does a course of action work in reality to achieve your goals?

    2. Are you fully taking the actions that are part of your plan?

If the issue is the latter, looking for a new plan of action will probably not solve your problem. Instead, look for solutions to the problem of not taking actions you’ve identified you want to take. There are various reasons why you might not be taking the actions, and solutions to these do exist. But you won’t find those solutions by looking for a new answer to issue #1.

Quick Recap:

Keep on alert for the red flags of the “tried that” delusion, of “fool’s failure,” and of conflating whether a plan works with whether you took action.

When you notice this problem, here is the solution:

    1. Separate the two issues above.

    2. Address each issue as needed.

The better you do this, the more I think you’ll find that both your failures and successes will lead you forward–towards your goals.

Now, I don’t want you to be confused that I think the *only* important thing is to take action. Some people say that ANY diet and ANY workout routine will work as long as you do it consistently. They say the only issue is the need to do *something* consistently. I strongly disagree with that. Reality, not our intentions, determines what works. Some approaches work far better than others. And some approaches are downright counterproductive.

In addition to avoiding the “tried that” delusion, I think it’s necessary to put effort into determining what actions are best to take to achieve your goals. And it’s important to observe the feedback your get from the actions you take (i.e., did they actually fail?)–and adjust your strategy accordingly.

To health and life,

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