What If You Fail To Achieve Your Goals
What If You Fail To Achieve Your Goals?
A great deal has been said about the merits of setting goals. It’s not a conversation I’ve contributed greatly to, despite having written many personal development programs and books over the past 20 or more years.
You see, I’ve always felt goals are double-edged swords. Sure, it feels great if you achieve them, but what – heaven forfend – if you fail to achieve your goals …?
Why set yourself up for disappointment has always been my counter to the proponents of goal-setting.
Recently, I’ve seen an extra dimension to this whole debate, however. A dimension that, once you see it, frees you to set any goal – no matter how huge, regardless of how ridiculous.
The problem comes from caring about how you feel about achieving – or failing to achieve – the goal.
To show you what I mean, let’s take a step back so we can zoom in.
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What kind of feelings might you expect if you fail to achieve your goals?
How about “disappointment?” (I’ve already mentioned that one.)
I imagine there may also be, at times and in varying amounts, frustration, anger, self doubt, (“Can I really do it?”), maybe even a sprinkling of guilt.
There are then two questions to consider:
1. Are you setting yourself up to fail by setting goals that are too ambitious in the first place and…
2. What exactly IS a feeling?
It’s the answer to the second question that really holds the key, because you can set yourself any goal you please if you can be comfortable with whatever way it turns out. In other words, the goal becomes a direction for you to travel in, not a place you must arrive at or your life is somehow in pieces!
Our feelings are really nothing more than thoughts that we then choose to believe in as if they were true.
I’ll illustrate with a true story.
A Drive Across Europe With My Dad…
Years ago, my Dad and I shared a driving holiday through Europe. My father had carefully planned – and paid for – the itinerary, including several hotels he pre-booked so we were obliged to arrive at each of those destinations on the right dates. Every day involved driving a couple of hundred miles, and we shared the driving.
Now, this was long before GPS navigation systems. We were relying on maps of totally unfamiliar territory, road signs in foreign languages and to make life even trickier, we were driving on the “wrong” side of the road. (We’re English and drive on the left here.)
Inevitably, there came a day when we seemed to be lost and time was ticking by. My father’s blood pressure – along with his temper – began to rise to boiling point. Now, I think we both equally wanted to “achieve the goal” of arriving at the next hotel, but our view of the situation was different. I said to him, “If we don’t get there, we’ll simply get somewhere else and we’ll have a different adventure.”
In other words, I could see a time in the future when we’d look back on the trip and laugh about losing our way and share our amazement at however things did turn out.
(FYI – we did find our way to the hotel, so there is no “amazing adventure” story. But that’s not my point.)
You may find this article on “The 6 Step Process You Need To Use When You Fail To Achieve Your Goals” helpful too. (Particularly step 3, in my opinion.)
If you set a goal and start heading in that direction, you’ll get somewhere. It may or may not be where you imagined you’d end up. And if it’s not, so what? There’ll be some feelings, but you don’t have to believe them! You haven’t failed. You’ve lost nothing. Unless you believe you have.
What If You Succeed At Achieving A Goal?
You could just as well have asked “How do you overcome the feeling of achieving your goals?” – which nobody wants to do, because generally it feels good to achieve a goal.
But we’ve probably all come across people who are so arrogant and puffed up because they did something they endlessly brag about – so much so that the rest of us all want to take them down a peg or two! In such cases, we actually do wonder how we could get them to overcome their inflated sense of self-importance!
Your feelings are a guidance system to whether you’re following your true nature, (something close to what the Buddhists call “dharma” I believe), but they are not a measure of your worthiness, your deservingness of respect or any kind of measure of success. You are simply you and throughout your life you will achieve certain things and miss the mark on others. Like we all do. The game is to play, but not to make how you feel about who you are dependent on the results you get.
I hope that helps.
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