Let’s talk about goals. When I ran cross country in high school, I dreamed of running in the state meet at the end of the season. The reality? While senior year I was co-captain of the team, performance wise, I was mediocre at best.  Did this make me give up? No way Jose! But assessing the reality of my physical abilities helped me come back from personal set back and succeed in my own way senior year. The same thought process can be applied to our work lives as well as personal. What we learn when we do not reach our goals is experience, and while it may not be the result we wanted, can help change the game next time. Here are some tips on how to bounce back from a perceived failure in your personal or professional lives:

Just because it didn’t work out, doesn’t mean you didn’t gain anything valuable.
“Failure” gives us experience; the trick is seeing what you achieved. For example: Let’s say you learn a professional skill during a layoff period and master it. When you interview you are confident and prepared, but do not get the position for one reason or another. You didn’t reach your goal, but you did learn something entirely new that will be useful in ways you may not know yet. As Steve Jobs put it,”You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Take an educated guess
Now that you are firmly back on your feet, eating well, and getting the proper amount of sleep, it’s time to move forward with an educated plan. Setting SMART goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) allow you to asses where you were, and where you would like to go in an organized fashion. This way, you have benchmarks and check-ins with yourself, your friends, your team and your manager to make sure you are on track with what you need/want to accomplish. You will also be able to see for yourself mid-project what is working and what is not before you’re entirely finished with the task and are able to do the best with what you know. In the end that’s all that you can do, and how others react is completely out of your control. Do not forget this.

Keep swinging that bat
Even with benchmark checking, and attitude/ behavior adjustments, we may not always succeed after we change our plan, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t on the right track. According to an article in Forbes.com, “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about two-thirds of all start-ups live to see their second birthdays, and just 45% make it to their fourth. What separates the best from the rest is the strength to get back up, again and again.” This strategy holds true in all areas of our lives. For example: at work we have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals we set out to accomplish. On occasion, even with careful planning, benchmarks and realistic goal setting we don’t succeed because of unforeseen challenges or the timeline was shorter than expected. But keep going. As my dad would say, “Keep swinging that bat Elyse! You’re bound to hit something!”

What are your goals? How have you bounced back? Every situation is unique, and strategies may vary, but if you give your best effort and fail it is always much greater than not trying at all.