Don’t you just wish you could press the reset button sometimes?

This idea seems to keep popping up in different forms recently, so I thought it might be time to blog about it. Which may be ironic since I’ve been neglecting this blog of late – so consider this post the Legal Ease Blog “do over.”

It strikes me also that, although I’m not Jewish, I am posting this on Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. For those of you who celebrate, Happy New Year – and aren’t New Years great for starting over?

Two recent incidents brought the do-over idea to mind:

False Start

First during my regular weekly video roundtable session (I’ll blog more about that another time, but if you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen me post about it there) when one of my fellow presenters had a bit of a “false start.”

She started her video, made a mistake, and then got flustered, forgot what she wanted to say, and asked if she could just stop. She could have continued speaking just to practice what she wanted to say for the next time, but she didn’t. She wanted to quit.

The rest of us on the call didn’t want to let her go away discouraged. We encouraged her to just start over and re-record her video. And after that false start, she nailed it! Her presentation was excellent, and hopefully, her video will be posted on her website and/or YouTube soon.

There is no wagon

The second popped up in a fitness program with a Facebook community where the members come together to support one another in the program and in their fitness and life goals, inspire one another, and share their successes as well as their frustrations.

One of the members posted in the Facebook group that a number of factors in her life had caused her to “fall off the wagon” with her exercise routine and that she was disappointed because before those life events got in the way, she had been exercising regularly and feeling good about it.

Erin Stutland*, the creator of the exercise program and owner of the Facebook group, gave what I thought was an awesome response. She said, in part,

Annie-spratt-fyayRabRpls-unsplash-wagon

I am here to tell you something very important.

There is no wagon.

There is no wagon to fall off of.

And there is no wagon to get back on.

There is only life.

And you are living it, with grace and dignity. Every day.

Sometimes we do things one way. Sometimes we do things another way.

Sometimes— for a myriad of reasons, big and small— we [do] better than other times.

However, … we are reminded that we never need to do any[thing] perfectly.

We do the best we can.

With what we have.

Today.

This is your reminder that it’s all good.

There is no wagon. There is life. And you’re living it.

I thought her response was incredibly powerful, not just for the person who made the original post, but for everyone (so did Erin – she later shared it with her entire email list). It reminded me of the intro to many a guided meditation – when you notice your mind wandering, just bring your attention back to your breath and start again. It’s natural. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it “wrong.” The awareness that your mind has wandered is the key. Once you become aware, you can do something about it.

Lawyers tend to be perfectionists. But we’re all only human. Nobody does everything perfectly all of the time.

The Power of Community

One of the things that strikes me about both of these stories is the difference that having the support of the right community makes – even if it is a virtual community.

The video roundtable participants could have simply encouraged our other member to practice and try again next week. But I imagine her experience wouldn’t have been as positive, and she wouldn’t have felt as good about herself. And maybe the video next week wouldn’t have been as good as the one she ended up with. If she were doing this on her own, she probably would have just given up. But even though few (if any) of us on the call know one another in “real life,” the community support made all the difference.

Similarly, the response to the “fell off the wagon” post could have been much different. I’ve seen it before – this kind of discussion can devolve into loads of people jumping on the thread and talking about how they’ve “fallen off the wagon” too and beating themselves up over the fact that they haven’t done this or that, or they’ve gained weight or they don’t have time to go to the gym, etc. The difference with this response and this community was to re-frame the discussion.

Important Reminders

  • There is no wagon. There is only life.
  • Everyone makes mistakes.
  • Sometimes a “false start” leads to a better result than you would have had without it.
  • Support from the right community can make all the difference.
  • Re-frame the discussion. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t done in the past, focus on what you can do today.
  • There’s no need for judgment. Just start again, when you can, the best way you can.

What do you need a “do-over” for? Leave it in the comments. Then do the best you can today.

*If you’re interested in the exercise program and Facebook group, I can personally vouch for the Movement with Erin Stutland (and I have an aversion to organized “exercise.”) You can check it out here.