Why it’s OK if you don’t reach your goal

We’ve talked a lot about goals in this podcast: the purpose and function of goals, how to set good ones, and how to pursue them more effectively, even your goal-setting personality! (If you don’t know yours, you can find out here.)

But in this episode, we want to talk about NOT reaching our goals–and why that is not necessarily a problem. 


Achievements in life are not only found by reaching our goals, the path provides plenty of achievements as well. And this is true even if we don’t succeed in our original goal.

If we only set goals we can reach, we run the risk of limiting ourselves. Keep your goals lofty.

Don’t confuse being passionate with being pigheaded. Sometimes switching your goal is the right thing to do. 

Crossing the finish line certainly feels good but don’t let it be the only time you feel pleasure, gratitude, pride or joy. Each step along the way is worth celebrating.

Lab Experiment

Signs that you’re switching goals for the right reason:

  1. You see that the original goal is sort of a dead end. A revised goal opens up a path for further growth beyond the initial goal.
  2. You find a goal that is better aligned with your values and priorities.
  3. You realize that achieving the original goal will cost more (time, energy, resources, relationships) than you realized or are willing to sacrifice.

Signs that you’re goal-dribbling:

  1. You decide to abandon a goal because you’re not making any progress – but you’re not actually taking any concrete steps.
  2. You abandon a goal because you don’t know how to achieve it.
  3. You think of a really cool goal that looks like it will be WAY easier and more fun to achieve