Lessons From a Failed Sober October 2020

Last year I launched this blog from the insights I gained during Sober October 2019.

If you have not read that blog than click here https://calledtoworth.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/example-post/: I believe it is such a good intro to what I learned this year.

Discipline is the foundation and heart of most of what I write about:

Discipline to say no when we need to so that we can say yes to what we want to.

Discipline to prolong short term discomfort for lasting future comfort.

Discipline to go inwards and measure yourself with the same expectation we measure others.

Discipline to recognize our emotions, but still choose our actions and reactions.


However, this year the message is slightly different. Because guess what?!

I failed Sober October. I mostly said no. But not completely. There were two nights that I drank.

We had a heartbreaking loss in the family at the beginning of the month, and we absolutely drank with family.

I willingly and proudly made that choice, my family will always come before my personal ego.

Last year the insights came from succeeding at going a whole month without alcohol. This year the insights came from failing.

So with that in mind, let’s dive in.

We are all or nothing creatures. We either want to do something perfectly, or not at all.

Last year’s Sober October was actually fairly easy and empowering.

This year was still very empowering, but much harder.

Because I did have that weekend in there where we actively choose to put Sober October on hold, it made me super susceptible to want to cave in the rest of the month.

It was mentally hard to want to finish the month. Because what is the point?

And that is what happens in life, isn’t it?

We make one small mistake and throw the whole project away. We miss one day of working out and then stop working out the rest of the week. We splurge in the morning so then we overeat the rest of our meals.

For human beings, it is pretty bold of us to have such a strong commitment to perfection. Either we do it perfectly or there is no point.

We miss out on so many beautiful life experiences, forward steps, and progress when we throw in the towel after a mistake.

If you have made a mistake in life, in your career, in your fitness, or whatever goal you are chasing, I want to remind you there is a point to keep going. It just might not be what you think it is.

The purpose, the point, is the resilience and persistence you gain along the way, not in the completion of the goal itself.

Of course reaching a goal is an awesome feeling, we literally stayed up til midnight to celebrate finishing the month.

But the true point and investment you receive is the daily building of character. The daily testing of yourself and your principles.

Had I thrown in the towel in the beginning, I would have robbed myself of the insights I am now sharing with you.

The point is not that I completed Sober October, the point is that I kept going, despite failing in the beginning.

Life is full of failures, heartbreaks, hard things, tough days, and rough seasons. The purpose is not living life avoiding those days, but finding ways to get through them.

Developing our endurance, our resiliency, and our grit along the way is why we embark on the goals we do. It breaks my heart that most of the time we will let a small failure become a permanent road block.

No matter what, there is purpose to what you are doing. It has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with persistence. Keep going.

Walking in discipline is not a one and done choice. It is a daily choice. A daily re-commitment.

Your discipline is tested the most after you have dropped it. It is easy to keep a streak going, but it is another thing all-together to start over.

If a life of discipline was a one and done choice every body would be living lives completely different from what they are now.

But discipline is unfortunately a daily investment, yet we view it as a one time purchase. That is why when we miss a day we feel like we missed the whole boat. That we cannot get back up on the horse tomorrow, because it will be gone.

Let me tell you that it is not gone. If you missed your opportunity to walk in discipline today, tomorrow is a new day.

That horse is still there.

It is unrealistic to expect ridged perfection from the beginning and end to your goal. Instead have a plan of how you will jump back on the wagon.

In order to walk in discipline you need to walk in grace.

You read that right. Discipline and grace go hand in hand. Because we must choose our discipline every day, we must also learn to have grace for ourselves when we do not.

This is not to say we cannot be dissappointed, frustrated, or upset at our choices. Or that we brush off, make excuses for, and minimize poor choices or lapses in personal accountability.

Be accountable for all of your choices, but do not idolize them. Many times in order to cope with our mistakes we ignore them, justify them, or make excuses for them, which only causes us to make more of them.

If we dwell on our mistakes to the point of self-flagellation that will only make us more fearful of failing in the future.

When we are afraid of failure, we are less likely to try anything. There is no getting back up on the horse after falling, too much risk of future failure.

What grace does is this: I acknowledge what I did was a mistake, I am frustrated about it, here is what I am going to do to fix it.

So if you want to cultivate a long-term relationship with discipline, cultivate a long-term relationship with grace.

In summary my friends,

I love Sober October because every year I learn something new.

Last year I dove into self accountability, self responsibility, saying no to oneself and how discipline leads to freedom.

This year I learned that discipline is fueled by grace.

You are going to fail in life. You just will. I fail about 5 times before breakfast.

But if you have your eyes focused on the wrong part of the goal, usually the finish line, then you are missing the whole point.

Give yourself grace and keep going because the purpose is in the process. Giving up after a mistake will not only rob you of that finish line, but also of the growth, development, and wisdom you get along the way.

Because you are meant to go to some incredible places in this life. There are paths in the future that your feet are called to walk, do not let trivial failures stop you from the life you were created to live.


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