How To Decide When To Give Up On A Goal And When To Recommit

Looking for goal-setting tips you haven't heard before? Not sure if your goals are unrealistic? Read on for 3 tips that will help you achieve your goals (or abandon them!)
“Well. I’m clearly bad at this and I was wrong to even try and the answer is to GIVE UP IMMEDIATELY.”

If you’ve ever muttered this to yourself, to your partner, to your cat – congratulations! You are human and you have a human brain!

Figuring out which goals to pursue, how to pursue them, deciding if the goals we’re setting are challenging-in-a-good-way or challenging-in-an-unrealistic-and-self-sabotaging-way … these are the million dollars questions.

Below I’m going to share three of my learned-the-hard-way tips for goal-setting and figuring out when to move on and when to re-commit.

How To Decide When To Give Up On A Goal

Objectively examine how hard you’ve tried to achieve this goal

Good news/bad news: most of our brains WILDLY over-estimate the “good” things we do and WILDLY underestimate the … less-awesome things we do.

We think we’re drinking enough water, but we actually drink two glasses a day. We don’t think we spend much time on Instagram, but if we checked the Moment app, we’d see we actually spend three hours a day scrolling and tapping ‘like.’

The reason I say this is also good news? If I think I’ve been lifting weights regularly and I’m frustrated with my lack of progress and I discover that I’ve actually only been lifting weights twice a week? Welp, that solves the mystery, right?

You don’t have to get frustrated and give up if you realize you haven’t actually been trying that hard!

Think about why you wanted to pursue this goal in the first place

Remember that time I spent $18,000 and 1.5 years getting a Master’s degree because lots of my friends were doing it and, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do with my life? Going to grad school because you don’t know what else to do is peak Pursuing A Goal For The Wrong Reasons.

If you get really honest with yourself and come to the conclusion that you were going after this goal for approval, social cache, etc, GIVE UP ON THAT ISH. 

A few questions that will help you figure out if you’re pursuing a goal for the right reasons: 

  • Have other people in my life pursued/accomplished something similar? And have I subconsciously absorbed the idea that I should accomplish this same goal?
  • Is this an accomplishment that I see portrayed + celebrated in movies, tv, books, etc? 
  • How do I think my life will be different if I achieve this? 
  • Can I feel the way I want to feel or get the things I want to get WITHOUT achieving this specific goal? 

Look at the support, tools, information, and accountability you’ve been accessing

Fun fact: I spent much of my 20s trying to trick myself into running a 5k. But my “training method” (read: plodding along the same route whenever I remembered to run) didn’t really work. Quelle surprise!

Then I found an all-women, adventure 5k with an email training program. I had a race day to train towards and a specific plan that I could reference every day. Low and behold, I followed my training plan, showed up prepared and excited for the race, and came in second in my heat!

So before you give up on a goal, look at the support you have around that goal. If you’ve kept your goal a secret and read, like, one listicle about the topic no wonder you’ve struggled.

Some things that might help you not give up on your goal: 

  • Tell people about it – you’ll create accountability buddies!
  • Use some sort of tracking tool so you can see how often you’re putting in the work – an app or even just a paper tracker! (As a head’s up: phone use is a procrastination trigger for many of us, so be aware that using a phone-based tracking app might quickly turn into 20 minutes of Instagram scrolling).
  • Take a course or program that relates to your goal (I’ve been using Kate Eskuri’s workbooks that were included in that $75 self-development ecourse bundle I was part of and can highly recommend them!)
  • Sign up for something with a deadline – a writing contest, a grant, a half-marathon, a tour through a Spanish speaking country.

What do you think – do you have more insight into your goals + which ones are the right fit for you? If you can objectively examine your efforts, get honest about your ‘why’, and get the right kind of support for your goals, you’ll be so much more likely to achieve them!

P.S. Want 1:1 support around your goals? I’ve got a few openings in my coaching calendar for this month! You can learn more here.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

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  1. Amy

    I think the intent behind goals matters a lot. Are you doing it for yourself? Or for other reasons? If not for yourself, don’t feel guilty about letting it go.

    • NZ Muse

      Yessss! Sometimes, letting go is success, NOT failure. For example, I thought I wanted to be the kind of person who ran long distance – but deep down, I don’t and I’m not.

      • Sarah Von Bargen

        Good for you for figuring this out!!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! It’s something not enough of us think about. <3

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