DEAR KRISTIN: I went into the summer with all these great expectations and lofty goals. Now that summer’s over, I’m faced with the realization that I didn’t meet even one of my goals. Not one.
I keep hearing that embracing our failures is the only way to really grow. This concerns me because even though I’ve fallen short of just about every goal I’ve set and struggled through more than my fair share of summer setbacks, I still feel like precisely the same person I’ve always been. I don’t feel like I’ve evolved or grown at all, which really stinks. I don’t want to crawl into fall feeling fear and self-loathing. I want to pick myself up and step into September with renewed confidence. Maybe you can take my hand and help guide me there? -- REFUSING TO CRAWL INTO FALL
DEAR CRAWL: You’re spot-on when you talk about failure. Embracing our setbacks and missteps is a wonderful way to promote positive change in our lives -- but you missed one important caveat: As long as we don’t keep repeating those mistakes. That’s where folks often get tripped up. The only way you can learn from failure is by reflecting on it with thoughtfulness and intention, analyzing the lessons you learned from it and then, finally, taking care not to repeat those missteps moving forward. Progress, not perfection.
Also, be careful with goal-setting. You mention that you fell short of all of your summer goals, but you didn’t mention what those goals were, which is a blessing of sorts because it allows me to speak not just to you specifically but to all of my readers in a more general sense: Make sure the goals you set for yourself are realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Don’t set a goal of scaling Mt. Everest by the end of August if you still can’t walk to your mailbox without getting winded. Do the prep work that is required to meet your goal. Make a timeline for yourself. Set your intention. And then the most important part of all: Follow up that intention with action. Intention by itself is not enough; action must follow.
Consider making a list of goals for the fall. Keep it simple, keep it short and make sure the goals are attainable. If you fall short, allow yourself the necessary luxury of reflecting upon WHY you fell short. Live within the lessons you’ve learned. Then try it again.
I love that you refuse to surrender to self-loathing. I love that you still want to fly into fall, even though your wings have been clipped by the setbacks you’ve suffered this summer.
Fly on, Beloved. Fly high. But chart your course with great care and intention. And if you get blown off-course -- and we ALL get blown off-course at some point -- understand that you have the power, the choice and the inner moral compass to get yourself back on track.
Do the prep work and kick the pity parties to the curb. Life is too short for self-doubt. You’ve got this.
Now go get it.