Me or Method?

Everybody falls short, falls off the wagon, fumbles, stumbles, slips up, gives up, or gives in. It happens…to everyone!

Disclaimer: I don’t believe in jinxes or I wouldn’t be writing this. 

We’re human and every human has the experience of failing. (There, I said it – the “f” word.) What happens after we fail is not the same for every human. Some of us, compound the failure by making an assumption that can reduce our chances of future success. We blame ourselves. Blaming is neither fair nor necessary in many cases. Self-blame can be toxic and may erode our resolve, leaving us stuck and feeling hopeless.

To be clear, I’m not saying that we’re not responsible for what happens or doesn’t happen. But there is a difference between being responsible and being to blame. Maybe the reason that we didn’t reach a goal or accomplish a task is because the plan wasn’t adequate.  Maybe some of our failures are due to design flaws* rather than personal insufficiency. Perhaps our plan had some ‘banana peels’ in it. I think looking at ways to redesign the plan might help keep us from beating ourselves up.


When an attempt (to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more) doesn’t yield the results we hoped for, blaming self can lead to hopelessness. Don’t assume the blame – adjust the plan. Make the change you need to make in the plan or method you’re using and try again. Resist the temptation to blame and you’ might be able to stay in the game long enough to win it!


*B J Fogg, PhD has much to say about designing behavior. Check out his TEDx Maui talk: “Tiny surprises for happiness and health”



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