Any goal worth working towards is going to have its fair share of obstacles and setbacks.  If you’re trying to make a big lifestyle change or cut a bad habit out of your life, chances are that you will not immediately succeed.  Temporary failure is a normal occurrence on the path to success, but unfortunately, we often see failure as a sign that our goals are unattainable.  The truth is that there is a lesson to be learned from each time we are forced to pick ourselves up and try again, and by learning from our failures we can renew our motivation and create lasting positive life change.

Reconsider Your Strategy

Having a setback on your way to success might mean it is time to look at how you are approaching the problem.  Some major lifestyle changes require that you seek help from knowledgeable and supportive resources that have experience in helping people reach their goals.  Without the right tools, making a dramatic change or kicking a bad habit such as addiction can feel impossible. Asking for help does not make you weak or incapable, but is actually a savvy strategy for attacking your problem from all sides so that it doesn’t stand a chance.  It’s okay if you tried to make a change on your own the first time around, but when it becomes clear that reaching your goal is going to be more of a challenge than you anticipated, it is time to enlist expert help.

Focus on What You Can Change

Failure can make you feel powerless and overwhelmed, not knowing how to pick up the pieces of your life and start again.  When it comes time to start over, begin by focusing on the aspects of your life you can control. Too often we are bogged down by the weight of people and situations that we are unable to change, and we become stagnant and unmotivated.  While there will always be forces in life out of your control, there are also many powerful ways in which you can create change right now. For example, you have the power to make healthy choices, and you can begin this very moment. Choose to be more active and make better food choices, and you will be fueling your body and mind in a way that supports positive change in all aspects of your life. 

Be Kind to Yourself

One of the biggest challenges of overcoming failure is learning not to beat yourself up every time you don’t accomplish a goal you set for yourself.  While it is important to hold yourself accountable for your actions and take responsibility when you slip up, it is equally as crucial to your success that you don’t succumb to negative thought patterns and overly harsh self-criticism.  Studies have shown that excessive amounts of guilt and shame can hinder growth and development, and make failure more likely to occur again. Try to practice compassion with yourself in the face of failure. It can help to treat yourself like you would treat a good friend going through the same situation, and offer yourself words of encouragement instead of bereavement. 

Consider Your Support Team

Failure is a good time to take a look around at the people in your life who have an influence on your behavior.  When you are setting out to make a big change or accomplish a heavy goal, you may not be able to hold on to the people in your life that interfered with you achieving that goal in the past.  For example, if you want to quit drinking, you may have to distance yourself from drinking buddies and other heavy drinkers in your life, as well as those that tell you that you won’t succeed.  Surround yourself with friends and family that love and support you by showing that they understand your goal is a priority in your life, and who encourage you to stay on track and make better choices going forward.

Look for Inspiration

When you have fallen off the wagon time and time again on the road to accomplishing your goal, one of the best strategies you can use to change the outcome of your efforts is to look for a model of success in someone you admire.  By finding a mentor or sponsor that has been through the same struggle and successfully made it out the other side, you can count on their advice and input to keep you in line and motivate you to keep going. Anyone who has truly achieved lasting success at making a major life change will tell you that they too struggled with failure, and through that failure, they gathered the tools they needed to reach their goal.  You too can turn your failures into valuable lessons and create a better life.


At Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals ready to coach each client through the 12-steps and beyond.  By structuring treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders, Burning Tree facilitates an environment of healing and holistic wellness.  Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives through high accountability and life skills that foster lasting sobriety. We specialize in treatment for the chronic relapser and believe that with the right tools, you can put an end to the cycle of addiction. For more information on how we can help, call us now at 866-287-2877.

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