A Guide to Trying Again: Why Multiple Attempts at Accomplishing a Goal Could Set You Up For Success

On the road to accomplishing a particularly challenging goal, one may experience the occasional bouts of frustration when attempts fall short. We set high expectations for ourselves, and may internalize a sense of grief if the process of forming a new habit turns out to be more difficult than we’d expected. Maybe someone sets out to quit smoking, but caves and has a cigarette after a challenging day at work. Or perhaps an individual sets a new fitness goal and implements a gym schedule, but finds that it’s hard to stay consistent amongst a busy work schedule. In both examples, the person has every intention of following through with their goals, but finds that life throws curveballs strong enough to make the path to success more unpredictable. 

It’s important to use these perceived failures as fuel for the next attempt. There are lessons in each and every pursuit, and these lessons will equip you with the information you need to reach success. 

For example: Tracy is a mother of two, marketing coordinator, and Chicago native. She’s had a goal of becoming more fit, and wants to go running at least three times per week. She bought new running shoes, filled her water bottle each morning, and carved out time in her calendar to wake up early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday of each week in order to fit a run into her busy schedule. She set herself up for success in all ways she deemed necessary. On Monday morning though, Tracy felt far too tired to go for an early morning run. She stayed up well into the late night helping her son with homework, and stayed up until three in the morning feeling anxious about a work assignment. So when the morning came, she decided to grab a few hours of extra sleep rather than going for a run. A similar pattern continued in the following weeks, and Tracy felt frustrated with what felt like a failed attempt at becoming more fit. 

When we examine this example, we can see that Tracy had the dedication and proper plan to reach her goal. The factors that hindered her success were external elements: her son has a heavy course load and needs lots of extra help, and she’s stressed out about her job. If she takes the time to examine why she wasn’t able to reach her fitness goal, she’ll find that she has other elements in her life that she needs to correct in order to build the right environment for success. So on a second attempt, she may also incorporate a plan that not only factors in the immediate needs (running shoes, setting early alarms, establishing a running route) but also answers to the external needs as well (her son’s school work and her own work-related stressors).

Rather than embodying failure as a characterization of our ability to reach a goal, we must utilize the opportunity that failure gifts us in regards to understanding what’s truly holding us back. Things are rarely as simple as, “I can’t reach this goal.” On the contrary, most people have things that are holding them back, that they’ve never even considered. When attempting to accomplish a goal, take notes of the factors that may be holding you back along the way. All beautiful, innovative things in the world were created within a trial and error process. With each trial, we learn valuable insight into what we need in order to be successful. If you’ve tried and failed, you’re already well on your way towards success. The key is in trying again, now better prepared and better equipped with the knowledge needed to achieve.

By Cami Thomas

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