Safeguard Yourself from the 3 Reasons that Goals Fail

Safeguard Yourself from the 3 Reasons that Goals Fail

To set a goal is to focus your mind toward a reality that does not yet exist. It requires you to let go of the idea of yourself as you are now–it is an act requiring imagination and discipline.

Goals fail all the time. Let’s think about why, and consider how we can avoid the pitfalls en route to what we dream of achieving.

Reason #1: Motivation wanes

To set a goal is to focus your mind toward a reality that does not yet exist. It requires you to let go of the idea of yourself as you are now–it is an act requiring imagination and discipline.

Goals fail all the time. Let’s think about why, and consider how we can avoid failing to achieve the goals we dream of achieving.

Reason #1: Motivation wanes

The mind and body by default prefer to save energy, so this default needs to be overridden somehow if you plan to achieve a goal. That’s where motivation comes in–whatever the projected outcome is, it needs to be more enticing than the ease of staying the same, and/or the process needs to be…genuinely fun.

The less enjoyable the process, the more profound the achievement of the goal must be. For example, if I am going to suffer through a job I don’t enjoy, the salary needs to be high enough to keep me motivated. If the job is fantastic and I love it, the intrinsic motivation is strong, meaning I can tolerate lower pay.

Solution: my number one recommendation is to stick to goals whose processes you enjoy. The path to the goal is related to the goal itself. If you do not enjoy the path, you will not truly enjoy the achievement of the goal. If you want to one-arm handstand so badly, but you hate training handstands 10 hours a week, choose a different goal, because this one is probably holding you back from more rewarding paths.

If you want to be in alignment with your highest self and soul purpose, choose goals that feed you while you’re pursuing them, not just in the moment you achieve them. Let go of your fantasy of the outcome and fall in love with the process.


Reason #2: Clear goal, unclear structure

If you don’t have structure to follow, you can work really hard and end up with no results. For example, since 2018 my contortion practice has been haphazard. Have I still worked really hard when I did train? Yes…has my flexibility improved? Not really. In order for the hard work I put into my training to have any meaningful effect, it needs to be logical and consistent. Having a loose idea of what you want and no clear, detailed plan is only going to lead to wasted energy.

Solution: creating a structure to anchor your efforts to is what allows your hard work put toward your goal to be effective. When I have loose aspirations, I don’t get anywhere. But every time that I have followed the ebook The Aerialist’s Workbook, I have achieved my goals. Literally every time. The problem is that creating structures is really hard work for the brain. It takes energy, concentration, and time. This is why it was really intensive for me to write The Aerialist’s Workbook (applies to any apparatus), which provides structures for goal-setting and developing good training habits. It took a LOT of time and brain power to make this workbook, but now that I have it, I (and you!) can use it for any aerial goal.


Reason #3: The goal is not right for you

This was a discussion we had earlier in 2021 about failure. a critical question that came up was, how do you know if failure means you need to try harder or shift your strategy, and when it actually is trying to tell you that this path is not for you?

There isn’t a formula for answering this question, but aerialist Carmen Parcelli had a great point:

If you have put in ungodly amounts of preparation and still fail (maybe a couple of times), then I think that the lesson may be that whatever you are trying to do is not for you. Sometimes I have failed at things (most notably relationships) because deep down I knew they were really not right for me.


  • Did you REALLY try your hardest?
  • Did you REALLY prepare properly?
  • Do you REALLY want this with your whole heart?
  • Did you *honestly* put in ungodly amounts of preparation?

It could be that a goal is making you rigid, and so you’re being shut down until you discover what needs to be different.

Solution: think broadly about your desires in life, and make sure that your goals are not interfering with what your soul really wants. Imagine how it feels to have achieved the goal. Is it satisfying? Are you willing to maintain this goal? Where can you go from here? If you detect a shred of ego in your goal, it is possible that you don’t truly desire it. if your reasons are not deeply rooted in genuine inspiration and love, it is probably not important enough to you to work hard for.

In aerial and other creative movement arts, there is NO need to fixate on one goal. There are SO many amazing skills to be excited about. Don’t get mired in one that you’re not actually all that into!


Concluding thoughts

As you know, we tend to get more excited at the turn of the new year, which brings a fresh and exciting energy. There is a trap here, as that energy is temporary. To not get caught in the trap, you have to be able to build on the energy of the new year without being dependent on it. Your relationship with your goals needs to be strong and clear enough to persist well beyond January.

This brings me back to the first point: set things up in such a way that you love the process of achieving your goals. Set things up so that the moment of achievement is equally joyful to the journey that led up to it.


(mysterious scaffold project to be continued)

I wish you a new year full of play, connection, and creative inspiration. Keep up the hard work and continue to bring your beautiful energy to each moment.