How to Deal with Goals You Don’t Reach

work-failure-2The winner for the Happy at Work Action Day contest is in. S/he will be announced at the end of this blog post.

I have a confession.

I wanted Happy at Work Action Day to be a big/huge/life changing success. I wanted hundreds of people to join in. Over 70% of office worker are unhappy. An easy win. Right?

This contest didn’t quite work out that way. I’ve been waiting and hoping that people would write in before I declared the winner, but it’s been two months and no companies have written in about their participation.

I feel like a failure.

The whole point of the action day was to get a whole bunch of people involved. I’m so passionate about work happiness that there are some days when I feel like I’m crawling out of my own skin. I just want to keep making work happiness the number one topic of all business conferences, meetings, and values.

There are some days when I’m working so hard that I feel like crying. My wife is in bed and I keep plugging away, just hoping to reach a few more people. I’m exhausted, but I can’t stop.

Now that I got that off my chest, it’s time to look at the positive.

7 Blogs linked back to the Happy at Work Action Day page.

They are:

– Evolve Beings

Creative Chronicles

– GeekUniversalis

Stacey Shipman

– Jungle of Life

– The Bold Life


I want to thank them for participating. Without these blogs I wouldn’t be trying this again next year.

Yes, I will try this again. I’m not giving up that easily. I expect to entice 25 people to join in the Happy at Work Action Day in 2010.

Now if I’m on my 5th year and I don’t see much growth then maybe I’ll quit, but that 4 cycles away.

So I could really use your feedback. What worked/didn’t work about Happy at Work Action Day? How come you didn’t join in? How can it be improved for 2010?

Dealing With Failure

I know all of you have been in a position in which you wanted something really bad and failed. Maybe you applied to a great college and got rejected, you were fired from a job, started a project and it flopped, or wanted to go out with someone you had a crush on and it never happened.

You felt crushed, sad, maybe even pissed off.

This is good because if you didn’t care about the outcome, then you didn’t care about the project.

Here are the three steps that I use to deal with my failure and overcome it.


So you failed; don’t just move on to the next thing. By ignoring your feelings you are missing vital information that will help you. Take notes on your feelings.

Ask yourself:

How do I feel?

I feel a little empty and unpopular. I know that the Work Happy cause isn’t about popularity. I was just hoping that everyone I supported would support me back.

Why am I so hurt?

I felt hurt because I couldn’t get more people to join in. I wanted to be able to write back on this blog about how 112 blogs linked to me and 15 people wrote about how they applied the 4 rules to their work day and how wonderful it made them feel.

What did I do wrong?

I should have made the day more enticing. I didn’t give away any physical prizes that people could actually hold, like an HD Flip camera. Sometimes people need to have a tangible reason to want to help – although it would be nice if people joined in for the intrinsic value alone.

What went right?

I was given support by some great friends. They rallied behind my cause and helped reach new people. I also learned that making anything too complicated will scare people away.

Too many people forget the importance of reflection. We need to look at what went wrong, right and how to make it better next time.


Now that you know what went wrong, you need to figure out how to adjust for next time.

What do I need to do better next time?

I think that I need to make the day more about fun and other people. Very few people want to go up to a person and share a compliment because it’s Happy at Work Action Day. People want to play games and interact with each other.

I also think that the day was a little too broad. I need to give people more tools to participate. I can write a couple of posts about creating games and ways of rewarding each other.

By taking some time to adjust for the next project, you can get your creative juices flowing again. We need to kick start this motivation early, so we don’t lapse further into “I’m a loser and I shouldn’t have tried this in the first place” syndrome.

Make it Better Next Time

Once you know how you will adjust to your failure you can start planning to make the next attempt even bigger and better. I was afraid to give away prizes this first year because of the learning curve. What if the project failed after I had put $500 of my own money into it?

This was a poor way of looking at my project. I was setting myself up for a weak first year launch. I limited myself by not believing that it would be a success.

It taught me the value of really believing in what I’m trying to do. In order to make my goal a reality, I have to focus my mind on success. I can’t let myself believe that the first year won’t succeed.

I may not have reached all my goals, but I believe that I would have had more people on board with the action day, if I had offered more incentives to participate.

Reaching Your Goals

You must always be aware of how you are limiting yourself. Are you applying for the job and expecting to get it, or just giving it 80% effort? By not putting all of your effort into your project, you are sending signals that you are not worthy of reaching this goal.


Creative Chronicles won the free hour of consulting.

What It All Means

I did not create this day for money or fame. I created this project because I want people to enjoy more of their work and to feel successful. I realized that if I helped one person work happier, then all of my efforts were worth it. I want to help more people of course, but I have to think of this first year as a chance to make next year’s Happy at Work Action Day even better.

Thanks to everyone who read, participated, and thought about Happy at Work Action Day. Just be ready for next year – October 4th. It will be improved and even more helpful.

What do you think I could do to improve Happy at Work Action Day?

What would entice you to participate?

* Join over 400 people who have already subscribed to the FREE Happy at Work 10 Week eCourse. It will arrive in your inbox every Monday morning, when you need it the most. (Sign up is also in the top left corner)

* I always talk about the importance of reflection. Chris of the Art of Nonconformity does a wonderful of breaking his life lessons down. Check it out – Annual review 2009 life lessons.

If you enjoyed this post I think you’ll also enjoy:

Results are Only 1% of the Story

Image courtesy of Jenica26

12 thoughts on “How to Deal with Goals You Don’t Reach”

  1. Hi Karl,

    I only learned about Happy at Work Action Day after the fact or I think right on that day via Lance’s blog. So I cannot offer any advice as to what happened. What I can tell you is that I look forward to the one in 2010.

    One more thing, there is no such thing as failure. It sounds like you took an honest inventory at what happened and learned from it. That is absolutely wonderful! Failure is only failure if we do not learn from the experience. So I have no doubt that Happy at Work Action Day 2010 will definitely kick ass!

  2. Pingback: Spirituality Meets Modern World: Dealing With Expectations - Evolving Beings

  3. Karl,
    I have to agree with Nadia – you have not failed. In fact, I would say you are living your vision here in Edison-like fashion. You have not failed, you have only found one way that didn’t work as you had hoped. And! You are already starting to think about how to do it differently next time. This is really great stuff!

    Okay – my thoughts on this. Are you reaching your target audience? And what might entice your target audience to participate (or participate AND share their experience)? Is it worth looking at company-wide prize in addition to individual prizes? (i.e. – what if a company as a whole participated…what’s in it for them?)

    As long as you keep on believing in what this really can be…it is all possible – all your dreams and aspirations for what Happy at Work Action Day can be.

  4. Karl,
    I think your brave, (no failure) especially for laying it all out here! I think you need to get the radio involved. Sounds old fashioned and maybe it’s my age! Do offices and workplaces still have the radio playing at work?

    I don’t think a prize would’ve worked. Not sure why. Did you know me when I gave away a prize on my blog every Monday? The weird thing is I had less readers and comments on those days than I did on others. Go figure.

    I love what Lance says about Edison-like fashion. It’s so true. I wish I had other suggestions. I’ll be thinking on this. You may want to survey your readers.

  5. Karl – do not fret. Your website is quite an inspiration to others! When things are tough I just surf over to WorkHappyNow, read a bit of your site and the day gets better. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in trying to be happy at work. Many of the things you have said and suggestions you have given are slowly creeping their way into the culture at my office. I try to inspire management to make changes for the good of everyone here. With your help, greater happiness is infiltrating my office!! So thank you for all of your work!


  6. Hi Karl

    I agree and second all that Nadia, Lance and Tess wrote. And interesting thing that I too learned from Tess’ comment about the giveaways. It may seem to us like people do want stuff, but when it comes down to it, not so much. I have ran a few contests now and they are nothing as popular as one would think or expect them to be, so I find a lot of value in what Tess wrote.

    Bottom line this is all part of your journey. I had many moments where I thought too, why can’t this or that happen now, but I realize that if it did, it would spoil the journey. It is a growing, learning and creative process. So all went awesome – you put out a fantastic initiative and it can only keep growing the way I see it 🙂

  7. Hi Nadia, When we are honest with our reflections that’s when we can improve the weaknesses and strengthen the positives. I look forward to you joining in next years Happy at Work Action Day.

    Hi Lance, I guess I do have moments of weakness when I talk about changing the culture in business, but I’m trying to use these thoughts to strengthen my resolve. I know change is needed I just need to be a little better listener.

    Hi Tess, You make a good point about prizes not working very well. People do better when intrinsically motivated instead of dangling a carrot out in front of them.

    Hi Carrie, That is so great to hear. I’m going to email you to see if I can use your comment as a testimonial.

    Hi Evita, Great point. This is a journey. If I had it all figured out the process would be boring. I love the challenge of improving corporate culture. I’m going to stick with it until every company creates a culture based on employee happiness.

  8. Hi Karl!!

    I am so happy to be the winner. 🙂 I did get your e-mail at home but have not had a lot of time to respond with the holidays. I will respond to you tonight.

    I think what you do is very important. I know that we have talked about the little things that make life ( work life) better. one being the little tags I have made for my co-workers ( beautiful work) Other things are of course enjoying what you do. ( work hard) but have fun too. So hang in there and keep up rule number one have fun.

    I think next year will be better too. you have set a fine goal to increase your readership, and your e-book subscriptions are well into the 3 figures. Keep up the good work- ( work Happiness) Tamara aka Queue_t at Creative Chronicles

  9. Karl – You did not fail! I recently posted about this “There is no failing when you go for it”…what have you learned, a ton!

    We’ve talked about this and I agree with Lance’s questions. Also, you might consider some in person networking opps in your area that could be a great way to get into a company. Even though a lot are online, a lot still aren’t…and they definitely need the work you are doing!

    Having 7 people participate for your first time, I think is awesome! It can only grow from here…and it will in 2010.

    Shortly after I quit my job and wanted to give up someone said to me “I feel like a 20 year overnight success”. If you believe in something, keep after it…with patience 🙂

    Happy New Year

  10. Karl….
    I wish I had been on board sooner. I am definitely up for Oct 4th! Can people play with playdough on Work Happy day?
    I applaud you, your honesty, and your perseverance! My second event with The Levity Project only had 5 people and I thought it was a failure until I recently checked back in with the early days participants. One woman told me it had changed how she approached people and even though she is extremely shy…laughing in a crowd of 300 with just the 5 of us had given her courage to do many things since.
    How do you know what the ripple effect was of the few that did participate?
    Perhaps it is greater than you might imagine…and of course I hope next year it comes back to you in spades.

  11. Hi, Karl! I’m sorry that this wasn’t bigger than what you hoped for, but I think it’s really great that you reflected and took away the lessons from it that you did. That says a lot, and means the next go-around will be infinitely better for you. Keep in mind that some (now) very famous people “failed” many times before finally hitting that one HUGE success that catapulted them into infamy.

    I believe everything happens for a reason, so when something doesn’t go my way in life I think, “Hmm, there must be a bigger plan at work that I can’t see.” I also believe that I manifest absolutely everything, so I then think my subconscious beliefs weren’t aligned with what I was saying I wanted on the surface. That’s just me, though. It sounds like you’re acutely aware of what you did well this year, and what might need improving. I think that’s awesome.

    I loved your idea, by the way. Since I’m not officially working right now, I couldn’t see a way to apply it in my own life, but there were quite a few friends I thought would benefit.

    Onward & upward, as an old office mate of mine used to say!

  12. One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes is where Calvin gets a lower grade on one his papers. Instead of getting sad, he just lowers his standards and he’s happy again.

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