Have you ever set a goal, worked as hard as you could to achieve it… only to fail?
It’s happened to all of us… and it’ll inevitably happen again. So we need to learn how to handle it.
When we fail to achieve a goal, most of us react in one of the following 3 ways.
- We give up altogether because the prospect of trying and failing again is too painful.
- We choose not to set goals again (because then we can’t fail right?).
- We start setting smaller and smaller goals that don’t require us to stretch
None of these responses is going to inspire you to perform at your best and achieve what you truly want from your life or career.
However, what if I told there is no such thing as not achieving your goal.
Let me repeat that: There is no such thing as NOT achieving your goal. You just need to rewire your brain to be able to see that.
This concept was first introduced to me by renowned psychologist Martin Seligman in his ground breaking book, “Learned Optimism”. In fact Seligman, in one of his studies, proved that if sales people could understand how to rewire their brain, they increased their sales results by an average of 37%.
That made me sit up and take notice.
You see, I used to really struggle with setting goals because I hated the fact that I could fail… and regularly would fail. I tried to lose weight…and failed! I tried to increase my income… and failed. I tried to get a date… and failed.
The constant string of failures eventually got too much for me and I tried to avoid setting goals altogether. After all, I couldn’t see the point since it felt like I was just setting myself up for failure!
That was until I too understood that there is no such thing as not achieving your goal.
Since then I have set (and achieved) bigger and bigger goals.
For instance, I went from nearly being fired in my last sales role (which would have been the 3rd job in a row I got fired from) to breaking my company’s sales record, something that was once considered impossible in the organisation. I went from being the biggest I’d ever been to now being the fittest I’ve been in years! I went from struggling to earn an income to now earning more than I ever have.
And the best part is I’m only getting better as I continue to implement this process. So if you’re ready to rewire your brain to understand that there is no such thing as failing to achieve your goal, then let’s dive into my 5 step process.
Step 1: When you fail to achieve a goal, stop and make a note of everything you did actually achieve.
Maybe you learned more about the industry you’re trying to break into. Maybe you did lose some weight but just not as much as you wanted to. Maybe you got a few dates but you just have not yet found the relationship you’re looking for. Really go to town on this and make sure you write down everything you achieved. No achievement is too small! You’ll immediately start to feel better when you do this.
Step 2: Go through everything you achieved and see which one really lights you up inside.
A couple of years ago, I failed to reach a sales target I’d set for myself. However, when I went through everything I actually achieved, what I found I was most proud about was that I reached a particular amount of money in my bank account. That was my ACTUAL goal and the moment I achieved it, I stopped pursuing the sales goal with any real vigour. After all, I’d already achieved what I wanted to so my spirit just checked out, waiting to set a new goal. Once I realised this, I started laughing! I had nothing to feel bad about. I had achieved what I really wanted and now I was ready to set a new sales goal with a new sense of accomplishment.
Step 3: Look at what you learned.
When I first set out to be a professional speaker, I thought I could do it in 6 months. As I shared in my recent post “How to Defeat the 7 Obstacles to Persistence”, 6 months came and went and and I hadn’t even scored my first gig. It wasn’t that something was wrong with me. I just had ABSOLUTELY no idea what was involved. The deadline was unrealistic.
However, it was in setting the deadline that I got off my butt and did something – and in the process learned more than if I’d done nothing.
Just because you don’t achieve the goal in the time frame you set does not mean you won’t achieve the goal eventually.
I’d learned a lot about the industry and what it would take for me to break into it. I was now more educated and could make smarter decisions. So I used the information I now had to reset the timeline and then I got back to work!
Step 4: Review your reasons for going after the goal in the first place.
Are they still valid? If so, then just reset the goal with a new timeline, as I did with my speaking career. If not, that means you’ve grown and now it’s time to set a new goal, which is more in line with the person you have now become.
Step 5: Be grateful for your so called failed goal.
Once you’ve acknowledged what you achieved and what you’ve learned, be grateful that you set your goal, even though you didn’t reach it. It was because you went after that goal that you ended up achieving what you did, learning what you did and becoming the person you now are. You wouldn’t have done so otherwise.
So there you go! A simple 5 step process to go through every time you fail to hit a goal… and when you do, you’ll realise there is no such thing as a failed goal… only a goal that was either not in line with what you really wanted or a goal that will take longer to achieve than you first thought (or hoped!).
So try this process next time you fail to hit a goal and I guarantee you won’t have any hesitation in setting and achieving your biggest goals!
To your success,
PS: Let me know what you thought about this 5 step process in the comments field below. Do you think it will make a difference to you?