Health Advocate Blog

What lessons did you learn when you failed to achieve a goal?

As part of Health Advocate’s Maintain, Don’t Gain campaign, many of our members aimed to maintain healthy habits–like maintaining weight, eating right, exercising, and reducing stress–leading up to, and lasting throughout, the holidays.

With the onset of the new year, many people have made creating, and working toward, new goals a priority. But successfully achieving a goal is difficult, and not everyone succeeds. Luckily, even if you don’t succeed at your goal, you can still learn important lessons from your experience. We asked some of our members who participated in the Maintain, Don’t Gain campaign what they learned from not achieving a goal. Here are a few of our favorite responses:

“Last year when I was exercising and eating right, I lost 27 pounds.  Then I fell out of my workout routine and kept rationalizing that I’d start again next week, then next month, etc. Then I was still 15 pounds under my original weight, then it was 10, then 5…and then I was back to my original weight.  When Maintain, Don’t Gain started, I had just started working out again and now have lost 8 pounds! I’ve learned that if I miss a day of workouts, or even a week due to after-work commitments, just get back to exercise and take it one day at a time.” –Richard

“The best thing I have learned from not meeting my goals is to try harder and focus on making that goal a habit, instead of just a one-time thing. Forming habits always helps me reach my goals, which I did not realize until I failed to meet a few goals in the past.” –Kristina

“I learned that I need to spend an extra 10 minutes a day at the gym in order to accomplish the goal I set.” –Jason

“I learned that I am not going to accomplish every goal I set; however, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. It means I should keep trying!” –Tammy

“A few years ago I set a large weight loss goal without setting in place plans to achieve it. It wasn’t an effective way to make it attainable.  So for 2015, I am setting a more realistic goal with clear plans in place that will help me be successful.” –Susan

“I avoided Christmas cookies from Thanksgiving until Christmas day.  Then I overate them.  One thing I learned is that one often leads to many.  So my new goal is to conquer the desire to overeat them by having a healthier snack instead.” –Kathy

“There have been so many times I have set a health goal and have not accomplished it. I have learned to set smaller, attainable goals and appreciate each small success…as I plan to do going into the new year!” –Alison

“If I don’t get to bed at a reasonable hour, I am less likely to get up early enough to get in a workout in the AM.  So…goal number 1 for me in 2015 is to set up a firm time for ‘lights out!’”  –Marina

“One of the goals I set for myself was to lose 15 pounds–and I did lose it, on a strict crash diet, but I quickly regained those pounds and a few more. Now, I am at my heaviest weight ever.  What I learned from this experience is that I must keep my goal and the reasons I chose to pursue it foremost in my mind so that when stress hits, I won’t turn to food, which is never the answer to any problem. I want to lose the 20+ pounds I gained and maintain a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising regularly so that I can live a more pain-free life.  I plan to use this knowledge to stay the course this year as I make better food choices and exercise to lose the weight so that I can then maintain my healthy weight in the future.  I also plan to make this my lifestyle and stick to it instead of seeing it as a goal to reach and stop once I’ve succeeded, only to return to a less desirable way of eating and an unhealthy weight.” –Shawna

“I have learned recently that if you fall off the wagon, get back on. It’s never over.” –Donald

“I’ve learned I often set goals too high, but I stay positive, keep moving forward, and acknowledge and appreciate what I did accomplish.” –Kelly

“A goal I set and didn’t accomplish was setting too high a standard for doing a project and getting it completed on time. What I learned was that you don’t have to achieve perfection every time you work on something. Often, good is sufficient; it doesn’t always have to be perfect.” –George

“When I don’t accomplish a goal I’ve set, I get bummed out about it. I think it’s better to remember how it feels to actually complete a goal, though. The sense of accomplishment is always a great motivator to keep pushing and doing better.” –Emily

“I have failed many times at my personal goals. Each time, I learn that you should never give up…starting over is a bad thing every time. If you just continue to move forward, you will reach your goals and find a new you along the way. I plan to stick with what I start from now on, my eyes always towards the finish line, not the start line.”  –Tammy

“Last year, I told myself that my goal was to lose 15 lbs. I did not meet that goal–I only lost 2 lbs. What I learned from this experience is that I need to really define my larger goals and set short-term goals to achieve them. If I had decided to lose 4 pounds every 3-4 months and written down exactly how I planned to lose the weight, then I could probably have met my goal. The next time I plan a goal for myself, I will plan better and be more detailed!” –Karen

Tweet us @HealthAdvocate and tell us what you learned when you didn’t achieve a goal!

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