How to Persevere When Your Goals Don’t Go As Planned

posted by Aby 13 Comments

“You’ve come too far to quit now.” These were the words of our 14-year-old son to my husband Jay, who was staring blankly at his computer screen. That computer screen showed that simplify 101’s web server was still down, seven hours after crashing as we tried to take our new website live. That website project represented years of hard work and effort. Over 1,000 articles, blog posts, tips and web pages had been moved from one site to another, re-categorized and reformatted. New functionality had been added to the site to make things easier for our users—search features, better categories, social media sharing buttons. We had a fresh new color palette and design, and we couldn’t wait for people to see and enjoy our new site. But despite meticulous planning and the careful management of thousands of details, we never could have dreamed that it would be our web server that would fail us in the eleventh hour. But, as our son reminded Jay, we had come too far to quit now. 

Our website project taught us many things, but most of all, it taught us how to persevere when goals don’t go as planned. If you’re feeling discouraged (or even downright frustrated, like we were!) that your goals and resolutions aren’t in perfect sync with your life and your plans, we know exactly how you feel. But instead of giving up, use the following ideas to persevere whenever your goals don’t go as planned.

Remember Why.

question markIf the path to your goal is bumpier than you anticipated, it can feel like a sign to stop. You might even start thinking, “if it’s this hard, maybe I’m on the wrong path.” If you start feeling defeated, stop and remember why you wanted this goal in the first place. How will your life, relationships or business be better when you’ve achieved your goal? Create a compelling list of reasons, and then pick yourself up and move forward. 

For Jay and I, remembering why we started our website project in the first place—a better experience for our customers and website visitors as well as the opportunity to simplify things behind the scenes—made it easier to keep moving forward despite huge and unanticipated obstacles. We knew that stopping really wasn’t an option.

Recognize Your Points of Control.

You’ve created the perfect plan for your goal, just as the experts recommend when you set one. You mapped everything out…but then things didn’t go as planned. Recognize that plans are imperfect. There is no possible way to predict every bump and turn you will encounter along the way to your goal. But, it is highly likely that you will encounter obstacles, speed bumps and detours. When you do, ask yourself this question: Is this in my control or not? Identify your points of control, and then take action on those areas. While Jay couldn’t control whether or not the server decided to crash, he could troubleshoot and work with the server company to get it fixed. But beating himself up over something that was completely out of his control would have only delayed the ultimate completion of this project. In summary, don’t beat yourself up over things that are outside of your control. Identify what you can control, and then, get busy taking action in those areas. 

Let Go of Deadline Pressure.

Let me ask you a question: If you’re doing something for the very first time, how could you possibly know how long it is going to take? While common goal-setting wisdom suggests you should set a deadline for your goals, there are times when it better to chuck your deadline right out the window! Sometimes deadlines add to feelings of defeat, instead of fueling your motivation to succeed. This was certainly the case with our website project. We really wanted the project done before New Year’s Day—after all, January is the time of year when organizing is on nearly everyone’s mind. But focusing on that deadline just added to our frustration. And it’s harder to get anything done when you’re frustrated.
If you’re feeling defeated or frustrated because your goal deadline has come and gone without your goal accomplished, let go of that pressure. Instead of focusing on a set date to finish your goal, carve out a set amount of time daily or weekly to make progress on your goal. When you consistently spend time making progress on your goal, the finishing will fall into place. (Our new website did go live, on its own time table. Your goal will happen, too. )

Surround Yourself with Supportive People.

Sometimes we really need someone else to pick us up, dust us off and help us get our feet pointed back in the right direction. Seek out people who will support you on your goal journey. Surround yourself with people who will remind you how far you’ve come…and let you know that you’ve come too far to quit now. You simply don’ t need any doubters in your camp right now.

Our son was right, and when our new website launched, we were all thrilled. It wasn’t always easy, but it was absolutely worth the time, effort and motivation it took to complete this project and accomplish this goal. Good luck getting back on track with your goals for the remaining 11 months of 2013!

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  • January 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Congratulations on the new website! :)
    I can only guess how much hard work went into it.
    But it was well worth it. Now I’m off to explore your fresh from the press site and rediscover some gems!

    January 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks so much Adrienn. I hope you enjoy your exploration. :)

    • January 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      This is such a good and highly useful post, Abi – I am sure you could make a mini-course out of this! I especially love how you have used your own experience to offer something of great value to us, and as someone whose life is full of bumps, I appreciate all of the above – especially “Recognise your points of control: and “Let go of deadline pressure”. Both great messages for me today – thank-you! Wishing you continued success on this lovely website :) .

      January 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you so much Alexa! I appreciate your kind wishes and idea for a mini course. :)
      ~ Aby

      • January 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        What a bright son you have raised. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

        January 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

        Thanks so much Heather. We think he is pretty great. :)

        • January 30, 2013 at 10:34 pm

          thank you for the reminder that any progress gets me closer to the goal!

          February 1, 2013 at 11:20 am

          You’re welcome, Wendy. Thanks for your comment. :)

          • January 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm

            Hi ABY, your words are so real. thank you for all the reminders as I read your article. Your advice is making a difference. Hi, to the family…. .and congrats on the web site

            February 1, 2013 at 11:21 am

            Hi, Norma,
            Thanks so much for your comment. It’s so nice to hear from you. I’ll give you a call this weekend.
            Hugs,
            Aby

            • April 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

              I absolutely love all of the great organizing tips you provide Aby. As a mother of 3 beautiful daughters and a stepdaughter, staying organized can seem too overwhelming sometimes! But I love checking out all the great organizing tips during “my” time in the evening. My financial situation won’t allow me to participate in any of the wonder guides you put together for your fans (not just yet anyways :) ) ! However, just reading through your blogs, tweets, and tips have really started to help me learn how to get organized while avoiding the stress and chaos that has effected me time and time again! Thank you!

              April 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

              Thanks so much Heather! I appreciate your comment. So glad that my blogs, tweets and tips are helping you get organized and avoid stress and chaos!
              Hugs,
              Aby

              • June 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm

                congratulations reaching a goals takes hard work but if you really desire what you are planning its well wort the time.once you accomplish your goal you will be the happiest person ever