What Happens When We Don't Make It?
By Michael Angier
We all like to read about successes. We’re encouraged by the achievement of others and inspired to hear about how they overcame difficult odds. But what happens when things don't go as planned? What happens when we just don't make it?
Successful people don’t reach all their goals. In fact, they miss more than they make.
The fear of missing the mark is one of the reasons we don't set some goals in the first place. We don't want to fall short and we don't want anyone to know we didn't make it. We don’t want to FAIL.
I’d like to share some thoughts about a goal I didn't reach. My goal at the beginning of the year was to lose 32 pounds by May 21st. I lost only 14.
There are many other goals over the past few months that WERE met--and even exceeded--but this one was one of the most important. It was also one over which I had the greatest control. It is me and me alone who determines what goes into my mouth and how often and how much I exercise.
It was a doable and believable goal. I had a target date. I had a workable plan and it was a worthy goal. So what happened? There were a number of factors that contributed to coming up short, and I’m still evaluating them.
The important thing to realize, however, is that I didn’t actually fail. What happened was I missed my target date. Am I discouraged? A little. Am I disappointed? Yes. But I can’t change what is. I have to survey the results, the LACK of results and look closely at my plan and how I'll improve upon it.
Am I still committed to it? Yes, indeed. Am I resetting a target date? You bet. And that’s what’s important--not giving up. Until I realized that I had missed the target date instead of failed in the process of achieving my goal, I WAS discouraged. I was focusing on failure instead of the progress I’d made.
The truth is, I’m stronger and healthier now than I was in January. Losing 14 pounds isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it’s better than being where I was--or worse--GAINING weight.
If I can burn 14 pounds of fat in 18 weeks, I can do at least as well over the next 18 weeks--probably better. Beating myself up for not reaching my goal has no payoff. It can’t help. I get letters all the time from people disheartened because they're not making the progress they think they should. They’re discouraged because they didn’t succeed. The truth is, achieving big goals is rarely easy.
What IS easy is to focus on our shortfalls. It's easy to talk to ourselves in negative, counterproductive language: "I'll never make it." "I just can't get it right." "Why don't I ever win."
Perhaps we’re deceived by stories of "overnight" successes. We don’t see the setbacks and obstacles that were part of the success. But perseverance almost always wins out. I’m reminded that an oak tree is just a little nut that held its ground. If it were easy, we wouldn’t have the satisfaction that comes with the winning. If we didn’t have to change in order to reach the goal, we wouldn’t grow. The pain of discipline is only temporary. The glory of achievement lasts much longer.
I’m going to hang in there. I’m going to start over. And I’m going to do it. How about you? Do you let the fear of "failure" keep you from setting big goals? Will you keep on keeping on? What goal do you have that needs a recommitment? What will you overcome in order to achieve it? How are you willing to change?
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