Guest Pep Talk (Martha Caldwell): NoExNo– Trying to NAIL it.

Nail biting

Even Kate freaking Middleton can’t kick the habit.

I hope all of you are navigating through November with a new-found confidence from meeting your goals. I wish this for you because I, Martha Caldwell, am 6 days into November and today I failed.  And it sucks.  I am confessing this to all of you because I am trying to not let this mistake break my own confidence and to convince myself that my goal can still be achieved.

How could I have failed so soon?  Let me back up and explain myself.  For No Excuses November, I decided to try and break my life-long habit of biting my nails.  Call me ambitious.  I’ve always been an anxious person and although the anxiety has manifested itself in many ways throughout my life, the one constant has been nail biting.  Before you get all judge-y, the way I know so many people do when they find out I bite my nails, let me just say that I already know it’s gross.  Let’s move on.  Before it even crossed my mind that NoExNo was coming, a friend of mine had a lunch and nail painting party. I went primarily for lunch, but decided to give painting my nails a chance.  I was really enjoying the results when Allison sent out the email about NoExNo the next day. That’s when I decided that I was going to give this a try, to submit this as my goal and head down the habit breaking highway.  My nails were already painted and I would even have a few days head start.  I was ready.

After sharing this goal with some people, I got a lot of advice on how to be successful: chew gum, keep your hands moisturized at all times and this gem from my brother– shock yourself with a 9-volt battery every time you’re about to do it.  I appreciated the advice, had high hopes, and went for it.  That first week was, in a nutshell, pretty flipping miserable. I spent the first few days (fine, it was a week) obsessively eating pita chips, sitting and staring at my hands for unacceptably long periods of time and going through packs of gum like it was my job. I wore gloves when I got home from work to keep myself from biting and generally felt and acted like a crazy person.

I started a new job three weeks ago and, like a lot of new jobs, the first couple of weeks were pretty slow and stress free.  Perfect scenario for me, Ms. Anxiety, to kick my most long-running anxious habit in the butt.  But like most things in life, not every scenario is perfect and there’s never ever going to be the “right time” to do something.  Enter conflict.  Five days ago, I was put in charge of a project by the Senior Vice President of my department (who, two days prior, I was told I never would work with directly) to fix a process I was barely just learning.  Caveat: I had to fix it immediately because our new Corporate CFO (my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss) wanted to review it, like yesterday. Hooray!  After learning this, I spent the next hour ripping off all of my pretty nail polish.  I painted them that night and ripped all of the nail polish off again the next day.  I still hadn’t bitten them, but I could tell this was quite a slippery slope.

This teetering on the edge went on for a few more days (painting and then demolishing) until today, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I bit off all of my nails.  Hours later, the project was reviewed and resolved and things started to simmer down.  Too bad the damage had already been done.

I confessed this to a friend, got a pep talk of my own, and decided that I did not want this to define my NoExNo experience.  I tried!  Things got stressful!  I couldn’t help it!  Breaking habits is hard!  I could tell myself any of those things, but those are excuses, and excuses during these 30 days are generally frowned upon.  No Excuses November does not mean that you aren’t going to fail.  Clearly, I have proven that that isn’t true.  If you miss a day, it’s not over.  If you did something you weren’t supposed to, it’s not over.  Using that mistake to give up on this month is an excuse.  We don’t like excuses.  To me, No Excuses November means that I am going to try for something, maybe suck at it, but try nonetheless.  It’s not pretty or easy and it sure doesn’t make me feel better.  But I will not make excuses.  So that being said, I am going to accept this fall and start again tomorrow.  I hope that if you veered off course too, that you start again with me.

To no excuses!

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