Like many of you who read this blog, my dream is to quit my full-time job so I can focus on running my own business instead.
In case you missed it, I shared with you my plans for quitting my job gracefully and without burning bridges in my first post here on Careful Cents. I even publicly announced my goal to leave my full-time job on June 1, 2015.
Unfortunately I’ve had a few setbacks since then. I had to make a few repairs and upgrades to my home that I was not planning on shelling out for this year. Paying for these expensive projects has delayed my financial progress for paying off debt and increasing my savings. Because of this, it has also delayed the timeline for quitting my full-time job.
1. Accept that it’s OK to fail
As a very competitive and driven person, this fact was tough for me to accept when I first realized in late-March that I was not going to meet my goal of quitting by June 1.
I don’t like to set goals I can’t meet. And I hated it even more that I shared this big, hairy, audacious goal so publicly and that I would now have to share my failure with you too.
But I’ve learned that failures like these are not only okay, they are actually a great thing to experience now and then.
Why? Because at least I know I’m pushing myself and not setting goals that are so easy to obtain that they are meaningless. Instead I’m setting goals that make me work hard and expand my business beyond the edges of my comfort zone.
One piece of advice I picked up from an inspirational book I read years ago is that your comfort zone is not static. It is always growing or constricting depending on your actions. If you aren’t constantly setting goals just beyond your reach, your comfort zone will shrink.
When you inevitably fail, a goal you’ve set just beyond your reach (it will happen from time to time, trust me!) there are a few things you should do to help yourself out next time.
2. Figure out why you failed
Did you fail to reach your goal because you lost motivation? Did you fail because you weren’t really committed or passionate about it? Did you fail because you set your goal just beyond your reach?
If you failed for either of the first two reasons you probably shouldn’t have set the goal in the first place. Examine why you set the goal and why you failed to reach it. Perhaps you only set your goal because you were following a trend. (I’ve definitely been guilty of this one.)
For example, I decided to do a shopping ban and I failed miserably because my heart wasn’t in it. I only set the goal because I felt like I should to please other people.
But if the only reason you didn’t reach your goal is because you set it just beyond your reach then failing might just be better than if you had achieved your goal. Think about it. After we reach our goals we tend to slow our progress down significantly.
So what if you didn’t reach your goal for how much debt to pay off or when to quit your job. You still made significant progress in trying to reach that goal and are much further ahead than you would be if you hadn’t set that goal at all.
3. Hit the reset button
Once you figure out why you failed and where your heart truly lies, it’s time to reset your goal.
Every time I fail at a goal I learn more about myself and my abilities, so I’m able to set better goals for the future. For instance, I now know more about how much monthly freelance income it’ll take for me to feel comfortable quitting my full-time job.
I also learned more about how long it will take for me to hit that goal number while I’m still working full-time. I even discovered that without a change to my client list and business model, I won’t be able to hit that number before quitting my full-time job — because I can’t work enough hours in the evenings and weekends to get there without seeking higher paying jobs or raising my rates.
With all of this in mind, I reset my goal for quitting my full-time job to be by the end of the year, December 31, 2015.
4. Choose a new timeline
How did I come up with this date for my goal? I decided to have a business date with myself, like Carrie suggests, to look back at my past progress and I took a hard look at my spending and budget. I wanted to see how long it would take me to pay off my recent expenditures and re-build to a point where I’d be comfortable leaving my steady paycheck behind.
I also spent some time talking to my business mentors (like Carrie and Cat), about my fears, my apprehension, and my goals. Without their encouragement there’s no way I’d be setting such audacious goals for myself and my business.
Even if your big, hairy, audacious goal isn’t quitting your job to work for yourself, you can still use these steps to figure out why you failed and where to go next with your business or personal goals.
Have you ever failed at a big, hairy, audacious goal? What did you do after you failed?