How to Fail at Goals


We celebrate New Year’s over and over, often with the same goals in mind and determination to reach them. Why then do we have to keep restarting every year? Why can’t we reach them and then maintain them? Do you ever wish that you could say next New Year’s there will be new goals, because I’ll have mastered the ones I have been repeating year after year! What if you could reach those goals even if you get derailed by the unexpected illness, or job loss, or uncontrollable added stress that comes your way?

The answer is – you can! It’s all about rewiring your brain, changing your perspective, getting rid of “goals.”  Instead, build a vision of your life, make a decision about who you believe you are on the inside (even if your body or behavior doesn’t reflect that now), and then build daily behaviors that back up that belief. Stop buying into the latest cookie cutter fad diet or exercise that promises to raise your hopes and then dump you back to needing the next new fad next year. I’m focusing on health goals because that’s a big one, but this can be applied to anything you really want to accomplish.

A goal is something like, to lose 20 pounds, or work out 4 times a week and only have one cheat meal a week. Those are great goals, but what if you get derailed? What if you lose motivation for a bit? What if uncontrollables get you feeling like….. “I quit!” “I can’t!” “Im failing again!” “Its too hard!” “This is just the way I am, I cant change!”

Stop measuring your worth based on your ability to make an outcome come true. We can’t control outcomes. We can only control the process, the effort, and decisions that we make. Because having a firm belief about who you really are will guide your decisions, you cannot fail or fall off the wagon.  If you make a decision, such as to eat a piece of cake when you hadn’t planned too, but you believe firmly that you are a healthy eating, athletic, active person- then you enjoy the cake and get back to your normal healthy eating, active lifestyle.  BUT-If you’re working around specific, strict goals and you have that piece of cake then you’ve blown it, you’ve ruined it, you start to lose confidence or punish yourself with over exercise and burn yourself out. You can’t possibly maintain that kind of strict control over your life for the long haul. You can’t repeatedly label every thing off plan as a failure and not be negatively affected by it and lose motivation. You can’t focus on what you can’t have all the time and not start to crave it.

So what’s the point Im getting at here? Focus on the process, on the daily day-in and day-out behavior. Focus on what you want to be, and then as often as you are able, make decisions that support what you want to be.  Do you really need to lose exactly 20 pounds? Maybe if you are a wrestler before an event you do. But otherwise, it’s more likely that you want to feel more energy, look good, feel comfortable, and be healthy. Those are all things you WANT and should therefore focus your daily behavior on. The outcome will take care of itself, if you take care of yourself!

Take the stairs more, go for a walk when you feel sleepy instead of taking a nap to feel more energized. Fit workouts into your schedule and be regular (not obsessive) about it. Make sure you hit each body part at least once a week in your workout. It may be in the gym with your trainer, or at a class, or in a hotel room doing some squats and lunges before heading off to a meeting.  Don’t skip it because it’s not the perfect workout in the perfect conditions, just consistently live out the healthy lifestyle you want to have. STOP PUNISHING YOURSELF for failing. Perfection is unreachable.

When those uncontrollable events happen – a sick family member, too much traveling, injury, etc, you can still make healthy choices even if they aren’t that “12 weeks to a bikini body” extreme training plan. There are 86,400 seconds in each day. What will you choose to do with the ones that you have control over. What choices will you make? Are they in line with the person you have decided you are on the inside? Every day you have to believe in who you are, and make choices to reflect that person. Don’t make goals, make daily efforts. Make this the last New Year’s where you restart your journey to health. After all, we all know there’s an athlete inside of you tired of being boxed into the latest fad, that just wants to be fed some healthier options, try new activities, and move more often.

Keep following for more on how to implement How to Fail at Goals

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