Tired of Being a Habitual Failure – I Give Up Too Easily

Question – What do Muay Thai fighting, 10 day juice feasting, and 15 week intermittent fasting have in common?

Answer – These are three goals that I set for myself within a twelve month period, and I failed to achieve each one of them.


I’ve achieved far more in the last seven years than I managed with the other 36 years that make up my life. I’ve turned my dreams into reality, and I’ve become better at dealing with adversity. I’ve plenty to feel proud about, but when I turn a more critical eye on my track record I notice a worrying recent trend – I’ve failed to achieve my last three goals.

First Failure – Fight Muay Thai

In 2011, I set myself the goal of fighting Muay Thai while writing a book about my experiences. I put aside my reservations about being an out-of-shape-middle-aged-wimp and made the decision to take on the hardest challenge of my life. Over a period of six months, I managed to build up to training full-time at Muay Thai – intense exercise for seven hours a day, six days a week. I got over my fear of being punched in the face, and my amazing adventure was documented in my book Muay Thai Fighter. It was a wonderful experience, but I still walked away feeling like a failure.

I’ve lots of excuses for why I didn’t get to step into the ring for a real fight. I did have problems with injuries, and I mentally wasn’t ready to face this challenge. Sadly, all of these problems were due to poor planning and over-estimation of my own abilities. I’d been told that even a young guy would need to train full-time for at least three months, but I kept on trying to cut corners. I also know that my excuses aren’t worth shit – I failed to do what I set out to do and it still stings.


Second Failure – 10 Weeks of Intermittent Fasting

This time last year, I set a goal of intermittent fasting for 10 weeks. My aim was to reduce my risk of heart disease (this killed my father at age 60), improve my mental clarity, and lose a bit of weight. I had two days every week where I ate less than 500 calories. I found this easy to manage for the first few weeks, but I became a bit disillusioned because of my failure to lose much weight. By week eight I was experiencing hunger pains, and I no longer had the motivation to keep going, so I just gave up.

Third Failure – 15 Days of Juice Fasting/Feasting

Last September, I challenged myself to a 15 day juice fast. I’d already comfortably managed a five day fast, so it didn’t seem like too much of a big deal. By day 10 I was feeling physically ill, so I once again decided to give up on a goal I’d set myself. At the time it did feel like the right thing to do, but it still goes down in my record as another failure.

Repeated Failure and Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief we have in our ability to achieve something. The higher our self-efficacy, the more likely we are to achieve a goal. The way to increase our self-efficacy is to achieve things, and the way to reduce it is to fail. Each of my failures has meant a hit on my self-efficacy, and this can mean that I will be more likely to give up the next time I’m faced with a challenge. Failure is an important element of success but only if I have the inner strength to keep picking myself back up again.

Enough with the Failure Already

I’m not happy with my recent record of failure. I don’t like the fact that on each of these occasions I gave up so easily – it is not how I like to view myself. I can’t undo the past, but I can try again. I’m going to attempt do the 15 day juicing fast and 10 week intermittent fast – only this time I’m not going to allow failure to be an option. I would also love to have another shot at fighting Muay Thai, but this seems to be an impossible dream at the moment. Maybe if I achieve the first two goals, a path will become obvious for how I can achieve the third. Even if I can make up for two of these recent failures, it is going to give my self-efficacy a much needed boost.

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9 thoughts on “Tired of Being a Habitual Failure – I Give Up Too Easily

  1. Is the overall goal health? Because if it is then maybe quitting those kinds of drastic methods is a step toward the goal. I don’t know. I know I tried a cleansing diet that promised me the world and gave me an irritable bowl for months afterwards.

    1. Hi Liz, I see it as a way to give my body a clean sheet before making some long-term changes. It is also just something that I want to see through to the end. I might never try fasting again after this, but I just want to see it through once.

  2. Also, basic food combining worked better for me. It got me really in tune with my digestive system and I slowly but surely lost weight until I got off track and ate Tokyo.

  3. Hey Paul, the other thing in common about all those activities is that they are hard as hell! Seriously, I wouldn’t feel too bad about not completing those items to the extent you originally envisioned. The 15 day juice fast sounds a little too extreme for my taste…It took me a couple of years to ratchet my competitive running up to the 10K race level and its still a struggle for me!

    Also, being a good father and husband really is a choice. There are certainly plenty of guys who have quit when it comes to those roles, sadly…

    Anyway, good luck if you do take up these goals again!

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