Mindset Over Measure.

Jen Xu
4 min readSep 6, 2020

Every day, there are people telling themselves that they will do things better, or at least differently the very next day. Especially on December 31st. There’s nothing wrong with having a great big plan for your life. I always say to shoot for the moon, go big or go home, all of those really cheesy things. But that decision to “do better” the next day, or the next time — that’s something we can’t take lightly. Now, I do go back and forth with how I approach these “life changes”. See below.

Sometimes I think, oh, I’m not the type of person who can dive headfirst into something, because then there’s too much pressure to be perfect immediately — but then I think, am I just making excuses? What if I do try and dive headfirst…and then I fail? Am I going to give up? If I have a list of 8 things and I fail the first, am I going to give up? I might want to, but I should not. If I want to grow, I am going to be uncomfortable.

Some days I have to tell myself I just have to do one hard thing. Today, that was opening my computer up to do some work I’ve been putting off this weekend. Then, that led me here. That will lead me to a healthy meal, a quick jog, and prepping to go to bed early for a run tomorrow morning. I meant to run yesterday…then today…but I failed. I’m not happy with myself. I mostly just didn’t go because the trail parking lots are always very busy on weekend mornings, but I don’t have that excuse tomorrow. I also have 2 days of failed attempts to get my butt out the door.

The reason I mentioned going “back and forth” is that life is not a straight line of only improvements. It’s got ups and downs, back-and-forths, rollercoasters, moon landings, crashes back to Earth, etc. That got a liiiiittle bit too metaphorical there but you will have days where you’re ready to attack everything in life, and that’s awesome. And you will have days where you’re paralyzed by potential decisions you can make, where nothing sounds fun or appetizing and you do everything to escape the thoughts in your head except actually confronting them (if it sounds like I’m a bit too familiar with this, well, you’re right! I even have a tattoo for this). But on those tougher days when you feel scared, lost, confused —

See, when you make that decision to do better, you have to understand that it’s not just your actions that matter (aka the “measures”), but also your mindset (might we say… “mindset matters”?). By telling yourself that you’re “not the kind of person who can dive headfirst into things” — you limit yourself. I mean, maybe you’ve failed before (I have). But 1, there’s no harm in trying again (and perhaps differently). And 2, you may fail in some things, and succeed in others…and each attempt at the same thing could give you a different result. Don’t limit yourself. And don’t be hard on yourself.

If you give 100% of your effort, but fail, then it just wasn’t your day. At least you can go to bed knowing that you gave it your all. But if you only give 50% of your effort and you fail, then you know that it’s all on you. You cannot get frustrated at the results you don’t get by the work you didn’t do.

Just in case you didn’t read that clearly (and no, I will not say “say it louder for the people in the back!”, because it is the most overused phrase in the history of Twitter):

You cannot get frustrated at the results you don’t get by the work you didn’t do.

I wrestled around with the title for a bit. But it’s taken me awhile to realize that people need to take more responsibility for their actions…or lack thereof, if applicable. It’s actually okay to get upset with yourself for not doing everything you can in a situation. What you shouldn’t do is get angry at yourself after you try every single thing and it still fails — save that for the Universe! I mean, you might still get upset because human nature, but at least you know what you’re “supposed” to do, so let’s focus on that first part. We need to be more honest with ourselves about how a situation unfolds and is resolved. That’s how we come to the truth of “how did we do?”

I mean, yes, some accomplishments need to be measured. Workplace productivity, words per minute, etc. But a lot of accomplishments like grades in school where you are the one studying (ignore the curves and such), or mile time where you are the one doing the work — it takes hard work, repetition, practice, discipline; and a mindset geared to do all these things and accept discomfort, truth and responsibility. If we consider mindset over measure more often than we have been…the “measures” ought to improve, even if it’s in the long run. But it’ll be worth the renewed outlook on life and resilience you’ll gain.



Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.