The Yet

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While on our run yesterday, brother-in-law Nick and I had a rather powerful conversation about failure.  We were discussing the thought processes behind achieving professional or fitness goals, and we both admitted to being very fearful of failure.  I try to use the fear of failing as a motivator (I talk about this a lot in the HTP book), but sometimes, the fear of failing holds me back from trying something or makes me quit too soon.


That’s when I realized:  we decide when we’ve failed.  We decide when we’re ready to give up; we decide when we haven’t reached our goal and should just quit.  How powerful would it be to think, “It’s not that I’ve failed… it’s just that I haven’t succeeded yet.”  Yet.  I love this idea of the ‘yet.’  You aren’t a failure.  You’re just not a success yet.


Goals of the week:  Eat regular meals at mealtime (been struggling with this lately because of the bebe), run a total of 18 miles (one more than last week!), sign the lease on our new clinic space, wrap up some other contracts that I’m working on, write another 3,000 words for my novel, and be light in the heart (that’s a vague goal, but a worthy one, right?).


Lunch courtesy of the hubby:



Fruit, veg, tofu, and toast.  Complemented well by my coffee and chocolate.  A bit small, though, so I’m sure I’ll be scrounging up more food very soon.


What are you working towards?



  • Katrina October 8, 2012, 2:27 pm

    New favourite Henry picture, aww.

    Enjoy your successes this week!

  • Kristen L October 8, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I totally agree with you that we have decided when we’ve failed. That is why it is so important to keep pushing and having a positive attitude. Sometimes when we are working toward a huge goal, looking for smaller successes can help avoid that feeling of failure too.

  • Ali October 8, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I’m working so hard to turn my weight loss progress back around. I struggle with disordered eating/excessive exercising but have lost 100 pounds healthfully (under control). All the issues resurfaced this past summer and I’ve put about 10 pounds back on. Now that my mind is back to a better place with the help of therapy, it’s time to focus on being healthy again! I like the idea that we are not failures – we just have succeeded yet! I needed that this afternoon!

  • Dani @ TwoLoveBirds October 8, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I find myself all to often letting my fear of failure hold me back from trying new things and creating new hobbies. I want to succeed, and fast! It’s something I’m working on and I like the idea of changing how I think and realizing that I’m just not a success yet!

    My biggest goal I’m working on right now is kinda lame, I’m trying to be able to wake up at a decent hour! 🙂 I’m one who sleeps until the very last minute and scrambles to get ready in 20 minutes and runs out the door. I would love to be able to wake up, eat breakfast, spend a little time with my hubby and go for a quick jog all before going to work. Easier said then done, at least for me!

    • Caitlin October 8, 2012, 2:46 pm

      haha that is not a lame goal 🙂 i think its a damn worthy one!

  • Allison@commitcomplete October 8, 2012, 3:04 pm

    I’m working towards completing a second marathon.

    I have to tell you how much I love your quote: “It’s not that I’ve failed… it’s just that I haven’t succeeded yet.” I am definitely going to use this with my students!

  • Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer October 8, 2012, 3:08 pm

    So true! It is way too easy for me to discount myself and say that I’m not going to reach my goal- when I totally could. I stop myself from trying for fear of failure. Lamesauce. Trying to keep up with my October goals this month – Keep learning to use the DSLR, set a new lifting PR, and eat clean!

  • Lesley October 8, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Working towards having more viewers on my blog!

  • Katie October 8, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Completely off topic, but I thought of you when I saw this :

    So cute!

  • Natalie @ Free Range Human October 8, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I’m working towards making ventures outside of my 9-5 job successful.

  • Julz October 8, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I LOVE this quote by Lauren Fleshman (aka my hero): “When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a Failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.”

  • Amy October 8, 2012, 3:39 pm

    I’m sure you’ve heard the Thomas Edison quote “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb.” before, but your post reminded me of it. You’re so right…only we decide when to label it a failure.

    Currently, my goals are to keep exercising 3x/week, in whatever changing form that may need to take, as my body changes (currently 22 weeks pregnant) and to tackle at least one small thing a week on the “baby to-do” list.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life October 8, 2012, 3:50 pm

    Working toward making better food choices. I’ve let my increased appetite (26 weeks pregnant) get the better of me and I’m not proud of it! I need to make better choices. Also working toward exercising at least 3 times per week. I have not been feeling very good the past few weeks emotionally and I truly believe it is a result of the overeating and lack of excersice. It is amazing how much good nutrition and moving your body can enhance your overall mood. I’m just in a funk and need to work toward getting out of it!

  • emma October 8, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Henry looks so cute in that pic!

  • Annette@FitnessPerks October 8, 2012, 4:03 pm

    TOTALLY agree! I love knowing that we do have power over our actions & what we think & then do. Telling ourselves powerful stories like “not a success….yet” can have long-lasting/awesome effects. Love this.

    Goal this week: let go of my plans & let God’s plans take shape 🙂

  • Verlin October 8, 2012, 4:25 pm

    I love the “be light in the heart” goal. Nice wording. My goal is to “care 10% less”. Some things items on the list just need to get taken down a notch. Adorable picture, by the way!

    • Verlin October 8, 2012, 4:26 pm

      Oops – things/item, not both. 🙂

  • CJ @ Fill the Well October 8, 2012, 4:39 pm

    I’m working on writing, writing, writing. Fear of failure can be so debilitating here, so thanks for the reminder that failure is a self-created idea in our minds. Reminds me of one of my family’s favorite mottos by Vince Lombardi – “We didn’t lose the game. We just ran out of time”

  • Jasmine, bama + ry October 8, 2012, 5:03 pm

    I struggle with feelings of failure A LOT. I’ve had three business, and while the previous ones didn’t “fail” maybe, they didn’t wildly succeed and I tend to beat myself up over that.

    My husband thinks I’m crazy because 1) he thinks I HAVE succeeded, and 2) it seems like I’m always chasing something “more.” In some ways, like you said above, my fear and even my feelings of failure motivate me to work harder and reach higher. In the end, I think I tend to “grab a few stars” on my journey to the moon, but I also have a tendency to feel dissatisfied because I really wanted that darn moon!

    I think feelings of inadequacy, though, come from worry: worry about tomorrow, worry about what people will say or think. If we live right now, right in this very moment, we usually have more than enough to satisfy us and that’s what I try to remind myself of when I start to fear that I’ll fall short of my dreams or my potential.

    • Laura October 8, 2012, 6:34 pm

      This comment rings so true for me. I love how you phrased it. I am a perfectionist/worry wart too. I struggle with a lot of these same feelings too. 🙂

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 8, 2012, 5:08 pm

    Love this post! I’m working on having more faith when I’m faced with fearful feelings. I don’t make decisions based on fear (quite the opposite!), but sometimes my fear keeps me from really going after what I know I’m meant to do and the person I want and can be!

  • Shari October 8, 2012, 5:16 pm

    I love this idea — and also that success doesn’t have to be defined by reaching the set goal. Taking steps to make it happen, working every day and giving our all, following our dreams … I think that makes us successful, too, just in a different way. 🙂

  • Stephanie @ Food and Fitness 4 Real October 8, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I am working towards losing 5-10 pounds that have crept on over the last 6 months, staying calm in a crazy busy season at work and spending less time on social media in the evenings/weekends so I can enjoy some downtime with my family.

  • Joanna October 8, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I beat myself a lot mentally. Especially lately. But I really like this attitude. I might have leave myself an operation beautiful-style note on my mirror saying the words, “You are not a failure, you are just not a success YET.” Really, <3

  • Rachel October 8, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Henry looks *just* like you in this picture, Caitlin!!

    • Jess October 8, 2012, 7:09 pm


  • Cindy October 8, 2012, 5:59 pm

    I am trying not to fail on so many fronts. Ph.D work, health and fitness, anxiety and chronic pain issues. It’s so overwhelming! Especially when one ends up being at the forefront, the others end up on the back burner. And sometimes I get so scared of failing, I freeze, and end up doing nothing at all!

  • Caitlin October 8, 2012, 6:01 pm

    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm [edit]
    I think this is huge. Do you know the quote “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” That quote is one I often remind myself of because it helps keep you from giving up because who says you’ll even fail?!

    I’m working towards my personal training certificate which is far from easy and I will succeed.

    Alex @ Raw Recovery October 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm [edit]
    I had a really hard time with the concept of failure last year because of the year of medical leave I needed to take. I ended up still finishing college in 8 semesters but I graduated a year later, without my friends, and because of the leave I had to quit the job I worked so hard to get as well as resign as the head of a few programs I had helped start. It was really difficult for me because I kept blaming myself for getting sick and thinking that it was such a big deal to have 2012 on my diploma instead of 2011. It turns out that this was the best decision I probably ever made. I’m not happy that I had an eating disorder but I learned a lot of valuable lessons (such as making mental, emotional, and physical health priorities, who my real friends are, and what I really want to do in life). What I once viewed as a failure I now view as a strength, because my horizons were broadened and I’m now learning how important it is to follow your passions. Had I finished out college like I originally planned, I probably would have kept following my parents’ dreams for me instead of my own. It’s all a matter of perspective, which is easier said than done, but worth it if you can reframe life situations to keep propelling you forward!

    Sheryl October 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm [edit]
    Exercising daily. Pre-baby I used to exercise 5-7 days a week (and sometimes 2x a day.) Post-baby, I really fell of the wagon. Fitting it in with a commute and 40+ hours of work and wanting to maximize baby play time is tough – but also completely necessary.
    So, I’m trying to get back to 5 days a week. So far, I’ve been able to do about 4 days a week… and I have been feeling like a bit of a failure because of this. I guess now I get to say I haven’t met my 5-day goal… YET!
    (This is a great post, thank you!)

  • Laura October 8, 2012, 6:09 pm

    I’m working on my PhD thesis and my novel (and I know which one I prefer writing, heh) with the aim of finishing both next year. So basically, a lot of writing! 🙂 I know the market for fiction is overly saturated right now if you go down the traditional publishing route, so if that doesn’t work out, I’m determined to explore self-publishing as well. You only have one life to go for your dream, right?

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 8, 2012, 6:12 pm

    I think that’s very true, I find myself not fully committing to goals because I’m afraid of failing and disappointing myself. It’s an important thing to recognixe

  • Hillary October 8, 2012, 6:25 pm

    I’m working on my Master’s right now. It’s not easy to do research for my thesis while teaching full time, but the light is definitely visible at the end of the tunnel, and I’m ready to sprint towards it!

  • Angie All The Way October 8, 2012, 7:17 pm

    You are right – it IS really powerful to realize you are the one deciding if/when you have failed. Awesome.

    Henry looks sooooo much like you in this picture! 🙂

  • Erin October 8, 2012, 7:20 pm

    Isn’t it funny how the universe uses so many different avenues to convey the same message? I have been thinking about failure all day. I signed up to take the GRE for the first time and I’m afraid of not measuring up – measuring up to the test and to grad school apps. I know I’ll be ready for the test as I’ve been studying, but failure is my number one fear, and it has kept me from doing things in the past, sadly enough. I like the idea of deciding when I’ve failed as I’ll take the test as many times as need be and I’ll apply as many times as I need to until I get a yes. As long as I persevere, I guess I can’t or won’t fail. Thank you for your post! You always brighten my day.

  • Miss Polkadot October 8, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Thanks for this inspiring thought about failure! It helped me see myself in another light, really. I use to be hard on myself for not having reached goals, still struggling with an ED, … But as you said: It’s just that I haven’t achieved these things YET. I will if only I believe – at least I’ll now try to convince myself. So that’s what I’m working towards: A healthier mindset and going on in recovery. Thanks again!

  • Andrea October 8, 2012, 8:15 pm

    Caitlin and readers, I rarely post but this reminded me of an amazing commencement speech that JK Rowling gave at my brother’s graduation from Harvard in 2008. Easily one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard and very much worth the time to watch this! I completely agree that we personally get to decide when/if we have failed, but in this video Rowling talks the benefits of failure (a humbling and ironic topic for a speech to a class of Harvard grads!!!).

  • Nessa October 8, 2012, 9:15 pm

    I love this post. It reminds me of a quote from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: “Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end.” Thanks for always reminding me to see the positive in life. I’m working towards keeping my self-talk supportive all the time, not just most of the time and completing a real push-up.

  • Megan October 8, 2012, 10:27 pm

    I’m so glad you said your lunch was small and you were going to eat more bc I thought… “I eat so much more than that and I’m not breast feeding anymore!”

  • Cathy @ Showing Up October 9, 2012, 9:18 am

    My first half-marathon is in less than two weeks. I am in the tapering phase , and really need to trust my training.

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