In my post, “Overcome the 5 obstacles to change,” I shared about two projects that had taken over our garage for fourteen months, which meant I was parked outside. I declared that I would be parked in the garage by April 15th. But I wasn’t.
If you don’t meet your goal on time, does that mean you failed? Did I fail?
Not reaching a goal can mean there wasn’t sufficient intrinsic motivation. It’s like setting a goal to lose weight because your doctor or significant other recommends that you do. In my situation, I was motivated! Between the numerous tree branches housing birds (i.e. lots of poop on my car) and traversing up and down our steep driveway in heels several times a week, I wanted to be in that garage.
Another reason can be that the goal is too vague, like “eat healthy” or “exercise more.” There’s no specificity to measure success. I was specific.
People also don’t reach their goals when they’re waiting to feel like it or waiting for the right time. The thing is, we rarely feel like it and it’s almost never the right time. The weekend after writing that post I started significant work on the shutter boards cluttering up the garage. I did not feel like it. I wanted to do other things. But it felt so good afterward! Like working out when you don’t want to, but then being so glad you did. Thinking about how you’ll feel after you do something can provide significant motivation to get moving.
So, back to the failure question.
Yes, I failed to reach the specific goal I set. But it’s not the whole story. Everyone fails. Successful people fail. It’s how we use failure that matters. Failure is a prerequisite for success. Think of it as an experiment to learn from:
- I learned that I needed buy-in for my goal from someone who was an integral part of getting the project done.
- I learned I should have paid attention to my instinct that April 15th seemed not entirely realistic.
- I learned how to persevere once the date passed because it was arbitrary – I still wanted to reach the goal!
On May 17th, I parked in the garage for the first time in 17 months. And you know what? I call it success.
Are you working towards a weight loss goal that’s taking longer than you expected? How can you use it to learn and keep going so that you lose weight and actually keep it off?