Process Goals: How to bridge the learning gap through failure


You ever said this to yourself:

“I have to know one more thing before I’m ready… before I can move forward I have to figure it out.”

Does it feel like you can’t move past something if you don’t know how (and why) you got stuck in the situation in the first place?

Personally, I’ve been stuck in that insanity more times than I care to admit.

Yes, I bought all these books and tapes. Yes, I was scared to move forward. Yes, I felt incomplete.

And, yes, it was always just one more thing that was going to fix me. Then I could finally break free and get rich because I’d know the exact path to take and not make any mistakes along the way.

That I’d have a contingency plan for every possible thing that could ever (and would ever) happen.

Can you relate at all?

Well, I’ve gotta tell ya, it wasn’t until I gave myself permission to fail, that I started making real progress towards living my dreams.

See, because here’s the thing:

There’s always a difference between learning and successfully putting it into practical application, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the learning curve (at least that I’ve found).

So, here’s how I overcame it for the first time. I sat myself down and said,

“Yes, I still want to be a millionaire one day, but I’m not going to put pressure on THIS project having to get me there. Regardless if this project is a success or not, I’m still gonna see it through to the end. It doesn’t matter if I ever sell one copy. What I’m going to do right now is promise myself I won’t sell out on myself again!” 

I went through this process everyday.

The night before, I’d set a specific progress goal (not an outcome goal). A measurable goal about the specific things I was going to get done the next day, no matter what! I’d remind myself, it didn’t matter if the overall success outcome I wanted for the project happened or not.

All that mattered was I moved the ball down the field just like I promised myself I was going to do for that day.

Of course, the first few days I bit off way more than I could chew. I set myself up to fail because there simply wasn’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. However, I learned to set the kind of progress goals that set me up to win without being too easy on myself.

So first, it was,

“I’m going to sit down in front of my computer and write for 8 hours today even if it’s all shit and I trash it all.”

And then whatever I committed to the night before got done.

Each evening I looked at what I needed to do to progress forward what I decided to be an acceptable amount. Some days it was researching technical stuff. Sometimes it was web design. Sometimes it meant going through home study courses on something I needed to learn.

Whatever was the next logical step based on where I was and where I made up my mind I wanted to go that day is where the process took me.

Even though I had no knowledge (or proof) I could even do what I wanted, I still moved forward because I took the pressure off by giving myself permission to fail. Unknowingly, I was working to reprogram my beliefs and expectations enough that my self-concept said,

“I can figure this out. Other’s can do it… have done it… why not me? There has to be a way, I just have to find it!”

And that inched me up whatever I needed to conquer so I met my daily progress goals. I promised myself that I was going to honor my word to myself.

That was big.

So I wouldn’t allow myself to go to sleep until I completed whatever I promised myself I would. Sometimes, after a particularly hard day when I bit off more than I can chew and was setting the next day’s progress goals, I said,

“Wait a minute! I’m not going to get too ahead of myself. I’m going to set myself a smaller goal so I can design a winning feeling at the end of my day. I’m going to go to bed tomorrow feeling good about honoring the word to myself about what I was going to get done.

If I’d promised myself I was going to get something done, it got done. I wanted to feel good about my progress.

Soon, that became the only reason for doing it: To honor my word to myself and to feel good so I could go to bed happy & fulfilled.

That’s what giving yourself Permission To Fail means in my book.

Not putting pressure on the overall outcome for each of the smaller incremental daily pieces. It doesn’t matter if the big picture works or not. What does matter is you honor yourself by keeping the promises to yourself.

That’s how you set yourself up to win.

And, you know what? You start gaining momentum towards the tipping point: When the process eventually takes on a life all its own when you gather enough gravity.

Connecting the dots backwards in hindsight, now I see how giving myself PTF, relieved all this pressure I didn’t realize I was shouldering. I could move forward freely at my own pace based upon what I said I wanted to have happen in my life. I started living the I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying philosophy.

This is what’s missing. If you don’t handle this stuff, it doesn’t matter what self-improvement book you buy. It doesn’t matter what business building resource course you invest in.

It’s like painting over rust. It might look good for a second, but before you know it, it peels right off. You have to scrape down to the raw metal and then paint on it.

You start with, “What do I want?”

Then progress to, “If I want that, what’s my current level of belief? Where’s my seesaw set on that subject?” 

Then it’s just a matter of identifying the gaps between what you want and what you truly expect. Does it feel too big?

If so, that’s too big a jump.

In this case, simply ask yourself how can give yourself permission to fail and you ease your “negative” expectation just a bit?

What outcome oriented goal are you attached to that’s causing you angst? How can you shift away from what ultimate success looks like and instead shift your attention towards an incremental process on the path in between?

You don’t have to hoist the anchor all the way into your boat. Lift it just an inch and the current will begin to turn you downstream.

And, you know the cliche… com’mon say it wit me,

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch