Filter Out Failure

  • Dad wisdom: Build failure filters
  • Focus: Reflexive actions
  • Fitness: Knees are easy
  • Bonus stuff

Build Failure Filters

How many times have you tried creating a new habit—from drinking more water to going to bed earlier—only to find that things fizzle out? Do you file that information under instance or identity?

The simple truth is that most habit experiments fail. Even well-designed ones. Don’t take it personally. You might be dealing with a fundamental motivation issue than anything else. It’s tricky because motivation can be spiked by anything from a podcast to a vague sense of obligation. However, you can’t expect motivation to permanently rev high. That’s the real issue.

You can troubleshoot things with a few questions—starting with, “Is this really important to me?” So many health habits are built with a general sense of, “I guess it would be good if I… “ Not a powerful statement. You can’t build a house on quicksand.

If the motivation is truly powerful, that’s another story—one about skills and framing. However, after you feel that motivation rising, a useful question to ask is: Do I really, deeply, in my bones care about this? This is perhaps the most essential filter.

This conversation is based on our most recent weekly call.
Want to join the conversation? Click here.

This newsletter is brought to you by Othership.

Get 15% off any pass or membership with the code BANG (one time purchase)

Try the breathwork app for free

Focus by finding reflexive actions

Here’s a question: what’s your posture like right now?

Here’s a follow-up: what did you do after the first question? A slight adjustment? Shoulders back? That kind of thing?

I’d be willing to bet that whatever you did happened quickly and without conscious decision-making. That is a fully operational habit. It kicked in when I offered you a prompt. So, let me suggest stacking a slow breath onto whatever that postural adjustment. See how that feels. If it feels good, you have the option to pause here and take another. You’re the boss, apple sauce.

There are places in your life where you are already responding to prompts—automatically and successfully. Even the supposedly negative responses—anger, frustration, boredom… are all fertile soil for new habits.

Knees are easy

If you’re dealing with knee pain, I have some good news: of all the joints in the body, knees are the most responsive to modifying or improving technique. Unless you’ve got some serious structural damage (you’ll know), the odds are high that you can train your legs pain-free.

The first place to begin is with shin position. Stand on one leg, with your knee slightly bent—over the mid-foot is a good default. Here, we’re going to imagine that we pour concrete down until your planted leg is encased up to the knee. If you can hold the position pain-free, you can explore—first through range, next through loading.

Book recommendation

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Often listed among the great books of our time, this account of life in the Nazi death camps clarified a fundamental driver for humans—beyond status and power: the drive toward meaning

Check out our (growing) book list

Submit your own recommendations here


“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

―Victor Frankl

Dad joke

How do you understand a ghost’s perspective?

You walk a mile in their ooze.

The Dad Strength Newsletter

30 Seconds of Dad Wisdom to take into your week and help you earn the mug that says World's Greatest Dad

Subscribe and receive:

  • How to Stay Pre-Loaded
  • A Partner's Guide to ADHD
  • Our list of recommended books