When you fail to achieve goals:
Don't beat yourself up

fail to achieve goal, fail to achieve target

What happens if you fail to achieve goals or music practice targets? The key is: Don't beat yourself up! If you fail an exam or play badly in a concert, nothing happens. The world doesn't stop turning, the sky doesn't fall and you can still play your instrument! All it means is you made a miscalculation when planning your targets.

This is not a musical failure on your part.

It is a learning about goal setting experience. I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to achieve your musical goals. Of course, you should, but if you fail to achieve goals don't beat yourself up! Stay focused on what you have achieved. Even if you didn't reach your desired goal, you have still made progress towards it. Reflect on the progress you have made and stay positive. Even if you stopped completely, getting stuck on a particular bar during a performance, think about all the notes you actually played right - even if that is only one! It happened, it's over, you need to move on.

If I fail to achieve goals,
what should I do next?

Is the goal still achievable? If so, just reset your target, think more carefully about the steps you need to take to get there having learned from the fact you failed to achieve it, and continue working towards your goal. Examine your goal setting strategies and think about how you could improve predicting how long something will take to achieve. Remember Thomas Edison took over 10,000 attempts before he perfected the light bulb. Persevere. Stick at it. You will get there!

If it is a goal that seems unachievabale now, such as an exam or performance think about whether it is really unachievable. Exams can be retaken and in the case of practical exams may be skipped, especially if you were very close to the pass mark. There will be other performances in which to redeem yourself and if it was a competition there are other competitions. The first thing is to take responsibility without beating yourself up about it. Look for options. Think about the progress you made, especially if you made lots of progress during the last couple of weeks before a concert or exam. Learn from this that you are capable of making excellent progress, you just need to start the process earlier next time. Keep things in perspective as much as you can. Find the silver lining.

Has anybody else has ever
failed this badly?

You think? Maybe it's just that those people concentrate on their successes and what they learned when they did fail at something.

I went to look for quotes online to put here. I thought I would use

"There is no failure, only feedback"
Robert Allen


but when I started reading I saw one from the basketball legend Michael Jordan

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
Michael Jordan


and as I continued reading down the page I couldn't decide. So here is a link to the rest of the quotes. They all talk about failure in a positive, learning way saying if you don't fail, how can you learn? Every person with quotes on this page would tell you "Don't beat yourself up about it. Move on."

Moving on

When you fail to achieve goals, moving on is the key. Work out what went wrong with your preparation, re-plan, take into account the progress you have already made whether you are building on it or whether you have learned one way not to do something and start moving back towards your goal.

Expert Practice Secrets


practice makes perfect by simon horsey

Frustrated with your practice? Read Practice Makes Perfect and hack the 10,000 hour rule. Cut your practice time by up to 25%! Make faster progress, learn pieces and scales faster, memorize more easily, and much more. "If you play an instrument you need this book!"






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