Overcoming Failure

Any fitness or ‘diet’ book is going to have some discussion about setting goals. Even if you aren’t familiar with setting exercise or nutritional goals you’re probably aware that all goals must be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic and
  • Time Sensitive

Knowing all of those things we still set goals that we have fail to achieve. Here are just a few of my goals that I set with the best of intentions but failed to meet:

  • Run 5 times every week for a month
  • Write up and stick to a list for weekly grocery shopping
  • Go to bed no later than 11:00 pm Sunday – Thursday
  • Spend at least 30 minutes studying the Bible every day 

When faced with failure we have two options: A) accept it as failure and allow it to derail long-term goals or B) use the experience as a stepping stone to create a new path to success. 

To grow and move on from the experience you have to be willing to ask yourself why you ‘failed’ and what you’re willing to change to achieve your goals.

Why did you fail?

Sometimes failure is just a true indication of an ‘unreadiness’ to change. This speaks most directly to the ‘attainable’ and ‘realistic’ characteristics of your goals. Sometimes what we believe we are capable of achieving doesn’t exactly match up with what we are willing to do to achieve the goal.

For instance, let’s say you set a goal like me to run 5 days a week for a month and after the first week you’ve only laced up your running shoes twice. It’s pretty unlikely that you are going to have a complete turn-around for the 3 remaining weeks of the month. So it’s time to ask some questions:

  • WHAT IS THE REASON FOR MY GOAL? Why do I want to run 5 days a week? Is it part of a larger goal to improve time or distance OR is it just a goal in itself?
  • WHAT PREVENTED ME FROM ACHIEVING IT? Why did I only get out 2 times this week? Did I make excuses for myself OR did something out of my control prevent me?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help determine what you’re willing to do about it.

Preventing additional failures

Reminding yourself of the reason for the goal and identifying the source of failure will help you to determine if you need to re-focus and try again or if you need to set it aside for now.

If you lost sight of the long-term goal or just weren’t committed enough maybe you need to pursue the goal again with a more specific plan. For instance, I am going to run for 30 minutes before work on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and run for 60 minutes on Sunday before church with my friend. Some goals simply require more planning than we anticipate.

On the other hand you might discover you allow almost anything to be an excuse for not following through. Bottom line is this: If you aren’t willing to do anything different then you most certainly aren’t going to get a different result. If you’re unable to increase your commitment to achieving the goal it’s time to put it on the shelf for a later date. If you set the goal aside take what you’ve learned and apply it to a new goal.

So what did I learn about my failures?

  • Run 5 times every week for a month – I like races far more than I like training so I run when inspired and fill in my cardio commitments in other forms of exercise
  • Write up and stick to a list for weekly grocery shopping – I need help doing this so I ask family members for input before I go to the store
  • Go to bed no later than 11:00 pm Sunday – Thursday – The longer I stay downstairs the later I will likely stay up, I try and get in bed by 10:30 pm at the latest
  • Spend at least 30 minutes studying the Bible every day – I’m not always focused on reading and studying so prayer, group discussions and worship music are some of the others ways I can connect with God and grow in my faith

So what’s your next goal and are you willing to push past ‘failure’ to achieve it?

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