How do you deal with the failure of not achieving a goal?
What do you do when you realize that your goals need to change?
Did you NOT achieve your goal and are you feeling like a failure? Wondering what to do when your goals change? Here are the 8 stages you go through when you realize your goals need to change. #mindfulness #success #goalsetting Click To Tweet
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately… as the sting of not achieving a goal is fresh in my mind. First, you feel gutted, like a part of your soul is drifting away from you. This dream, this beautiful place you’re trying to reach remains out of grasp. And you feel locked out in the cold.
Then you wonder, where did things go wrong? How did I get here? Why did I let this happen to me?
8 Steps to Accepting When Your Goals Change
There are many times in our lives where our goals can change or adapt due to unforeseen circumstances, outside factors, or even our passions and hobbies can ebb and flow. However, when you’ve had a particular goal in mind for years it can be hard to accept that change.
If you had asked me two years ago where I would be today I would have said Los Angeles, working on my dream to be a television writer. There would have been no pause for reflection or doubt in my voice. That is exactly what my husband and I attempted in February of this year. We picked up our lives, careers, and our English Bulldog and moved to Los Angeles from Kansas City. Once there we were excited about the future and the possibilities that laid in front of us.
However, things do not always go as you plan.
We ended up being a one income household in one of the most expensive cities in the country. It wasn’t long before we started to realize that we hadn’t planned as well as we thought. I felt confident in my research and planning that any surprises that did come our way we would be prepared. That is when I first started to realize that my goals would have to adjust.
Here are the eight stages you go through when you realize that you need to change your goals. Like most things in life that might be difficult, this starts with acceptance.
When you have the same goals for years it is easy to give into the stubbornness, to dig in your heels and say they’re never going to change. In our first few months in a brand new city, our refrigerator broke, our computer crashed, our car broke down, and we owed more money on our taxes than we ever had in the past. It felt like all the planning I had done, all of the money we had saved meant nothing at this point.
My husband and I began discussing moving back to Kansas City because at least there we would have friends and family to help us through this difficult time. I had to accept that my goals were changing and shift my focus on the short term rather than the long term.
#2. Adjust Your Focus
Anyone who has an intense concentration on their goals can tell you that at times they fall prey to tunnel vision. Your goals can cloud your decision making so that the only thing you take into consideration is how your choice will impact you achieving those goals. I had to clear my vision and refocus my attention on other ways to accomplish my dreams besides living in California.
It is important to be open to accomplishing those goals in different ways than you first thought possible.
- Maybe your first painting doesn’t sell online, but at an art show that you weren’t even going to attend.
- Maybe your first viral blog post is the one that you spent the least amount of time on.
- Maybe you fail out of school only to land your dream job years later without the degree you thought you needed.
However, if you continue to have tunnel vision and aren’t willing accept other avenues of success you might miss your chance at the success you always wanted. The truth is sometimes your dreams change and sometimes how you arrive at them surprises you.
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#3. It’s OK to Retreat
When you have been planning and dreaming for a single goal as long as I had been it was devastating to think that I was going to experience a hefty setback.
We’ve been taught that standing still is really taking three steps backward, so the idea of purposefully taking a step back was terrifying to me. However, for the sake of our family, we needed to move back to Kansas City and regroup.
#4. Shake off the Shame
Unfortunately, we live in a society that focuses intently on our successes. Look at anyone’s Instagram or Facebook where they focus on touting their accomplishments and hiding their failures. However, you must remember that in the real world people have setbacks all the time.
Shake it off, get up and change your direction, this isn’t the end.
There are famous accounts of people succeeding after failing. Bill Gates’ first company crumbled, Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity, Steve Jobs was booted from his own company, etc. There’s no reason to feel shame when admitting that your attempt missed the mark.
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#5. Give Yourself Time to Regroup
When we first made the decision to move back to Kansas City I cried for about three days straight. It wasn’t because I loved California that much, but because I felt like I had failed not only myself but my friends and family. I thought they would be disappointed in me, or that I would hear the inevitable, “I told you so.”
Give yourself a few days to regroup – meaning don’t think about the new goals, don’t dwell on the old ones you didn’t accomplish, simply give yourself time to breathe. When you spend so much of your life planning for something that doesn’t go the way that you projected it can feel like a friend of yours just died. It becomes a part of who you are, what you talk about, think about, and plan your life around.
When you have to suddenly move on in your life without that constant nag in the back of your head it can feel like a part of yourself has died. You need a mourning period. Take the time to let your mind adapt to not having those goals always at the back of your mind.
#6. Define Your New Goals
The first thing I had to do was find out if my ultimate goal, becoming a Television Writer was what I still was going to set out to do. Take time to reflect, and determine which should actually change: your goals or just the way you go about achieving those goals.
I figured out that really my ultimate goal was that I wanted to have a career as a writer. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me if what I write is on Television, online, or in a book. As long as I’m writing and building a career and portfolio from my writings, I’m a happy happy girl.
#7. Create a New To-Do List
Once I discovered that it no longer mattered to me what type of writing I was doing it opened me up to a whole new set of opportunities. Except now the problem was that my vision was too wide. I needed to focus down what I actually needed to do next to set me on the right path to my goals.
For example, I’ve had a novel that I have been working on, or ignoring (depending on how you look at it), for the last two years. The first thing I did was give myself a reasonable date to complete the first rough draft.
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The last thing that I looked at was how I could continue to write scripts and hone my storytelling ability while living in Kansas City. I did research about the different theaters, their festivals and different ways to become an established playwright.
Of course, there are many more steps to accomplish before achieving even one of these separate goals. In the meantime, I have my to-do list on my phone and posted in my home so that I can be reminded daily of what I am working so hard to achieve now.
Are you having trouble accepting the fact that your goals need to change? I know it's hard, but here are 8 steps to moving on. #goalsetting #goalsClick To Tweet
#8. Get to Work
At this point, it is time to stop dwelling on what could have been and focus instead on what will be. It is time to stop thinking about how you failed and concentrate on how you will succeed. Start by crossing off realistic goals from your to-do list:
- Create a new piece of artwork
- Write three blog posts
- Gain 50 new followers
Whatever those small goals might be it’s time to set your sights on them and celebrate when you are able to cross one off. It’s the small victories that keep us propelling forward. If you never allow yourself to pat yourself on the back after accomplishing even a small goal, then it will forever feel like you’re failing.
However, don’t be afraid to share with others when you fail or misstep. We learn from each other’s goal setting mistakes, and sometimes it takes a community to remind you that stumbling is never the end, it’s just a part of the process and adventure.
Since moving back to Kansas City I am still unboxing our belongings and trying to get back into a routine. There are moments where it almost feels like the last seven months never happened, but I know that’s not true, or else I wouldn’t be as excited about the future as I am now. Every person that I have seen has told me how happy they are to have us home, and I couldn’t agree with them more.
When you fail to reach your goals you go through all the stages of grief, to finally (hopefully not too long) at acceptance.
Changing goals, shifting prioritizes and even new dreams is a natural part of the process.
That’s just how it is! Rarely if ever does someone achieve their original goal as they conceived it?
Life always has other plans, your goals will change over time and that can be a good thing.
Do you need to change your goals?
More About Guest Contributor
My husband and I recently moved across the country from Kansas City to Los Angeles in the pursuit of those starry lights, more specifically television. I’ve always wanted to be a television writer, but now that we are here it doesn’t seem as important as I miss my family and friends. So each day is about deciding where we are headed and if this is the right place for us.