We’ve all been there. You set some goals with the best intentions, only to realize later that you didn’t follow through. Maybe you were really close, or maybe you forgot within a few days. Either way, there’s always that disappointment that comes with not meeting your expectations. Here’s how to move forward after failing your goals.
It might be easier to just forget about the failure and try to move on as soon as possible. However, reflecting on your goals, regardless of the outcome, is an essential part of personal development. You’ll be able to see what you did well and what you can improve for next time.
Side note: Since the launch of Plants and Pondering, I’ve been sharing monthly updates on my personal goals along with tips and strategies for setting your own goals. This is the last monthly goal update that I plan to do. It was a great routine while I was starting my blog in 2020, but now it’s time for a change. I’ll be switching to quarterly updates in 2021 to make space for a new monthly series that I think you’re going to love!
Now let’s get into the tips for taking your failed goals and making them a learning experience.
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How to move on after failing your goals
There are a few steps that will help move forward after not meeting your goals. For the sake of consistency, I’ll just assume there’s one goal that you’ve failed, but it can easily be applied for multiple goals. I’ve arranged the tips in an order that makes sense to me, but feel free to go through them in any order that works for you!
Accept that you didn’t meet your goal – gracefully.
You can’t change the past, and it’s probably not worth beating yourself up over whatever you didn’t do. So don’t.
Acknowledge that you didn’t meet your goal. Say it out loud if you have to. Denying this fact won’t make it any easier to move on or get anything else done.
Give yourself time to process if needed.
If you’re still upset about the thing that failed, don’t immediately jump into the next big project. It’s not productive to go in with a bad attitude or a mentality that is still so focused on that previous failure.
It’s also totally possible to get burnt out if you’re continually setting a bunch of aggressive goals! We can’t give everything 110% effort all the time.
You may find that you’ll be even more productive and motivated if you take a few weeks or a month off of goal setting before you get back into it.
Reflect on why you failed…
There are lots of possible reasons why you may not have met your goal. Other commitments, overly ambitious goals, unrealistic time frames, poor planning, and loss of motivation are just a few of the issues that might have occurred.
These aren’t excuses. They’re legitimate reasons why you weren’t able to accomplish what you wanted to do. It’s important to reflect on what happened so you can recognize what went wrong or held you back.
When you know what went wrong, it’s easier to prevent it from happening again.
… but don’t dwell on it too much.
The fact that you even set the original goal in the first place is a good thing. You had the intention and the desire to improve something in your life.
Failures happen to everyone. The real strength lies in getting back up and trying again. There’s a healthy balance between analyzing why something went wrong and overanalyzing to the point that you make yourself feel even worse.
Reevaluate the goal.
Is this goal even something that you still want to do? If not, let it go! You might have realized that you were focused on the wrong thing.
If you do still want to complete this goal, maybe there’s some aspect of it that could change to make it work better for you. Try giving yourself more time. Or break a big goal into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Set new goals.
Use what you’ve learned about previous failures to make the necessary adjustment for your new goals. This applies whether you’re continuing with your old goals or trying something different.
Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that your new goal will succeed, but it shows that you’re learning. It may be an iterative process to keep setting goals and reflecting until you understand what works best for you.
Have a plan for staying on track.
Once you know what you want to do, you have to figure out how you want to do it. Having a plan is crucial for not forgetting about the goal, breaking it up appropriately over time, and keeping track of your progress.
If you need some inspiration in this area, I have a post with 7 strategies for staying on track with your goals. It will help you identify and implement a system that will help you achieve your goals with less stress.
Get an accountability partner.
Especially if you didn’t have one last time and you think it would be beneficial. Some people, like myself, are internally motivated. We’re able to keep ourselves going. Other people work best when someone else is checking in to see how they’re doing.
If that’s you, you may have more success by including a friend in setting your next goals. Decide how often to check-in, and listen to their progress on their goals if they want to share.
Even though the previous goal didn’t go so well, you have to believe that it will work out this time. Because we’ve learned, made improvements, and we’re working toward the right things!
When you’re setting the right goals, you should be excited to get started. Even if that means there’s a lot of hard work ahead. You know that when you succeed, you’ll be one step closer to where you want to be.
Get started on your new goal!
With the help of your new insights and a positive attitude. Use that as momentum to help you with a strong start.
The hardest part is often getting started, especially after a not-so-great attempt. But I hope that with these tips, you’re ready to dive back in!
November 2020 Goal Reflections
Goal #1: Finish two books
I actually managed to finish three books this month. The first one I completed at the beginning of the month, and the other two were audiobooks, which I listen to while doing chores and getting ready. I’ve had very little reading time lately because I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for my blog writing (Surprise! I’ll talk more about that soon). Usually, my writing and reading time is pretty balanced, but I’ve been focusing on writing way more this month because of this.
Anyway, back to the books. The physical book that I finished was Crave by Tracy Wolff. I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Marketed as being similar to Twilight, I found that Crave was a lot better. Less pining and brooding and more action. Definitely a cozy read for the colder months!
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis was the first audiobook. It was an interesting conclusion to the Chronicles of Narnia series. There were some parts I liked and some that I certainly disagreed with, but I won’t spoil it for you just in case you’re interested.
The final book of the month was That Guy by Kim Jones. This is a romantic comedy, heavy on the romance, and I’m definitely not going to discuss it in any detail, lol. I had pretty low expectations going into it since I downloaded it on a whim as part of a free audiobook deal. It was a little ridiculous, but it did make me laugh out loud a few times, so I can’t complain.
Goal #2: Brainstorm next year’s content
The goal here was to prepare next year’s blog content as much as possible. This meant brainstorming post ideas, researching, writing outlines, and creating a rough editorial calendar.
I have my list of post ideas and a few outlines, but I didn’t complete nearly as much as I was hoping to. There’s a simple explanation for this, and one that is often to blame: my job got really busy. In the middle of the month, there was a lot of difficult work to do, and it didn’t leave me with any brainpower left for blogging. Obviously, I could have just kept working anyway, but that’s where the self-care aspect comes in. I knew that I had to devote some time to care for myself if I wanted to be able to do anything else successfully.
I came up with some ideas for new posts during that time, but I just jotted them down to keep for later. My full-time job comes first, of course, but it would have been nice to be able to fully commit to my content planning. I still want to see how much I could get done with a month dedicated to planning.
Goal #3: Prioritize self-care activities
My intention with this goal boiled down to practicing self-care at least once per day, no matter what the activity was. I didn’t formally track this, but I’d say that I did accomplish it. I’m usually good about making time for self-care, even when I’ve had a super busy day because I know how important it is for me.
There wasn’t anything new or revolutionary here. I stuck with my tried and true favorite things. This meant plenty of cross stitching, YouTube video watching, and spending time with my guinea pigs – Timmy and Tommy.
Self-care time is so necessary, especially around the holidays when we’re all extra busy. Well, maybe we’re a little less busy this year or at least spending more time at home. But caring for ourselves should still be a priority. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my list of ideas for the perfect self-care day.
December 2020 Goals
Goal #1: Finish two books
I always aim for two books, but hopefully, I’ll be able to do more than that. With some time off work at the end of the month, I’ll have some more downtime to read and relax.
One book that I hope to get through is Crush by Tracy Wolff, the sequel to Crave. Once I get into it, I know that I’ll have a hard time putting it down. A series often compared to Twilight, the Crave books follow Grace, a teenage girl who is sent to a boarding school in Alaska after her parents’ death. She meets Jaxon, an emotionally hardened vampire, and realizes that things at this school aren’t quite what they seem to be.
I’ve actually slowed down on buying books the past few months because I ran out of space on my little TBR shelf. Still, my birthday is this month, so I’ll probably treat myself to some new books anyway. Plus, the best way to start the new year is with a stack of new books, right?
Goal #2: Keep planning next year’s blog content
I want to keep the planning train rolling! The goal is to have a good list of fleshed-out post ideas. Probably not enough for the whole year but enough to get me started, with some space for other inspiration that may strike throughout the year.
The next step is to take my long list of ideas and start scheduling and planning them out. I want to figure out an order that makes sense and spreads out the different topics that I post about. This means not posting three articles about plants in a row or something like that.
I also plan to keep researching and outlining future posts. Ideally, I’ll have at least a little cushion for weeks when I’m extra busy with work or anything else that comes up. (I’ll also be moving later next year, so I want to be able to take a week off blogging then!) I’ve had a non-existent backlog for most of this year. When I didn’t have time, there was just no post that week, which sucked! Consistent posting is a huge goal that I have for 2021.
Goal #3: Enjoy the holidays
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I know that the holidays will look very different this year, but that’s not going to stop me from getting into the spirit of it.
Maybe it’s superficial of me, but I want to enjoy the aesthetics of it all. The way my apartment is decorated, the lights that people put on their houses, the cozy sweaters, and blankets. Winter is my favorite season, and I’m going to Soak. It. In.
If we’re being honest, it’s been a rough year for all of us. I know that my mental health was not great most of the time, and a lack of breaks has made it worse. For everyone’s sake, we deserve to rest and relax as much as possible, so we are better able to stay healthy and handle life’s challenges.
Goal #4: Get back into yoga
Above all, this goal is for my back. All I do is sit at my desk, and my back is sore all the time. I’ve found that consistently practicing yoga is one of the best ways to help this, on top of its various other benefits.
I also want to get ready for Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day challenge coming in January. I’ve attempted them the past few years, and I’ve been successful before, but I didn’t make it to the end in 2020. In case you’ve never done it, you’ll probably be SO SORE if you try to go from no yoga to doing yoga every day. I don’t particularly want to deal with that, so I intend to use December as a way to ramp up and get my muscles used to it again.
So there are my goal updates for November and December, as well as my best tips for moving forward after failing a goal! I hope that you’re inspired to keep reaching for those accomplishments.
Setbacks don’t have to stop you from achieving great things, and they can actually be an excellent learning opportunity.
What’s a goal that you’ve failed to complete? Or a new goal that you’re excited to work on? Let me know by leaving a comment!
Related posts you might like:
The importance of taking a break – to increase productivity and avoid burnout.
7 strategies for keeping track of your goals – because habits and systems are the keys to achieving your goals.
Some thoughts from an introverted HSP in lockdown – if you want to know how my year has been going.