We start the year with such great intentions. We fill pages and Instagram posts with resolutions and thoughts about how this is the year our dreams will come true. As creative, go-getter, entrepreneurial women, we set lofty goals, we reach for big and brave things and expect ourselves to make them happen.

So what happens when your goals aren’t achieved? What happens when life, resistance and challenges come, and our loss column gains a few points?

When we set goals, we often forget that life is often unpredictable. She throws curveballs fast and strong, often knocking our dreams off course. Rarely do our dreams go the way we planned. Sure, some years we knock our resolutions out of the park. Join a gym? Check. Start a business? Done. Read ten books? Finished. However, some years our resolutions are met with resistance and they simply don’t come true.

Goals don’t come true for two reasons, either effort or circumstances. A lack of effort we can accept. If we didn’t sign up for the pilates, eat more veggies or drink more water, we can’t blame anyone else for our lack of health. If we don’t go to the library, set aside time to read or open a book, we know we are at fault for not scratching off reading on our goal list.

However, when circumstances are to blame for our failed goals, it stings like the dickens.

It’s painful, the mourning of a dream. It aches and feels like a real loss. It’s hard to feel excited and powerful when you are beat-down from a year of battling.

Because the same year you planned to double your sales growth, launch a new product, buy a house, write a book, go back to school, have a baby, start a business, etc, is also the same year that your husband loses his job, a grandmother unexpectedly passes away, a client demands a refund, sales are slower than expected, the adoption falls through and so much more. Suddenly, the goals you had so fiercely believed in seem silly, inconsequential or downright impossible. You feel like you are limping away from a war. And here is the truth – it’s hard to dream when you are just getting by.

So how do we forge ahead? If we have been let down and are feeling shaky on how to move forward as a dreamer and entrepreneur, these tools may help us.

First, we mourn. Listen, it is painful to not achieve a goal. Our family had planned and saved for a trip to Ireland for months. Pictures were printed off and placed on the fridge as a daily reminder to steward our money well. Then a pay-cut, family emergency and health crisis made our dream obsolete. For weeks, we mourned. It sounds silly, but when we have poured out effort and hope, it takes time to move on. When our years suffer a loss, we need to let ourselves be sad and grieve what didn’t happen.

Second, we wait for the dreaming to return. As entrepreneurs, it is easy to want to jump back into a large goal setting process. We think, “if this didn’t happen, then I will make something else just as great work!” But, maybe the best thing to do is to simply give ourselves some time and wait until we are filled with big ideas again. Not everything has to be goal driven, a fact we often forget. Wait. It will come back.

Third, when we do set new goals, we adjust our timelines. Sometimes, our goals need to die earlier in the year. However, we usually don’t set aside time to re-evaluate so we cling to unrealistic expectations that end up causing disappointment. Maybe we need to block off an afternoon once a quarter to check in and see how things are truly going. What can be adjusted or what needs to be taken off? We can also set resolutions that are more time sensitive. Instead of making huge plans for the year, our goals can be monthly. We can work to build our confidence back up by achieving regular progress.

Finally, in a year of wins and losses we have to look for grace. Grace for ourselves, grace for others, and the grace that Jesus pours out. Mitch Harper, a pastor in Franklin, Tx, said, “Grace is God’s literal kindness toward you” And as cheesy as it sounds to look for the silver lining, sometimes an unfulfilled goal is God’s grace. That Ireland trip? The money we saved ended up paying our living costs for the first few months of the year as we adjusted to a new job. Grace. While a trip to Ireland would have been wonderful, there was kindness there all along.

In a society that champions the idea of making things happen, we often are unprepared when the obstacles come and goals aren’t achieved. The truth is that each year will have wins and losses. The way we handle the losses matters, it makes us better goal setters and helps stir up gratitude for what went right. So if your year is going amazing and you are hitting every benchmark you set, I’m cheering you on. If you find yourself with some disappointments and unachieved dreams, you are not alone. I’m right there with you, owning the wins, mourning the losses, and beginning to find new dreams for the rest of the year.

Let’s tackle the losses together and keep pursuing the small victories, knowing it’s all grace.

It’s the end of the first quarter and things probably didn’t go as planned. What can you do now with the remainder of the year? How can you work to set yourself up for a great year?

Meredith Speer

Meredith is a writer and entrepreneur. Her days are spent running Bristol Lane, a floral and styling studio, whose work has been featured in numerous publications. You can regularly find Meredith working through a stack of library books or searching for the perfect salsa. She currently lives in Austin, TX with her husband.

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