Health + wellbeing

Why bad days can be important to your success

- July 9, 2021 3 MIN READ
woman standing in the rain under rainbow umbrella

Did you realise that one of the key ingredients to living a successful life is having more bad days? I know it sounds crazy but when I learnt this one idea, it changed my whole life, writes Jaemin Frazer, life coach and host of The Insecurity Project.

As a life coach, people often imagine that I am super consistent and always in a great state. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Consistency is massively overrated.
I have times where I am completely unproductive, unmotivated and in a bad mood. I frequently waste time, stuff around, and watch rubbish TV. The thing is, I honestly don’t judge myself in these moments. They are never personal, nor do they define who I am.

It turns out that success is not about being on track 100 per cent of the time. In fact, the real aim of peak performance is to only be at your best when it matters most. This means far more bad days than good ones.

Here are three steps to integrate more bad days into your life while avoiding the traps:

1. Enjoy your bad days

When you enjoy your bad days without judgment, you take the pressure off to have to get it right all the time. The moment you don’t have to be right means you can finally discover where you are wrong! The great thing about being wrong is that it opens your eyes to alternative paths. Almost all of our meaningful change and improvement comes from being wrong.

Sure, it feels bad when it’s happening, but if you welcome more bad days then you also open up a massive opportunity for growth. The feedback you get when things are not working is often more important than what you see when it is working. In fact, the bad days are often the ones that teach us the most!

2. Carry a pair of scissors

I’ve run eight marathons competitively and interestingly the best advice I was ever given was to carry a pair of scissors while running. If you attach your performance to someone else, you get caught up in their race and end up going out too fast or slow. Therefore, it is super useful to visualise cutting the imaginary cord between the runners in front or behind you so that you run your own race.

The same is true in life. There are so many cords to cut so that you don’t get caught up running someone else’s race.

Specifically, the key cord to cut here is the one that links identity to performance. If you are your performance, you can’t afford to ever have a bad day.

There are many people who give themselves zero permission to have bad days because for them positivity is king, performance is everything, consistency is the ultimate goal. Identity becomes enmeshed in being this kind of person, so to be seen having a bad day must mean they are a bad person.

Doing the personal development work to overcome all insecurity allows you to be solid in who you are separate from what you do with nothing to prove or defend.

3. Manage your energy not your time

We’ve all seen those horrible ‘motivational’ graphics of how much of our lives we waste spending time eating, sleeping, watching TV and going to the toilet. The time management junkies would assert that it is in focussing acutely on how many seconds we have been given in every day and using each second to full effect that we really succeed in life.

I completely disagree. Focusing on how little time you’ve got or how you’ve wasted it in the past only produces fear and shame and weakens us for the future.

If your state of mind is not great you can have all the time in the world but no access to the magic inside, you to make the most of that time. That time is useless. Energy is far more useful than time could ever be.

Sport stars have an off-season, pre-season, main season and finals that all require different energy levels from them. Even then they are only playing for 90 minutes once a week. What are they doing for the rest of the time? Who really cares! They are paid the big bucks to be at their best when it matters most. It turns out that if you looked at those key minutes as a percentage of the minutes in a year, it would be far less than 1 per cent of their time.

They are not expected to be at their best all the time and neither are you. In fact, trying to be at your best when you don’t need to be is a sure recipe for losing the game. No point peaking in the off-season!

It turns out that having bad days, feeling low, frustrated, disappointed and unmotivated is a vital part of the cycle of a healthy lifestyle. Without downs, there are no ups either.