How to set yourself up to fail

Life planning, Goal setting, action plans are fantastic ideas however time and time again I have seen people put these in place and beat themselves up because they don’t achieve their objectives.

It also has a major impact on your energy levels. Not only do you expend energy on fighting an uphill battle, the actual act of failing is a complete energy killer too. So setting yourself up to fail has some pretty hefty negative consequences.

And when you don’t achieve objectives that you set yourself how does it make you feel? Does it encourage you to continue to set goals for yourself? Unlikely.

How do you set yourself up to succeed instead of setting yourself up to fail?

  • Make your objective attractive.
  • Make your objective achievable.
  • Make your objective specific.
  • Eradicate YOUR own obstacles.
  • Make it personal – about YOU.

Make your objective attractive.

Eg: I want to get fit so I am going to go running is only good if you find running attractive. If you don’t think about a method you do find attractive like dancing, ice skating, boxing, walking. If it’s not attractive to you, you’ll either “force” yourself to do it and then give up when you get tired of banging your head against a brick wall, or you won’t do it al all. Result – FAIL!

Make your objective achievable.

Eg: I am going to do HIIT everyday for 30 minutes. If you’ve not exercised for a while this will probably kill you or at the least result in injury. Whilst it’s a great idea to attempt to do something on a daily basis as it’s easier for it to become a habit, this objective is a tad unrealistic. If you have never exercised why not try doing 10 minutes per day HIIT or 30 mins once per week. Make sure you know that it is something that will stretch you, but not be impossible. When you have achieved this objective on a regular basis you can then choose to increase it. Remember you can’t suddenly jump to the top of a mountain, you have to start at the bottom and progress by climbing upwards. Result – WIN.

Make your objective flexible.

eg: I am going to exercise for 30minutes every day. This is what I’d call a rigid objective, especially if you aren’t in the habit of exercising. What about I am going to exercise every day in one way or another, as a minimum I will do 60 sit ups, but only if you think this is achievable. Again by doing “something” daily the “something” will become a habit. Result – WIN,

Make your objective time/quantity specific.

eg: I’m going to keep on top of my admin ongoing. Ongoing usually means “when I remember”, then when you do remember your admin has piled up and then seems to be overwhelming so you then out it off until you have time, which if you procrastinate you never will. Instead you could schedule 30 minutes every Monday at 9am to tackle any admin. If you don’t have any to do one week, you can have the luxury of 30 minutes to do whatever else you want to. Result – WIN WIN!

Make your objective description specific.

Eg: I’m going to eat more healthily. What does “more healthily” mean? A more balance diet? What does “more balanced” mean? I’m going to give up sugar. That’s a choice but are you prepared to examine every single thing you eat and analyse the sugar content? Almost everything contains sugar. Do you know which sugars are OK and which aren’t? If you ideally want to cut out sugar from your diet, why not start with smaller more specific objectives and as they become ingrained as habits try to increase the size or number of them. So that your objective becomes: I am going to stop having biscuits in the house so that I can’t eat one before I’ve thought through the consequences. Or: I am always going to have an apple on me so that if I have a craving for something sweet I can manage the craving by eating an apple before I can pick up something full of sugar. Or: I can carry 30g of nuts on me so that if every I get really hungry or lack energy I can eat something that will satisfy my hunger and re-energise me without resorting to sugar. Make sure that these are possible. Result – WIN!

Give yourself options.

This is important if you get bored easily or if you like to make things fun. I am using the exercise example as it keeping physically fit seems to be an important objective to many of us at the moment. Instead of exercising or just running or going to the gym, mix it up. Try and find at least 7 different ways of keeping fit. Also if you find that you just don’t feel up to going to the gym or going out running stay at home and use a DVD or on-line exercise programs. What is both motivational and fun is getting a Skype exercise buddy and working out together whilst in your own homes. Result – WIN.

Eradicate your obstacles.

Eg: If you are trying to get fit, how many times have you stopped yourself from exercising because you haven’t got your kit on you, or it’s too much of an effort to get changed. Or you can’t go running because it’s too icy? News flash! You can exercise to a DVD, Youtube. You can exercise in your underwear. Change your method of exercise to suit your circumstances at the time. Result – WIN!

Customise your objective to suit you.

  • Find what motivates YOU
  • Find what is achievable by YOU
  • Find a method that suits YOU

You will never achieve something that you aren’t attracted to, that doesn’t interest you, that doesn’t motivate you in either a positive or negative way (ie: pain or reward). You’ll also unnecessarily expend or snuff out energy,

And even worse you will just give yourself the message “I am a failure” by continually setting yourself up to do so.

There is no need.

If you follow the process above and make your objectives personal, you don’t ever need to set yourself up to fail again.

YOU will learn more about yourself. YOU will progress, YOU will adopt more healthy habits, and YOU will win.


If you have a self-esteem issue try out a taster of “How not to kill your self-esteemor if your issue is with your energy levels, try a taster of “The Secret to Energy Building Program

If you prefer working 1-2-1, then contact me for a free Introductory Session.

I successfully coach clients worldwide, empowering them to win at life, at work and in their relationships. My straight-talking approach gets you where you need to be fast.  About that I am passionate.

If you prefer online programs check out the Win At Life Academy.