The Good Life Institute, LLC » Counseling for Couples, Individuals, and Families

Masthead header

Failing Forward

Football Flying Through GoalpostA friend reminded me recently about something that I think is vital to making progress no matter what our goals are.  Many people are often turned off by the word “GOAL”.  Goals are those things that you have to come up with at work reviews, or what you write down on January first, and so often they are meaningless and don’t get accomplished.  For some, fear of failure prevents goal setting.  It is an emotional downer to believe that goals are unachievable, to avoid setting goals, or to simply not work for them.

I believe it is a human need to make progress in something.  It doesn’t matter where the progress is happening, but progress has to happen.  When we aren’t progressing we get depressed.  Absence of looking forward causes us to ruminate on the past and this deepens our depression.  One of the greatest anti-depressants I have witnessed is people making goals and achieving them.

However, there is a not-so-fun part of working on goals is when we fail to accomplish what we set out to achieve.  For some many this is a place to stop, ruminate, and feel bad about ourselves.  Oh we FAILED!  It’s terrible……or is it terrible?  What is failure really?  I asked a teenager once who was really a true failure.  He gave me some ideas, but when we talked about it, we couldn’t really define what makes the ultimate failure.  Because, maybe, there is no true failure.  However, when we don’t reach our goals, how many of us label ourselves as a failure?

So what is failure then?  I challenge you to use this new definition: Failure is information.  Often, failure is information that we set the wrong goal.  Failure is an opportunity to re-evaluate why our goal setting didn’t work.  Failure is a time to get our of our emotional mind and to put on our thinking cap to try again to make a goal that is actually workable.

For instance, I can’t make a goal to work out at a gym if I don’t have a membership.  I will obviously fail at that .  What is more workable and a realistic goal is to go inquire about a gym membership.  If I have a goal to be nicer, and then I was mean, looking at the reasons why I was mean would help me to make a better goal.  Was I mean because I was tired and emotional?  Perhaps my goal needs to be improving my sleep or improving my emotional awareness.

Goals don’t have to be a bad word. Goals are just the description of the process of making progress in whatever area we want.  Consider your recent failures?  Is there something you could learn?  Perhaps a better goal to set?  Don’t avoid failure, embrace it as a means to making good progress and feeling accomplished.




Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *