Learning from Failure: How to Make 2018 the Best Year Yet

December 1, 2017
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Erin Philbrick

The end of the year is almost here; did you meet your goals? If not, you’re not alone. Failing to achieve goals can range from missing your sales goals by a couple points to bankruptcy. No matter where you fall along that line, you know you must pick up and keep moving forward.

If you’re ready to try again in 2018, here’s what you need to know to learn from failure and make next year the best yet.

Why Did You Fail?

The most challenging part of the process is owning the mistakes and missteps you made that lead to failure–but it’s time to face the facts. Don’t waste time placing blame or getting stuck in negative emotions. What’s done is done. Instead, spend your time reflecting on how things went wrong so you can make better progress in the future. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Did I plan well? Or at all?
Were my goals reasonable and achievable?
Were there unforeseeable circumstances that got in the way?
Did I allocate resources properly?
Did I focus on my customers?
Did I bite off too much?

These are just a few questions to get the thought-ball rolling. Understanding what happened can help you avoid it next time. For example, unexpected delays can’t be predicted, but you can build space for them–either with resources or buffers between deadlines.

What Went Well?

Even the most disastrous of years have a few successes. What did you do well? What came out better than you expected? Learning from failure also means learning to capitalize on your successes. Is it possible to redirect or refocus your 2018 goals to do more of what you’re good at? Stay within your strengths and you’ll find more success.

Learning From Failure: Planning for Next Year

A successful year is built on reasonable goals and sound planning. As you start developing your strategy for 2018, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Set SMART goals. “We’ll do better next year” is not a goal. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Time-based. Clearly define what you want to realistically accomplish, include milestones to mark progress, make sure everyone is on board, and add a bit of urgency to keep your team motivated without burning them out.
  • Know your Audience. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, and make sure you’re providing products and services that your target market wants. It can be tempting to jump into something you’re passionate about, but if the research doesn’t back your hunch, you might be setting yourself up to fail.
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. SMART goals are meant to be specific, and that means being specific in your planning, too. Marketing objectives can take several weeks to play out, so they’ll only be successful if you’ve got the steps in place first. Know what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it.
  • Adapt. The flip side of specific plans and exacting preparations is the ability to be agile and adapt as you go. If something is not working, be prepared to let it go. Build in a bit of a buffer so you can be flexible when the unexpected happens without disrupting the rest of the year. You can’t prepare for everything, but you can be ready to change.

From Failure Comes Success

Make 2018 your best year yet by being honest with yourself about how this past year went, and making better plans for the future. Need help with your marketing? New Perspective can help you analyze what went wrong and develop a better marketing plan for 2018 that will help you meet your goals.

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