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Lessons from Falling Short of a Goal

2013-06-01 10.10.41Late last fall I had a physical and found out that my LDL cholesterol was 175, 75 points higher than the top of the acceptable range.

As a result my Doctor recommended I take a LDL lowering drug. Instead I told him I wanted time to see if getting my health back in order would do the trick. So he gave me 6 months to see if I could move the LDL needle down.

So I set a stretch goal of lowering my LDL to 95 before my return visit. Then I created a plan which gave me the best chance to drop my LDL 80 points. Now 6 months later, having executed my plan to the best of my ability, I went back to the Doctor to learn if I achieved my goal.

And, as with many goals, I received both good news and bad news. The good news is I lowered my LDL by 53 points and the Doctor isn’t prescribing any medication. But the bad news is I’m still 27 points from my goal.

So I’m both satisfied and disappointed. Satisfied that my highest goal – taking no drugs has been temporarily avoided, disappointed because I didn’t reach my goal, all of which provides some important lessons about setting and missing  goals:

  1. Because we tend to perform up to but not beyond our goals, setting a stretch goal puts us farther down the road than we’d have gone had our goals been more conservative even if we fall short of our goal.
  2. It’s easy to be unrealistic in setting short –term goals (and to easy to be conservative in setting long-term ones).
  3. Even when we fall short of our goals there’s always residual benefits from good performance (lower weight, better sleeping, etc.).
  4. Just because we don’t achieve our goals by the date set it doesn’t mean they’re unachievable, it just means, if we stay resilient,  it’s only a matter of time before we cross the finish line.
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