Like many of you, I set goals for myself every year. I usually hit most of them, and celebrating those wins is so fun. But every year, there’s also at least one goal that gets missed.

So if you’re here at the end of 2017, and all you can see is the inevitable failure of not reaching a goal you set for yourself almost a year ago, I’d like to give you four questions to ask so you can turn this failure into growth. (Fellow John Maxwell readers know this concept of “failing forward” well!)

But before we dig in, can I just take a second to remind you of one of my favorite Dave Ramsey truth bombs?

“Success is just a pile of failure that you are standing on.”

Failure is a package deal with winning. You won’t win every time. Every idea won’t be your best. The timing won’t always be right. Something unexpected will derail your best efforts.

But the only way you really lose…is if you fail to learn from your mistakes. If you pretend it never happened. Or if you give up because it didn’t work on your first try.

So here are the four questions to ask when you miss the goal:

  • What did I learn?

Find the good. Even if you set a goal for yourself that was unrealistic and you didn’t even come close to achieving it, there has to be something good that you can glean from this experience.

Example: I made a knee-jerk hire once. It wasn’t a good fit, and I knew it almost immediately. But I needed the help, so I did it anyway. Long story short, it ended in a fiery explosion.

But guess who has a killer hiring process now? And who will never, ever rush into hiring rashly again, no matter how many deadlines are staring me in the face?

This girl.

I gained a valuable lesson from that failure. And as difficult as it was, I wouldn’t change it because of what I gained in experience.

  • What can I do better next time?

This is not permission to blame; this is an opportunity to take ownership. Our pride may not like it, but it’s so important that we take the time to take responsibility for what went wrong.

Did I set the wrong goal altogether?

Were my timelines off?

Did I utilize the right tools?

Was the right team in place?

Did I put the right amount of effort in?

Honesty is the only way we can progress, and it begins with being honest with ourselves.

  • Why did I set this goal in the first place?

Moment of truth time. This question determines whether or not the goal gets a second attempt. So take yourself back to the why.  If you are still passionate about the purpose of what the goal accomplishes, it’s worth another attempt, even if you have to tweak it a bit.

Now, there are some goals that you should gladly ditch. Rid yourself of any goals that only benefit you. Life is too short. There’s no time for that.

As John Addison put it, “The difference between a dream and a scheme is that dreams benefit many; schemes benefit one.”

So scratch the schemes. Keep chasing the dreams!

  • What’s my next step?

Try again, or set a better goal. Those are the two end results of this question.

Here’s the thing about failure. The longer you sit on your failure without action, the harder it is to get moving again.

Remember what the cover of the swHw business tracker says: keep my hustle holy. We don’t have time to sit idly by when God has planted a purpose in our hearts. We’ll never execute perfectly, but His purpose for us IS perfect. We never have to doubt that!

Failure leaves us with a choice: we can allow ourselves to have a breakdown, or we can work toward a breakthrough.

Who’s going to be using these questions this month? Feel free to share this blog with others that you think will benefit from it!