How Does Failure Help Shape our Goals?

Here we are, almost one full month into the new year. Most of us have got used to writing the numbers 18 instead of 17 when we scribble out the date and we’ve settled back into our everyday lives.  I wanted to give you something to read today that many of us think about but rarely put voice to.  Failure.

Now, why don’t we speak of it?   Is it because it’s a fear, or because we’re ashamed, maybe it’s because we always play it safe and don’t risk failing.  I’m sure you have seen famous quotes on failing from influential people in history, but how loudly did it speak to you?  I’m not famous and I don’t have a great quote for you.  I can tell you that I grew up believing that failure was not an option, ever, in any endeavor.  Some might see this as a bad thing, I view it as an alley.  Failure is not an option, so regardless of your goals, you must continue to work until you solve the problem and attain your goal.

In many of our blogs and videos, we talk about Goal Setting.  SMART Goals, Long Term Goals, WOD Goals, Life Goals.  We do this because goals help drive us.  They are the GPS that helps us navigate through our lives and you know who’s riding shotgun?  Failure.  It’s with us everywhere we go, sitting there f**king with the music, reading every sign we pass, always reminding us of its presence.  We will do everything in our power to keep it from messing up our trip and our plans.  And just like Mr. Klinger, my drivers ed instructor, we might not like them, but the person riding shotgun might be able to teach us a lot.

Now, the question that prompted this post was, “how do failures help us shape our goals?”

Let’s start by defining Failure.

The textbook definition is…


  • omission of occurrence or performance
  • lack of success
  • a falling short


These definitions are great, because they lack the emotional connection we have with Failure.  They don’t put a value on it, they just state the outcome.  This is important because of all the good that can come from falling short and will help us answer the question, “how do failures help us shape our goals?”

We set goals for what we want to accomplish or get.  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. When we fall short, we learn about our capacity.

“I didn’t achieve goal number __ because I didn’t have the capability at this time.”

It’s not the end of the world, I wasn’t ready for or able to handle whatever that goals was, now I’ve got more data to help me adjust my goal or to help focus my attention so I can increase my capacity.

Failure can teach us about what we can handle, both physically, mentally and emotionally.  Whether it an Open WOD or a relationship.  If you didn’t succeed with the goals you set, what did you succeed with?  That’s how much you can handle right now.  Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.  By setting a goal of handling more than you did before, you will be improving your abilities.

Failure also tests us to see how badly we really want something.  If you are willing to quit over your first adversity or “failure” you don’t really want it.  If the goal you set really means something to you, than you will be relentless in your pursuit.  Falling short won’t stop you, it will only give you time to find a better way to accomplish the task.

What I love about the definition of failure is that nowhere in it did I see the words “THE END”

When I’ve failed tests, I wasn’t immediately removed from the program, I came up short on the require knowledge, I wasn’t successful on the exam, I failed to meet the necessary requirements at that time. If I want to Pass, or move on, I better improve before next time.  Failure isn’t the end, it’s just a frame of reference that you still have more work to do before you can be successful.  So don’t be afraid of coming up short, use it as an opportunity to refocus your efforts, refine your goals and come back stronger.


book a
free intro

Talk with a coach about your goals, get the plan to achieve them.




Fill out the form below. Check your inbox shortly!