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Failing with abandon

Preventing the cycle of “willpower has failed me; I might as well over-indulge.”

I came across the phrase “failing with abandon” last week and it was a swift and ruthless kick in the pants.

Say you’re trying to eat no more than 2000 calories per day, and then you eat 2300 by the end of dinner, you don’t have to say “well I already missed my target, so I might as well indulge.”

Over and over, I see people set themselves a target, miss it by a little, and then throw all restraint to the wind. “Well,” they seem to think, “willpower has failed me; I might as well over-indulge.” I call this pattern “failing with abandon.”

Nate Soares

In my personal life, I see this everywhere. I fail with abandon like I’m getting paid for it, hence the kick in the pants upon hearing a name for it.

But it’s not a problem at all at work. If I miss a deadline, I don’t say “oh well, it’s already late so I’ll take my time!” I get it done as soon after the deadline as I can.

So what’s the difference? Why do I fail personal goals with abandon but not work goals? The difference is that I fail with abandon on goals that only I care about. When I overeat, I’m the only person who suffers. But my coworkers and managers suffer from me missing deadlines.

Sure, there’s power in having someone watching over my shoulder. This is why accountabilibuddies are a thing. But that’s not enough. The real power comes from having someone else’s success depend on mine.

Failing with abandon is too easy when only I am invested. But how can I get other people invested in my diet and exercise? I don’t know, but that seems like a question worth pondering.

Any suggestions?


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