5 Steps to Take After a Failed Goal

by Editorial Team on February 10, 2021

New year means new resolutions! Think of all the possibilities and potential. 

But as you think about what goals to set; your mind goes to your previous goals. And this year more than ever; there’s a good chance some of those goals never got completed. 


Many of us set goals for 2020 that included going to the gym, taking vacations, adventures with family, etc. 

And now you’re looking at those past goals to reflect on them before deciding some for 2021 and you are feeling deflated.

It happens more often than you think, and can be demoralizing if you don’t know how to bounce back.

Today we’re sharing a 5 step roadmap to bouncing back quickly from failed goals.

STEP 1: Perform an Autopsy.

The term may sound a little morbid; but we always recommend an autopsy of past events - success or failures. These post-mortem analyses will always tell you something you didn’t know. And this feedback is critical to growth.

So ask yourself, honestly, what is the reason you failed?

Spend some time understanding what happened. Did you get distracted? Did you overestimate your ability? Did you give it enough time? Was it money, time, people, etc? 

Failures are simply learning lessons for us all. Understanding these areas will give you the knowledge to be more effective and realistic next time. Then you’ll be better equipped to handle the same experiences next time. 

STEP 2: Focus on The Good

It may sound oversimplified; but recommend finding the good when you’re feeling demotivated from a failed goal. It’s not easy, but psychology experts say “High optimism will predict high effort and success.” Optimistic people are more likely to invest, act and put effort into achieving whatever it is that they want to get done.

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of it.”

So how do you put that in real life practice? Sure you missed your goal; but what did you accomplish or learn? Maybe it’s having better relationships with others. A happier work life balance. Confidence from trying something new. Or determination from resilience. 

By identifying what went wrong (step 1) and remembering the positives in your life (step 2), you’re prepared for step 3.

STEP 3: Ignite a new desire

This is all about keeping your energy going and finding a boost of motivation for your next round of goals. 

It can be easy to get discouraged and not want to feel the experience of disappointment again.

So to combat this, revisit your purpose; spending some time thinking about the big picture; or remind yourself of the mission. People have different motivators for their actions, and if you can spend time identifying your motivation, you’re much less likely to quit the goal.

Give yourself a compelling reason to act, and you’ll be more likely to stay focused on the journey. 

STEP 4: Be brutally Honest

Now that you know what went wrong, and are feeling positive and motivated about the future - it’s time to be brutally honest with the goals you’re going to set next.

Use the information you learned, the desire for the big picture, and determine what’s appropriate for you in the next phase. Are you going to try to hit the previous goals again? Or are they no longer relevant to your current situation, and you need to set new goals that are better suited for you. 

When thinking about the goals you’re setting (remember to make them SMART goals) continue to pause and reflect on them. 

Here are some coaching questions you should ask yourself regularly:

  • If I continue to do what I do, what will the results be? Will I be able to reach my goals?
  • Are my actions sufficient to generate the result I want and hence, achieve my goals?

Asking yourself these questions and being brutally honest with the answers will bring you more aligned with the goals you set and the plan of action to achieve them.

STEP 5: Reboot and Restart

Now you’re ready to restart the process. With every system, there comes a time that you’ll need to restart with fresh eyes, fresh energy, and a new focus. 

This is where it all comes together. You’ve worked through what went wrong before; you feel good about where you’re currently at; you’re reminded of the big picture; and you’ve set 2021 goals that feel relevant, achievable, and exciting. 

You’ve learned from your past and are better prepared for the future!

So take that knowledge and hit the ground running. 


Failing to achieve your goals is a common part of the journey to bettering ourselves. There’s a reason why 50% of americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 10% achieve them.

The key is to not see failures as failures; but instead as important learning experiences in the journey. 

If you want to best adapt and bounce back from failed NYE goals; just follow the 5 steps here to autopsy, stay positive, set new better goals, and restart again. 

Looking for support to make sure you hit those goals by the end of 2021? Try an accountability partner though an executive coach. These coaches are available to you to personally reflect, understand, and help guide you to the best possible outcome for your year.