Part 8 of Goal Setting Mastery is one of the most difficult steps to achieving your goals. This is where many people fall down and don’t get back up. It’s where you can really fail hard.
If you’ve ever read anything about failure, you’ll know that it’s not the end of the world. In fact failure can be a springboard to something greater. It can open your mind to learning and growing. It all depends on your mindset. If you’ve read Part 7 of this mini-course you’ll know that mindset can be the difference between winning big and not achieving at all. Notice I didn’t say failure there. You’ll fail many times on the way to success. I fail, Will Smith fails, Tony Robbins fails, everyone fails. Failures are steps on the way to success. Not achieving is something different, that’s when you give up and change your mindset to a non-achievement mindset.
The proper mindset for this stage is one of complete honesty. Sit down with your goals and review your progress. How often you do this is, of course, entirely up to you. I recommend weekly for short terms goals and monthly for long term goals, however this will depend entirely on the goal.
Why you need complete honesty is that being dishonest with yourself is the height of ridiculousness. You know you’re lying, why bother? If you haven’t met your goals, don’t pretend you have, or make excuses, because you’d only be lying to yourself and that makes absolutely no sense. Be brutal in your assessment of your performance, have no mercy. If you go soft on yourself, you’re only fooling yourself and will slow down your progress.
What I don’t think is helpful is self-flagellation. When I insist on honesty, I don’t need anyone to beat themselves about the head and neck with a mallet, but truthfully admit they haven’t achieved what they expected to, understand the real reasons for the failure and take care moving forward. If there is some sort of barrier to achieving your goals, a mindset issue, an unwillingness to work hard, fear, once you review your progress it will be that much easier to discover. And fix.
So let’s look at an example. Twenty years ago smoking cigarettes was extremely popular. Today, not so much. People are always trying to give up and many find it hard. It can’t be that hard, because many millions have done it, but still there’s a struggle involved. Let’s imagine that smoking was the main thing about yourself you really hated and you wanted to give up for so many reasons. You’ll follow all the others steps in Goal Setting Mastery and then you decide to review weekly. You set the goal and then give up, immediately. You make a decision and that’s that. After the first week of giving up, you sit down and review your progress and that where it really starts unraveling.
You got in a fight with your wife a couple of days ago and went outside to calm down and had a smoke to steady your nerves. It was only one cigarette, so it wasn’t that bad and it was better than losing your temper. In fact, you didn’t even enjoy it. It’s not like this will lead to starting smoking again, it was just a one time thing.
No, it was that bad. You made yourself a promise, you set yourself a goal and you didn’t stick to it. Admit that and move forward. You can’t go back in time and change things, so you’ll keep going and not smoke.
What are you doing there? Are you giving yourself permission to smoke if the emotional turmoil is bad enough? Might you invent further turmoil when your craving gets to an all-time high? Sound ridiculous? Not really. Addiction does crazy things to people. Like convincing them that smoking’s not that bad. I smoked as a young man and once decided to quit because it was gross and then really missed it when I had a drink, so then I decided to smoke only when I had a drink. And guess what?
I started drinking every night. Just so I could have a smoke, not consciously saying, “Oh, I want to smoke so I’ll go to the pub,” but inventing excuses and reasons to drink alcohol. I soon noticed what I was doing and reduced my drinking to negligible levels.
Instead of just giving yourself a free pass, why don’t you look at the real reason you smoked? The real reason you smoked isn’t because you had a fight with your wife, it’s because you wanted to feel something different than what you were feeling when you had a fight with your wife. You used smoking to replace that feeling. And who’s in control of what we’re feeling? Yup, you are.
So, what am I saying here? That in order to stop smoking you should learn to control your thoughts and emotional responses a bit better?
Not necessarily, though I think it would be a good start and it would certainly help you resist the urge to smoke when you are being emotional. It certainly would have done the trick on this occasion. The point is that by looking in depth at the reasons you didn’t achieve your goal, you will learn and grow, maybe enough so that there’s no repeat of the failure.
Whatever goal you have, review it regularly. Review it honestly and take whatever learnings you can from any failures. Do not:
Brush it under the rug
Pretend it didn’t matter
Beat yourself up about it
If, during the review, you have made progress it might be time to re-imagine and re-evaluate. There’s no harm in changing your goals midway through, it might be a bit of work, but this is a real opportunity to see if you’ve set yourself too difficult a goal or, more than likely, too easy a goal. You might even determine that you need more goals. Giving up cigarettes might lead to you taking up jogging, which you couldn’t do before because you got really short of breath. Changing yourself for the better often has unforeseen positive consequences. Lose weight: buy new clothes. Gain confidence: enter a new relationship.
I can almost guarantee that the more you follow these steps, the more powerful your goal setting will become and you will see your life changing before your very eyes.