Want to accomplish your goals in 5 steps? Learn how to fail first!

3 Dec ‘20
3 min
Editorial Board OpenUp

With 2021 being around the corner, New year’s resolutions are a hot topic. Why are we so eager to set ourselves a goal at the end of December? And how do you make sure you stick to your New Year’s resolutions for the rest of the year? Jan Helder, psychologist at Open Up, discusses setting goals and maintaining them.


‘One could say that setting a goal is a form of self-care. They might be just as necessary as sleep, good food and pleasant social contacts: you need them to feel comfortable. A goal gives you a sense of progression and development, precisely what makes people feel good.

Nobody likes to spend day after day without accomplishing anything. But when we feel like we’re making progress, this brings us positive energy. Do you have ambitions for 2021? Or perhaps for today? Then it’s good to know that although different rules apply to mental goals than to organization’s economic goals, the basic principle stays the same. You can achieve a big ambitious goal by dividing it up into small, short-term goals. Think about where you could start tomorrow and get started. Do you feel that you are failing? Your small short-term goal is probably not small enough yet. Try to cut it down to an even smaller step’.


You can learn how to fail

‘You can’t achieve your big ambitious goal without setbacks along the way. That’s why it’s very important to not let it bring you down the moment something doesn’t succeed right away. Try to imagine that a dip doesn’t mean that you have failed. You may allow yourself to fail; see it as an inevitable part of your way forward. This way failing gets a neutral connotation instead of a negative one. Just as important: realize it is about your pace only. We live in a performance-driven society that imposes a time pressure that isn’t only murderous, but also probably doesn’t fit in with your own way of doing things. Therefore, learn to slow down. Decide for yourself what can be done now, what can be done later and what isn’t possible at all because you simply cannot influence it. With your own pace and kindness to yourself and failure, you can achieve so much more – including the goal you had in mind.’


Setting goals in 5 steps

  1. Start small and concrete With small ‘sub-goals’ you maintain an overview of the way to your goal – and makes it easier to be satisfied with your progress.

  2. Formulate the obstacles What keeps you from reaching your goal? Does that include things you could solve within the next hour? Which of the obstacles do you need help with?

  3. Visualize where you want to go Visualize your future self having achieved your goal. How are you and how do you feel? Does that image feed your motivation? Think about this image when you are facing a setback.

  4. Reflect on your progressIt isn’t always possible to quantify your goals. By taking time to consciously reflect on your goals, you can still take a look at where you are standing – and what there is still left to do.

  5. Share your goal with friends, family and colleagues Social support can help you feel less lonely. Moreover: helping others is often easier than putting yourself through and this goes for the people around you as well. Make use of that support and ask for help when needed to achieve your goals.

Do you feel there is something else that helps you to reduce stress? Or do you feel that the above tips don’t help you? Reach out to our psychologists via team@openup.care or book a consultation via the following link. Our psychologists are there to help.