The one way to FAIL at your goals…

Credits: Adam Sandler- Billy Madison

Credits: Adam Sandler- Billy Madison

There are tons of ways to achieve your goals. I don’t think it is a lack of information, we all know what to do. In fact, I can do without hearing any more people touting off about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. It’s like they came up with the acronym or something.

This is about how to FAIL. We as a society know more about failing anyway, so shouldn’t’ we learn to avoid the mentality that happens and why we FAIL?

I’m under the belief that more games are lost than they are won.

Here’s how to fail…

As a professor, every semester during the first few days, I was adamant in communicating that if a student  showed up to class, they would get no worse than a “B.” All bets were off however if they missed even one class. I was not giving away grades, I was just demonstrating that tenacity is more important than talent, and if someone showed the discipline to show up to every class, then they were eager enough to learn and make it happen.

When 9/11 occurred, I was a graduate student at Temple University and they did not even close the school (imagine that). The professor did not cancel the evening class either, so I showed up. I was with two others. I felt so fortunate to be in graduate school, that I made the commitment to do whatever it took to thrive.

A funny thing happened as a professor though when my students would eventually miss a class. They would miss another! I was so keen on this phenomenon of people who missed one class that I kept track of it. Only about 20% of the time did a person only miss one class. 

Here’s how to fail at your goals…

The way to fail is to say “screw it, I blew it.” However, this mentality is pervasive, check out health club attendance in January and then in March. Over 50% of people drop out within 6 weeks. Once they miss once, they miss again…

If we give in or go through the motions it actually makes it easier to do it again. Quitting has now become an option for us.  The science behind this one mistake or lapse is abstinence violation effect.  All it takes is that one mistake or slip up and the mentality becomes “screw it, I blew it.”

The shame and guilt of messing up hurts a lot. It often hurts worse than quitting because when we quit, we don’t have to keep returning to the scene of the crime. There are no more painful reminders and we can move on. Hence, the “screw it”.  The sad part is that we aren’t quitting on ourselves, we are quitting on who we want to become.

How would you explain your vacation to California if you got a flat tire on the way there, so you turned around and headed back home?

It’s not about the setback, its about the comeback.The one workout you missed or one piece of cake that you ate does not define you. If you miss, it’s how you respond to the setback. Can you learn from it and approach your goals with an even stronger resolve and enthusiasm?

Mental Toughness is NOT about messing up, it’s about not giving up. When the thought or option of giving up enters, it is an impostor trying to derail you. Move on from the mistake, change the tire, and just keep going.

But this post isn’t about mental toughness it is about how to fail.


Dr. Rob Bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

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Dr. Rob Bell

Ahoy! I'm Dr. Rob Bell. Your Mental Toughness coach. Be The BEST at Getting BETTER. Will your Hinge connect?
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