I am a lecturer, every day, I work with people who have huge dreams and goals — of reaching the pinnacle of their respective field, becoming a world-renowned expert, writing a transformational book, sharing their creativity around the globe, changing lives, and more. I too have big dreams, and have spent the past decade focused on doing what’s necessary, inside and out, to make those dreams a reality.
Dreams and a vision for our future are wonderful things to have. They can inspire us, keep us motivated and help us to do scary things. But what happens when we don’t achieve our dreams? What happens when you wake up in the middle of your life and realize you haven’t done the things you thought or hoped you would?
If you’ve read along for a while, you know that I attribute a lot of my personal success to an intense process of goal-setting I undergo every year. I call this my Annual Review, and ever since I started doing it each December, I’ve made a great deal more progress during the next year than I initially thought I would.
Last December during the review, I included an entrepreneur goal of running an adult training centre (Wondrous Flair Training Centre) in 2020/2021. Well, here we are in February , and I finally got to kick start my first Mandarin Class.
Because of all my other duties, consistency has been tough. I try to contibute wherever I am free. So far, I only have a few students attending the free trial class with none signing up yet. I am worried, and it reminded me of the question I’ve heard from my partners a few times over the past meetings: what happens when we don’t have students at all?
Well, we do everything we can to achieve what we set out to do, but it’s true that once in a while, something doesn’t work out as planned. In the case of failure, I adopt a six-step process as outlined below.
1. Acknowledge disappointment. If something doesn’t work out, I don’t want to kill myself over it– but I also don’t want to forget about it right away. I take goal-setting seriously and I don’t want to fail. If it happens, I’m going to be a little disappointed, and that’s OK.
2. Maintain a flexible mindset, revert to backups if possible. Don’t let your failed projects and work consume you. Get back up and try again. My mistakes should be my motivation, not an excuse. Bear this in mind : no matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
3. Remind yourself why it’s important.
It’s easy to give up on something, because not doing it is always easier. But giving up means you’re losing something important, like helping someone, and so if my reasons for doing something aren’t just selfish (pleasure, vanity), then I will renew my vigor for the struggle. This alone is often enough to get me going again, especially if I’m doing it to help someone important.
4. Enjoy the process. I realize that I’m far from perfect, and that the guilty secrets I hide inside myself are no different than anyone else’s. Our goal should be progress, not perfection. Yes, failure is undesirable.Yes, failing is never what we plan for when we pursue a goal.
5. Take time to recover and start over. Give yourself a break, once you’ve recovered, you are better equipped to chase after more dreams, more secure in knowing that you’ve survived a failure.
If I’m struggling, sometimes my mind or body just needs a break from the discipline. So I’ll take a day or two off, or a week, or even more. There’s no set time that’s right for every situation, so I’ve been learning to go by feel.
Change the process, routine or the approach.
There is always a better way to get something done. You may not be able to take a long break from work, but the point is, give yourself a break and get back to it with a new mindset.
6. Compare to other goals at the end of the year (and reevaluate for next year). If I really don’t do something well that I had planned for, I may be disappointed, but I’ll try to put it in context of everything else I did manage to accomplish.
As part of this final step, when I fail to do something I deliberately set out to do, I re-evaluate that goal in the context of future planning.
One thing is absolutely certain, if you really want to succeed in life, if you want to do something special, something incredible, if you want to fulfill your dreams… failure is inevitable.
I hope this sharing helps you in your journey on the pathway to success.