Goals: Try Again Tomorrow

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The sun rises over the pacific ocean

I’m not going to lie, my New Year’s Resolutions are long gone. Heck, they were long gone back in February, along with most other people’s goals.

Once we’ve abandoned our New Year’s Resolutions, we usually don’t pick them back up. But I think we should. Here’s why.

OK, let’s say my goal was to brush my teeth twice a day. For the first 4 or 5 days, my teeth are squeaky clean. My dentist will so proud. Then on the sixth night, I fall asleep watching TV, stumble into bed, and forget to brush my teeth.

Now I’ve got a couple of options:

1. “I tried. I failed. Well, so much for that goal.”

OR…

2. “I tried. I failed. But…not brushing my teeth is kind of gross….”

Obviously this is somewhat of an extreme example. Hopefully nobody out there would pick option #1 and stop brushing their teeth altogether because of one slip-up.

Failing to brush my teeth that one night doesn’t mean my goal was unreachable. It doesn’t mean my goal was bad. It doesn’t mean I should never brush my teeth again.

It’s the same with other goals: just because we “fail” once doesn’t mean we can’t try again, or that our goal is bad.

But … it’s sooo easy to rationalize with goals. We only set the goal in the first place because it was something we felt obligated or pressured to do, like eat healthy food or exercise. Or because it was something we want to do, but is really hard, like saving money. So when we mess up the goal, it’s really easy to use our one “failure” as an excuse to give up on the goal.

This is stupid!

One failure is not a death sentence for our goals.

Goals –> Habits

Most goals are about habits. We set goals to exercise more, hoping it’ll become a habit, and we’ll lose weight, or be more healthy, or whatever. We set goals to save money: if it becomes a habit, we’ll feel less pain in the pocketbook, and be better prepared for retirement, or the future, or whatever.

It takes a long time to form new habits, though. One study found that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit…some habits, like exercise, took even longer! [1]

Calling it quits on a goal after one “fail” only makes it worse.

Starting over after the “fail” makes it better.

Try Again Tomorrow

This year I made a new goal: Try Again Tomorrow. If I forget to run on Tuesday, I’m not waiting until the next week or the next month to try again.

No.  

The reality is, I’m probably going to fail at least once. We all are. But achieving goals requires persistence. When we try again tomorrow, we’re being persistent. We’re one step closer to forming a habit. One step closer to making a better life and future.

Try again tomorrow. It’s the only goal that really matters.