How to stop being miserable – beating yourself up over goals?

Roger Federer could have retired many years ago, already considered the Greatest of all Time with 20 grand slams, why not…?

I don’t know the man, maybe he plays for the love of the game, or he enjoys destroying lower ranked players, who knows. Maybe he loves the adoring fans, standing up broadcasted worldwide winning knowing at that point, he is the best. Maybe he’s anxious of someone surpassing him in grand slam wins. But I’m quite sure when he turns up to Wimbledon, he doesn’t aim for the runner up – his goal is to win. If he loses, you can see his discontent with himself -and it is this dissatisfaction that drives him, and us in all that we do.

Goals are good, they drive us to improve, give us something tangible and an objective to aim for.

When we complete our goals, we feel amazing. All the hard work, the progress, having set yourself a target and reached it means a feeling of accomplishment engulfs us. Maybe it’s that degree you spent 3 years doing, maybe you ran 10k under an hour or maybe you simply got out of bed today before 9am.

However, what happens when we fail and we don’t meet our goals? Maybe you feel a bit like this;

(And its those type of shots that put the best back on the training court for another 100 hours and make his serve one of the best in the world– to satisfy that discontent. Lost to Nadal 3-0? Embarrassment, humiliation, that’s at least another 500 hours and a sacked coach and undoubted blow to mental health)

So what can we do about failed goals and the feeling bad that comes with it?

The first step is to realise what you are discontent about –reflect on what is making you upset – why are you being harsh on yourself.

Whatever goal you set that you ‘failed’ – firstly realise its in the past. Maybe you didn’t get a job and failed the final interview, sold 9 properties instead of 10, missed the deadline, came runner up at Wimbledon…

Its in the past, don’t get depressed over it.

Can you time travel ? No.

Can you do anything to change the result? Mmm maybe but unlikely, if you can you would have done it by now.

Yes it sucks, sorry to be straight up, you didn’t achieve what you aimed to do, but realise the past is irrevocably gone, the future is a dream, all we have is the present. 

The second step is to reflect on your own internal metrics that you’ve set , and are disappointed with. It’s great to have goals, metrics on what you set out to achieve, I’m all for it. However realise that it is your attachment to these goals, and desire to succeed which ultimately brings about unhappiness. Attachment and desire are also prevalent in other negative feelings such as loneliness, I’ve written an entire guide here about understanding and overcoming loneliness.

This is particularly hard if we are used to setting goals and achieving them. You’ve failed, you look like a fool having told all your friends (however this is also egotistical).

But if you’ve tried your best, what more can you do? Learn to be happy with what you have, where you are, who you are right this moment. You didn’t achieve your goal, but like many goals before this that you also didn’t achieve, it has gone , let it go-  if there is something you can do about it, then do it, otherwise the moment has gone – if you have another chance to go for it and keep pursuing or achieving that goal, go for it!!

Alternatively, let me know in the comments if you can time travel to change it. 🙂

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