Forgiving Yourself When Dreams Don’t Come True

Did you have a dream, a goal, for this year that didn’t happen? Maybe there was a big project you wanted to finish, or a personal goal you set that you fell short of. So you are probably feeling bad about the thing you didn’t achieve or the numbers that weren’t met. But this is all up to how you see it. You are the one who decides if you succeed or fail at a task. You decide what success or failure is when it comes to what you do in your life.

Here are some things to consider when you’re thinking about what you feel are your failures of the year:

  • Was the thing that happened really a failure? One of the things we most often criticize ourselves for is the breakup of a relationship. But that’s not always fair to ourselves. Relationships can break up for all kinds of reasons, many of them out of your control. Sometimes people just aren’t right for each other! If you’ve had a rough breakup this year, try to be gentle with yourself and remember that it isn’t all your fault.

  • Did you set a goal that was too high or unattainable? If you set higher goals than you can reasonably achieve, then it’s only natural that you won’t meet the goal. Did you set a goal of reading 100 books and now you know there’s no way you’ll get there? Maybe you should look back at how many books you’ve actually read over the past few years and set your new goal based on that. It’s not a real challenge if you set impossible standards for yourself.

  • It’s okay to fail. This is a hard one to face for some people. Our society is so devoted to, and obsessed with, success that we sometimes forget its twin, failure. Without failures, there are no successes. People sometimes pretend that they’ve never failed at anything but that is actually a terrible thing! If you’ve never failed at anything, that means you’re not trying to grow and change and stretch your abilities. Failure is how we learn.

  • Is this how you would treat a friend? Suppose a friend came to you, heartbroken over something they weren’t able to achieve. Chances are you wouldn't laugh at them and call them stupid or worthless. Then why would you do that to yourself? Do for yourself what you would for your friend. Forgive yourself, love yourself, and give yourself a little room to feel your feelings and grieve over where you missed the mark. Then put that failure aside so that you can focus on the new year and its new challenges.

Every day you are growing and changing, even if you don’t notice it. It is absolutely okay to fail at something, to not be excellent at whatever you try the first time out. Try to approach each new challenge with the mindset that, whatever happens, you will learn and grow from the experience. That can help you stop beating yourself up about the things you try that don’t succeed.

Photo by Hector Gomez on Unsplash