We’ve all tried and failed at something, especially when it comes to making a change or starting a new habit. It happens. It’s natural. Sometimes, you just find yourself neck-deep in a bacon cheeseburger on the second day of a cleanse (or so we hear). But when we let go of a goal — either by quietly admitting defeat or just pretending it never happened — we tend to just move on without thinking about why it didn’t work out. After all, no one wants to dwell on a disappointment, particularly right after it’s happened.
The problem is that by not learning from our failures and embracing their causes, we can doom ourselves to repeat it. That’s why as you set to move forward with your new goal, you owe it to yourself to revisit the ghosts of your resolutions past and to take a look at where it went wrong. It’s the only way to make sure that old stumbling blocks won’t haunt you as you move forward.
Thinking back to an old goal
Take a minute to think about a goal you haven’t reached. (We know this won’t be your favorite task, but trust us.) It could be big, it could be small, it could be something you’ve tried to do multiple times. If it relates to your new goal, all the better.
Now ask yourself these questions and scribble down some notes.
- What’s the reason I gave up?
- Is this an obstacle that often keeps me from my goals?
- If not, what does usually stop me?
Cultivating smarter persistence
Okay, you’ve owned your past failure, which is THE BIGGEST AND HARDEST STEP. Now let’s move forward. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?”
Maybe your goal was too ambitious and you asked too much of yourself, too soon. Maybe you didn’t keep track of your progress and it fell by the wayside. Maybe you didn’t find the time or progress came slower than expected. Maybe they were they out of kale and so you just ordered a bacon cheeseburger.
Whatever the obstacle was, you’ve taken a few important steps by naming it and working to understand it. Now incorporate it into your strategy.
Pre-planning for the obstacles
You’ve thought about where you’ve been and where you want to go and so it’s time to plan for those potential obstacles ahead.
Let’s say you want to start eating healthier. Making sure your pantry is well-stocked with good options (or de-stocked of temptations) will help keep balance in the universe. Or, if you know you have a trip ahead of you, plotting out where and what you could eat and packing healthy snacks can limit the opportunities to get sidetracked.
The important thing is to practice persistence. Consider all the angles, think about what you need this time around, and focus on what you can control. That way, when a familiar roadblock appears you can drive right through it…because you anticipated the roadblocks and started driving a Hummer.