How To Feel When You Don’t Keep Your Goals

By Celeste

What a great title to start out the new year, eh??  It’s January 8th, let’s just assume you’ve all failed in all of your New Year’s Resolutions by now.  If you’re still going strong, come back next week 😉
Just kidding. . .

I actually really love goals.  I LOVE making goals.  I love the feeling of having a plan.  I thrive making these plans.  I get out my little notebook; I make my little bullet points.  I solve all my problems with my goal plans.
Here’s my problem with goals:

I don’t generally keep them.

Wah-wah 🙁

I’ll keep them for a while and I’ll really want to keep it up, but I always fall short of my vision for myself.  I think this is quite normal actually, so here’s my bigger problem with goal making:

I struggle to know how to feel when I don’t keep my goals.

Should I feel guilty?  Should I drill sergeant myself?  “C’mon Celeste!  You can do better than that!  Get your lazy self up and work harder!!”

Should I let myself off the hook?  “Eh, that’s alright, you failed.  You’ll get ‘em next year.”

The problem I have with excusing myself is that it often leads to decreasing the importance of the goal in mind, which generally leads to giving up all together.

The problem with guilting myself into getting back on track is that it makes me feel rather crappy.  And when I feel crappy toward a goal, I generally don’t feel like keeping it.  (Not to mention when I feel crappy my life and marriage suffer.)

It’s a pickle.  One I run into almost daily.  The thing I really can’t figure out is, is my fault with being lazy or with feeling too guilty all the time???


Does guilt motivate?

So, when we fall short of our goals or feel like a failure should we berate ourselves?  Should we guilt ourselves into being motivated to do better?  Should we get out that inner voice that is always lurking under the surface of our thoughts?  You know the one that says, “You are so lazy!  No wonder your house is a mess.”  Or “You have no self-control.  You can’t help eating all the sweets in the house!”

No no no no!  Think about how you feel when you feel guilty.

Do you feel happy?  Motivated?  Inspired?  Free?

I don’t.  I feel discouraged, inadequate and helpless.

Time to get rid of the idea that we NEED to feel guilty to motivate ourselves.  Ignore those annoying fitness pins on Pinterest.  You know the ones with the people with the washboard abs that yell at you to guilt you into working out?  Ignore those.

So, how do we motivate ourselves?  How should we feel when we fail?

My friend Rachel gave the most helpful response to this question I’ve ever heard on a podcast she recorded called Unhealthy Stress or Habits?  Break the Cycle!  (Listen to it next time you’re doing dishes or driving in the car- it’s all about how to motivate yourself in healthy ways instead of unhealthy ways). She said:

Make the voice in your head your best friend’s voice.

Would your best friend tear you down saying things like, “You’re such a bad parent.  You’ll never stop yelling.”  Or “You are terrible at keeping goals- you’re going to fail soon anyway, may as well just give up.”

No way Jose!  (and if they would- time for a new best friend).

If you failed at your goal, your best friend would say, “That’s ok! Good job for having that goal!  I’m sure you’ll accomplish it in no time.” If you got off your healthy eating plan, they’d say, “Oh well, diets are so hard huh?  Guess we’d better just try again tomorrow.”

If you fail in keeping your house organized they’d say, “That’s alright.  My house is always a mess too.  I think most of us feel our house is a mess all the time anyway.  You’re not alone.  We’ve just got to do what we can.”

And when you feel run down and like you need a break would your best friend say, “No time for a break!  You have a husband to love!  Kids to play with!  A house to run!  Get up and get going!”?

Mine wouldn’t. Mine would say, “You take that break girlfriend!!  You deserve it!” (my best friend happens to be Oprah . . .)


“You take that break girlfriend”
Photo cred:  Salon
Make that inner voice the voice of your best friend (imaginary best friends are ok too).  Encouraging. Uplifting. Supportive. Loving. Forgiving.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Forgive yourself constantly and consistently. 

Here’s a little example:  One of my goals this year is to get up before my kids do and pray and read my scriptures.  Start the day off right with some mediation and centeredness and good feelings all around.

I failed in this goal this morning.  My three kids somehow all woke me up simultaneously displaying various stages of whining/crying/crisis-having.

The little voice in my head could have easily said, “Oh great.  The day is shot.  You failed.  No meditation.  No good feelings today.”  And then later in the day when I tried to make up for my failing by listening to audio scriptures while getting other things done my little voice could have said, “This doesn’t count!  You’re not even paying attention!!”  And then later in the day when I was watching a humorous television show the voice could have said, “What are you doing?!  You didn’t even read your scriptures today!  You should at least be watching/listening to something productive or worthwhile.  What about all those podcasts you’ve been saving?  You could be learning Portuguese!!”


Instead my best friend voice could have said, “Well shoot.  That darn alarm is so hard to wake up to!  But you did it most of the days this week – good for you for being so consistent!  You’ll get it tomorrow!”  And when I listened to audio scriptures, my little voice could have said, “Wow, way to not give up on your goal!”  And when I watched that humorous TV show, my best friend voice could have chuckled good-naturedly and said, “ Ha this show is so great. You have the best taste in worthless TV shows. And by the way you are killing it in those new sweat pant leggings! You’re the best!”

Ho ho, no Oprah voice- you’re the best!!


Transform that guilty voice in your head to your best friend voice.

Motivate with love and forgiveness not guilt.

Even though I know this, I still find that guilty voice creeping in my head more than I’d like.  Let’s make 2015 the year of healthy motivation!

How do you motivate yourself without guilt?

3 thoughts on “How To Feel When You Don’t Keep Your Goals

  1. I loved this. It is so important to extend grace to ourselves. Sometimes when I set goals I don’t realize how hard they really will be or how over committed I already am.

  2. I love this post celeste:) the best friend voice is such an obviously great way to motivate yourself that I have never thought of on my own. Killing it in the sweat pant leggings:)

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