Hitting goals and living a life aligned with your purpose is a skillset.
This isn’t something that most of us are born being great at. We haven’t been taught that it’s normal to face failures along the way to success.
In fact, the old adage “trial and error” suggests that failure is an error, and errors are grounds for quitting.
We have been taught to make failures mean that our goals are too big for us, or that we aren’t cut out for what we want, or that it isn’t possible to build the skills needed to hit our goals.
But hear this: if you feel called to make a change or go for a goal, then you are ready for it. Otherwise the idea would not be coming to you now. Consider it as a personal invitation to live a more fully aligned life.
Here is where learning the skillset for staying on track becomes so important, because failures will inevitably happen along the way.
When times feel challenging, you might consider throwing in the towel. But challenging moments do not mean that what you want isn’t meant for you. They simply mean that there is more to learn.
I know firsthand that when we are in the thick of challenges, it takes utmost strength and courage to carry onward.
In these very moments, these new skills will get you through:
Remembering that our slip-ups are nothing more than failed experiments. Failures may not give us our desired outcome, but any outcome offers a learning experience. Rather than rushing toward that next thing, take the time to gather and analyze this new data on you and your life.
Taking a more objective approach helps avoid self-criticism, and it builds patience in the process. When I was a medicinal chemist, I remember for every ten reactions run, on average, only one would lead to the desired product. Many variations of the same reaction were often run for a single, optimized positive result! Can we invest in ourselves to that extent?
Being more compassionate with ourselves. This skill is a simple, yet powerful one. I find myself revisiting and relearning this one over and over again. It requires us to befriend rather than berate ourselves.
When we judge ourselves over a disappointing outcome, it becomes personal. And when we make it personal, we are not using our energy for the greatest good. Our health and well-being suffer. Compassion challenges us to use our personal thinking for good.
Taking a less personal approach to our external work allows for distinction between the work we present to the world and our being in the world.
As a scientist, I wouldn’t beat myself up when I saw black tar (a chemistry fail) at the bottom of my flask. The parameters of my experiment were still in the discovery phase. It wasn’t to be taken personally. It was about designing a new experiment given what was learned from the negative result.
So how can you speak to yourself more kindly when life hands you those “black tar” moments? (Hint: how would you console a friend or loved one?) Nurture yourself with gentler thoughts and acceptance.
When we cultivate self-compassion and make hitting goals less personal, we can see that our disparaging thoughts aren’t reality. They’re just a product of habitual thinking.
The inner critical voice becomes nothing more than a series of repeated, unhelpful thoughts.
We get to choose new thoughts to think about our lives.
For example: Failure is just part of the process, and it does not imply anything about what’s possible for you.
It is tempting to rush past our perceived failures, but when we do, we miss the wisdom and the self-trust to be gained.
So slow down and learn from your experiments.
And remember: When a goal is meant for you, it will happen, on time, in time, and when the conditions are right.
What goals are you working toward? What new experiments will you run?
P.S.- If you need help setting and hitting goals, I can help.
In my coaching program, I help simplify nutritious eating and healthy living while exploring your mindset.
This is the key to sustainable change.
Better health is closer than you think.