Sometimes you don’t achieve your goals.
Life may get in the way. You may get busy. Maybe you have a hard time staying motivated.
Whatever the reason, you don’t make it.
Or maybe you move toward them, but not as fast as you wanted.
You may be putting all your effort into it, and nothing seems to happen.
Maybe time has passed and you’ve realized you’ve made nothing happen. Maybe you just forgot.
Whatever the reason, nothing good comes from beat yourself up about it.
Instead, learn from it and do better.
In this article, we will cover 7 steps you should take when you fail to achieve your goals.
Step 1: Get away from the situation and clear your mind
Sometimes to see the situation clearly, you need to step back, clear your mind, and take another look.
Depending on the situation, it may mean taking a couple days off and rest. Giving your mind (and body) a break can help you come back and examine the situation in a new light.
Or maybe you just need to get away from the situation and think. If you have a goal that involves the computer, and you are constantly on the computer, sitting blankly in front of the computer is not going to help.
Get away. Take a walk. Go find a quiet corner in your local library.
If the situation has something to do with the chaos at home, getting away from it to think and sort through it can help.
Step 2. Figure out what went wrong
When you are in a spot where you can think and process, examine the situation.
- What happened?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- Is this a goal you still want to pursue?
- What changes do you need to make? What will you/could you/should you do differently?
- Is there someone who can help you with your goal?
Here are some questions to ask to help find the problem.
- Is it a goal that you are passionate about, or were you doing it only because someone else wanted you to?
- Was your timeline unreasonable?
- What circumstances got in the way?
- Did you make it part of your daily routine?
- Are you/were you trying to do too many goals at one time?
- Is the goal challenging enough for you?
- Are there bad habits that are keeping you from your goals?
- Is there something you need to learn in order to be able to accomplish your goal?
- Did you set up any kind of accountability?
- Is your goal written with specifics and is it measurable?
None of these lists of questions are exhaustive, but they are a sample starting point for you to use to examine and see why your goal went wrong.
If you are having a hard time figuring out what went wrong with the goal, enlisting help may be useful. Sometimes people outside the situation can see more clearly than us who are stuck in it.
Now, don’t go to your unsuccessful friends who quit, blame, and complain.
Go to other people who’ve succeeded in what you are trying to do. Chances are they’ve failed in similar areas before and can help give you guidance in what went wrong and what you can do next.
They may also be willing to be a guide to you or provide accountability for you.
3. Take responsibility for the results
Whatever the situation or cause is, take responsibility for it.
Don’t play the victim or blame game. If you do, you will never learn, never grow, never get better, and the chances of you completing your goal are greatly reduced.
You cannot always change all the circumstances that happened, but you can always control your responses to it. You can control what you will do.
Take responsibility for the results of the goal, for its failure, and for what happened. Take responsibility for what you did or didn’t do.
Once you take responsibility for it, then you can do something to change it.
4. Learn from the failure
Yes, maybe you didn’t reach your goal. Yes, you’ve failed.
Guess what? Everyone does that. Everyone fails.
It’s what you do with the failure that matters. Instead of beating yourself up, learn from it.
Look at the situation. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? What could be done better? What knowledge can you glean from this situation?
If you do that, then it wasn’t a failure – it was a chance to learn and do better.
5. Let go of the failure
Once you’ve examined the failure, figured out what went wrong, and learned from it, let it go. Don’t hold on to it.
Holding on to it does you no good. You can’t move forward when you keep looking in the past.
If you are walking in the woods and trip over a root, if all you do is keep looking back at that root, you are going to fall a lot more (and probably harder).
Forgive yourself for the failure and let it go (feel free to sing the song).
6. Decide where to go from here
Okay, so you cleared your mind, examined the situation and figured out what went wrong, you took responsibility for the failure, learned from it, and let go of the failure. What next?
You decide which way to go.
Depending on what you learned about the problem, you will make different decisions. As Michael Hyatt in Your Best Year Ever says, you can:
- Recommit to the goal
- Revise it
- Remove and replace it
Recommit to the goal
You realize that you are still passionate about the goal and want to make it happen. Maybe a life circumstance or a limiting belief or a lack of skill was keeping you from your goal.
You decide you are going to take the lessons you learned and recommit to the same goal and accomplish it.
Revise the goal
Maybe the goal is still good, and you are still passionate about it, but you’ve learned a lot and need to tweak it.
It’s your goal. If you need to change the deadline or the target, do it. If you need to make it more challenging or more realistic, do that as well.
Take what you learned, revise it, and take action.
Remove and replace
Maybe you realized that you really aren’t passionate about the goal, or the goal is a good goal, but is for a different season in life.
In that case, remove it and replace it with another that you are passionate about.
There’s no need to keep trying to chase something that’s not important to you – you likely will never make the time to do it.
Take some time
Or, you may need to take some time to work through your goals and where you are at. Maybe you’ve gone through some stressful and hard times, and you need to take time to regroup and rethink everything.
That is okay, too.
7. Take action immediately
Once you’ve figured your next step, take action immediately. Get the momentum going.
Get sweet inertia on your side.
Don’t wait. Don’t over analyze. Do something toward what you decide immediately.
- If you decided to recommit: take the next step toward your goal now.
- If you decided to revise: revise it, fix it, then take action now.
- If you decided to remove and replace: replace it, then take action immediately.
- If you need to take time to rethink everything: make the time and do it.
Remember the law of diminishing intent – the longer you wait to take action, the less likely you will take action.
Make the decision, and take action now.
Failing to achieve your goals does not mean you’ve completely failed your goal – unless you decide it’s time for it to go. Failure is just a stepping stone toward success.
When you fail:
- Get away and clear your mind
- Examine what went wrong
- Take responsibility for the results
- Learn from the failure
- Let go of the failure
- Decide where to go from there
- Then take action immediately