How to Rescue Yourself from the Pit of Despair (aka Unmet Goals)

by | Jan 19, 2023 | 0 comments

Category: Business | Success

Welcome to the first of our “Dear BeastyBoss” series! Today’s Question is about unmet goals.

Dear Michelle,

When you make goals for your business/studio and you don’t hit those numbers, how do you stay motivated? I always feel in the “depths of despair” and it’s hard to come out of it. I keep beating myself up or questioning everything I’m doing.

~ Anonymous

Unmet Goals

Dear Anonymous Awesomesauce,

It sounds like we’ve got some layers of things going on here.

  1. You’re making numbers (which I think means sales?) goals! YAY!
  2. You’re not hitting numbers (revenue?) and that is stinky for you. You have an unmet goal. Boo!
  3. Because you perceive this as failure, your motivation shrinks. UH-OH!
  4. When your motivation shrinks, the sads come and you question and/or beat yourself up. MERP!

Oh, dear one!

It can indeed be frustrating to experience an unmet goal; to set a goal and then not reach it. And, in our perfectionism and productivity leaning culture it is HIGHLY tempting to take this as though we aren’t worth the paper the goals were printed on when they do not come to fruition.

Ultimately, you are asking how to stay motivated when the sads come – and I will get to that, I promise! Hear me out for a bit, though, because I think revisiting your relationship to goal setting will also help with this.

Marinate in this: Goals and success are not, in fact, mutually inclusive.

You can meet NONE of your goals and still be successful. Goals are there to have a desired outcome to reach for, plans are there to have something to veer from.

Goal setting that is more about the process, rather than outcome, is key. Solid goal setting starts with the plan… and it happens to be attached to a desired outcome. When a goal is ONLY a desired outcome, it’s much more difficult to manifest said outcome, and more difficult to figure out what went sideways if we don’t quite get there.

Here is the truth of it: Sometimes the plan gets you a desired outcome. Sometimes it does not. Or, sometimes, we state desired outcomes – and fail to plan, or we do not plan realistically. What is that saying? A goal without a plan is a wish? Something like that.

Having an unmet goal means something needs to be adjusted – especially if you’ve framed the goal as the desired outcome, rather than the process.

It doesn’t mean you’re a loser. Who taught you that? Who taught you that if you have unmet goals it somehow impacted your personal worth? Whoever it was, they were wrong and probably also had little clue on how to create and achieve their goals. #asshat

Successful Goal Setting in the First Place:

The good news is, you’re making goals! Excellent!

The other news is that you may not be making them effectively.

A few pragmatic questions for you:

  1. Was your goal a PROCESS goal?
    Was the goal to improve your sales knowledge and write a new sales sequence, test it, and revise as necessary for a solid six months? Or was the goal simply to “make more money”?
  2. If it was not a process goal, did you fail to make a plan?
    I know this question seems silly, but seriously… did you have real life, written on paper not just in your head, step by step plan? Be honest. If yes, and your plan wasn’t robust and detailed, maybe you need more precision.
  3. Was your plan based on things you could control?
    If you DID have a plan, go back and check how much of its being met was in your control and how much of it was out of your control. To my mind, this is what “achievable” means in the SMART goals rubric. Can YOU achieve it- not “can it happen as long as everyone else behaves properly”. Sales goals are great, yet if we are a humble salesperson, sales goals are difficult to meet because when all is said and done, we don’t like to use pushy tactics to MAKE people buy from us. The market is gonna market.
    Side Note: I loathe sales goals as primary goals just for this reason. Sure, they can be a helpful metric, and are great “icing on the cake” goals, if you can be unattached to that final number, but there are WAY TOO MANY variables that are outside the control of the goal setter without pushiness and potential asshattery.
    Don’t believe the hype: you cannot force people to say “yes” to purchasing from you. Define your goals around things you CAN control – like asking all the right questions in a sales call, or setting up a new sales process, or rewriting a sales page, but PLEASE, especially if you are still emotionally attached to outcomes, DO NOT create outcome goals that are based on someone else’s actions. Process, remember? YAY!
  4. How prepared were you to execute your plan at the start of your plan?
    For example, if your desired outcome was to double your revenue in 2022, did you have all the resources you needed to make that happen? When we set numbers goals, we need to be sure we have the time, marketing know how, emotional support, brain space, physical tools (like computers/mics/pianos/softwares), and business plan to back that up as we head into the goal, especially if we making the deadline to the goal in a short span of time. Which leads me to ⬇️
  5. Was your goal realistic for the time period you set?
    This is related to the preparation question… for everything that you had available to you in terms of resources, marketing, sales, business model and offers, etc. was your goal realistic for the time period you set?
    Again, if you wanted to double your revenue in 2022, yet your new pricing was pricing out every single current client, or you didn’t revamp your revenue streams and their pricing, or you decided to cut back on 1:1 work, or you have an iffy relationship with marketing and sales, perhaps doubling your revenue in a year was a bit of a stretch. Instead this could be a three year goal, and your one year goal could be to build your audience or learn how to market more effectively to your ideal client or revisit your ideal client profile.
  6. Why did your goal matter?
    The word motivation means the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    Why was it important for you to meet your revenue goal? Yes, another potentially silly question. This one is important though, because it allows us to see where we are limiting or over-expecting of ourselves. If the reason was to pay bills, well, that’s not enough. There were lots of ways to pay our bills. We can get a job at the local library, or Starbucks. You didn’t want that, though, so why did this goal matter to you?
    What did it mean for you to meet this goal? If your goal mattered because it was attached to your personal identity/ego, explore why.
  7. What happened in real life over the time span of your goal?
    What came up that was unexpected?
    • Did you get injured?
    • Was there a grief event?
    • How about a joy event?
    • Did you move across country?
      Examine what happened over the time period you set your goal for. If you set a goal for gaining six new clients in quarter four (Oct-Dec), had a plan to execute this, then Thanksgiving turned into getting stuck for three extra days in the airport and all your pipes burst in December, well… give yourself a break.

Motivation When Unmet Goals Leave Us in the Pit of Despair

Let’s assume everything about your goal making process is copacetic.

What do you do when those goals are unmet? How DOES one stay motivated?

Here’s where you get a dose of Michelle (remember you asked for this!):

I’ve got several thoughts, as always.

Here’s where you get a dose of Michelle (remember you asked for this!):

  1. Friend, you are taking your business WAY too personally.
    You aren’t alone, of course. And I am hugging you! Let me set you free:
    It is good and wise to release our identity from our studio/business. You are not your goals. You are not your studio. You run and own your studio. You set your goals.
  2. Friend, please don’t should on yourself.
    My guess is that you believe there are certain things you should be able to accomplish. Certain things that you should do. And if you do not do those things, it means something negative about yourself. I’d love for you to check your self-talk. Is the narrative you have in your self-talk full of empowering thoughts and words, of self-trust, and of belief that it will work out? Why or why not?
  3. Friend, motivation is connected to reasons – your BIG WHY got a little lost. Cliché, yes. Annoyingly True? Also yes.
    By “Big Why”, again, I don’t mean “pay your bills.” I mean what impact you are wanting to have in the world with your business? Why did you bother starting it at all? If your only reason for starting your business was to make money, that’s fine, but voice teaching isn’t always the best industry to do that in. I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO GIVE UP! I am gently nudging you back to yourself. 💛
  4. Friend, feel the feels, get in the sads, then get up, shake it off, and back at it.
    No, really, literally shake your body around. Our bodies are so smart. They hold our emotional energy in the most interesting of places. Shoulders, chest, legs, obliques, etc. Close your eyes and center in on what you feel in your body when you are in the sads. Move this part of your body, or if it’s like your earball, shake your arms out. Hum deep. Groan. Move that energy through your body instead of ignoring it or pretending it’s not there – don’t “try to be stoic” – do be strong enough to feel it!
  5. Learning over loathing – reframing failure is essential.
    The desire to be perfect is a defensive mechanism against shame. Failure isn’t shameful. On the contrary, failure is the quickest way to figure out what actually works! It’s a shortcut to success, because it requires risk and the willingness to look foolish for the sake of learning what needs to be done. If failure IS shameful for you, please, get thee to therapy! Because there’s probably some self esteem stuff that needs to be worked out. (Like all of us!)
  6. You stated “I keep beating myself up or questioning everything I’m doing.”
    I do not like the beating up part. However, I think you’re on to something with the questioning. Let’s be sure they are the right questions.
    1. Does your price point align with your sales process?Is your ideal client clear to you?Does your copy and messaging clearly point out what transformations you bring and your process around these transformations?Are you offering what your ideal client wants or what you want to sell? (Hint: sometimes they are different, eh?)Do you have an actual marketing plan with specific campaigns?
    These are good questions to ask… if the questions are “why do I suck?” or “what’s wrong with me?” that’s not so helpful.
  7. Successful business is also about LUCK.
    You know what, your unmet goals may have absolutely nothing to do with you. People are weird, the market is weird, economics is weird. Sure, we can do our best, but sometimes the market is just down. Sometimes, people want to revenge spend on vacations instead of voice lessons or money coaching or body work. Sometimes, people just didn’t see your ad, or feel like taking another course. It could be just a run of bad luck – nothing you could have done anyway.


Owning a business is TOUGH. It’s a special kind of stress that we accept into our lives when we choose this life. Having a realistic understanding of this is one way that we can stay motivated when we have unmet goals.

To be a business owner is to constantly manage unmet goals so that we can discover where we can refine future goals.

It’s about being neutral in the face of mistakes and joyous in the face of successes.

It’s about problem solving a situation, not you being a problem.

Let me know if this was helpful for you! I’d like to know if I failed to meet my goal of writing a thorough blog about unmet goals, so that if I DID fail, I can learn and write another!

All My BeastyBoss,

Michelle Markwart Deveaux blog signature
Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Michelle Markwart Deveaux (124)

As CEO of FaithCultureKiss Studios, LLC, I lead underestimated humans through the personal and professional development needed to create successful solo and team-based businesses.

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