You’re in a situation where you find your goals aren’t going to the plan you set earlier in the year.  Don’t despair, it is possible to turn your failing goals around… 

As we approach the last quarter of the year, I realise how little progress I’ve actually made with most of my goals.  It’s a similar situation, you’ve probably experienced – they start off with good intent, but after a couple of months, the enthusiasm drops and they started falling, and failing fast. 

It’s easy to blame this lack of commitment to other things going on in life, whether it’s stresses from work, other people causing blockers, or lack of motivation.  But the truth is, I’ve just not been driven enough to apply the time to make a decent amount of progress. 

Now I’m in a position where most of the year has gone, time that could have been used to make some good progress.  It’s demoralising, and I could easily give up, or decide to wait for a fresh start in the new year.  But that just isn’t me, and if you’ve taken the time to read this, it’s probably not you either.  Despite setbacks, it is possible to turn your failing goals around, and see some positive results. 

What you need to do when you realise you’re failing your goals is simple.  You need to take a step back and reflect and recalibrate your approach.  Although that’s not a sexy answer, it’s the simple truth if you want to turn things around

Taking the time to reflect allows you to be accountable for your actions (or lack of action) and it lets you critically examine whether your goals were achievable and realistic to obtain in the first place. 

By carrying out this self-reflection you are creating the opportunity to reevaluate the position you are in, and make new plans, with the intent of going back to take the next step and bounce back. 

When reflecting make sure you do the following: 

Use SMART methods to record your goals 

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You don’t often see SMART goals referenced in a lot of self-improvement writing because it comes across as boring, clichéd and unoriginal.  The reason SMART is boring, clichéd and unoriginal is that it works

A top reason for goals failure is the inability to critically evaluate and think through the purpose of their goals, and how they intend to go about achieving them. 

The key to SMART is in it’s name: 

S – Specific: allows you to really drill down into what you want the goal to achieve. 

M – Measurable: how will you know when you’ve achieved it?  By making your goal measurable you apply some sort of metric or tangible evidence to demonstrate it’s been achieved.  If you’ve not got anything like this, apply something you can see to know you’ve got to your destination. 

A – Achievable: assesses whether your goal is something you can actually reach.  If you’re aiming to earn £10,000 a month in affiliate link sales, by next year, yet you’ve never made a single sale, and don’t actually know anything about affiliate marketing, then it’s not achievable.  Review this goal to make it achievable. 

R – Realistic: your goals also need to be grounded in reality.  Think about what you have within your current capabilities.  How can you grow that?  What are you trying to do?  If the ‘What’ you are trying to do, is something that is currently out of reach of your abilities, then you’re failing to be realistic. 

T – Time-based: every goal you set should have a target date to complete.  By setting a date you have a driver to motivate you into action, otherwise you’re more likely to procrastinate viewing your goal as something you can do ‘tomorrow’.  Make sure you set a date when you’d like to achieve it – even if you don’t, you’ll still have made lots of growth along the way. 

Rebuilding confidence and belief you can achieve your goal 

When you’ve had a relatively difficult year trying to reach a goal, you can lose a lot of confidence.  You question you’re ability and resources to be able to achieve it. 

As part of the reflection process, you need to rebuild that self-belief – stop calling yourself a loser, telling yourself it’s not possible.  The process of reviewing is about looking on the mistakes you’ve already made and what you can do better in future. 

It’s also about forgetting what happened yesterday, and ready yourself to take the next step. 

You can put where you are in perspective by recognising how far you have come since you set your first goal, and show gratitude for all the good things you do have in life. 

Have you’re health?  Perfect! 

Have someone who loves you and will be by your side supporting you no matter what happens?  Even better! 

…And you should also celebrate all you’re wins (even if they are small). 

Put aside those negative thoughts – use compassionate self-talk 

“Okay, I said I would send one article off for publication every month, and I’ve not done that, but now I’m using this time to be accountable, reflect why that hasn’t worked, forgive myself for being lazy and to get myself back on track.” 

The trick with being compassionate is to recognise and be accountable for the failure – but simply changing your mindset to say “I tried” or “I’ll do that differently”, can really reframe your self-belief. 

Image from Pexels

Take the next step 

Reflection is all well and hopefully by following the process, you’ve already written out a list of actions you plan to take next. 

That can involve returning to your fitness routine, following a new more realistic schedule, or recognising what goals you actually don’t care for, reprioritising and focusing your effort on the one or two goals that you really want to achieve this year.  Basically… if you want to achieve your goal(s) make sure to keep showing up. 

A part of the next step as well as action, is to ensure you continue to indulge in regular self-reflection.  Keep asking those difficult questions – when you get these problems out on the table you can examine them and start on working on them until you find a solution. 

For more guidance on reflection, I fully recommend Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, particularly the chapter around ‘Sharpening the Saw’ – this introduces the quadrant theory which is a simple concept to manage your time more effectively, so you spend more time on productive stuff and less on time wasters, and also recommends a system to spend time each day reflecting on what you need to do, and what you have done. 


Image from Pexels

Achievement of goals isn’t an easy process – and that’s the point of a good goal.  If you are not setting something that will challenge and stretch you, then you’re probably just working off a task list, and need to get better at setting goals which are actually rewarding to achieve. 

When you find you are flagging on a goal, it’s worth keeping in mind – having difficult goals is what keeps us engaged, otherwise it would just get boring if we experienced no adversity when doing them.  That’s why I have the motto aim higher – basically when you set a goal, ask yourself as well as being realistic and achievable, is it challenging enough to fulfil you? 

Goals require your commitment – sometimes the unavoidable gets in the way, like life which slows you down, or brings your progress to a complete stop.  When this occurs, it’s not about fault, it’s about how you get over it and move on. 

Failure is part of the process, regularly reviewing is an important step to reflect, look at where you want to go, adjust your position, replan and take those next steps! 

Actions to take away: 

  • Ensure to take timeout to reflect on your goals – ask yourself the difficult questions to understand why you’re failing. 
  • If you haven’t already, rewrite your goals in a SMART format – the more specific you can be about what you want to achieve, makes it a lot easier to set actions in place to aim for this. 
  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself even if you haven’t made as much progress as you would like, this is a step to rebuild confidence in your abilities. 
  • Treat this as a learning experience, and a time to reprioritise the goals you most desire. 
  • Success depends on your ability to keep showing up, make sure not to procrastinate and throw yourself back into the next step of progression. 

Good luck, you’ve got this! 

Wishing you the best of success in your goals.

James @Perfect Manifesto


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11 thoughts on “How To Turn Failing Goals Around (That Actually Works…)

  1. the importance of a positive attitude can’t be overstated; we’re all going to miss some goals we have set for ourselves, but a positive attitude is what keeps us going…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There certainly is a degree of realism we need to take that we won’t always achieve the goal (or at least on time or to the original plan). A positive attitude helps reassess the situation and keep us moving forward!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Using SMART goals makes so much sense to me and it’s a really helpful mindset shift. I think many people, including myself, try to set really big goals but then don’t think about all the other, smaller goals it takes achieving first to get there. It ends up feeling like a failure when in fact it isn’t and is actually a reminder to be SMARTer about it all. Thanks for this breakdown of info — it was really useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Often the most common are the best and SMART is really useful to help give your goal structure.

      With a massive long term goal that takes years to get there breaking it down smaller helps, using an example of advancing in your career to do a particular job you can break it down to small goals – who you need to speak to, experience you need to get, qualifications to achieve etc…

      Thank you for your comment I’m glad you enjoyed this post 🙂


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