By Jody Long Lately the word "goal" has been showing up a little more in my vocabulary. I've seen a couple of presentations now on setting goals, and following through on them. But have you ever thought about your failed goals? You know...the ones you set out to accomplish, but for one reason or another they're not completely achieved? A few years ago I set out to have a side job as a kickboxing instructor, but I failed both exams. I worked toward the goal of finally breaking the 2 hour mark in a half marathon; my official time was 2 hours and 7 minutes. And I attempted to skim a 92 foot pond on downhill skies, but only made it about half way. You'd think at this point I would tell myself that I'm either not as athletic as I think I am, or that I shouldn't set these goals for myself. Well, I won't settle on either of those answers. If I wasn't athletic I wouldn't have had the strength to stand up in front of a group of fitness instructors showing them my jab-cross-hook-upper cut combo. I wouldn't be able to endure 13.1 miles of running, and I wouldn't be able to glide 45 feet across water on equipment that was made to glide across something a little more solid. If I didn't set any of these goals, I wouldn't learn from any of them. I'm beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, your failed goals are just as important as the ones you accomplish. I believe you learn just as much from the ones you can't put a full check mark next to, than those you can. You learn to tweak your goals for next time around. You learn to get back on the proverbial horse. You learn what you did wrong, and what you did right. I now know what to expect from a kickboxing class as a participant, after knowing what goes through the instructors head. I now know how to chop off those last 7 minutes the next time around. And at next year's pond skim, I think I just need an awesome costume to get me across Here's an exercise to help fine tune your goals: Write down 5 goals. Create some that are for the near future, and some for the distant future. Then write down 5 characteristics about yourself; 5 things that would describe you. Once you've completed these separate lists, compare them. See how your qualities have an effect on your goals. Does one characteristic hinder a goal? Do some of the attributes have a positive effect on your goals? Then rank the 5 goals. Take your top goal, and write down what you're going to do in the next week, month, and 6 months to accomplish that goal. And remember, if you fail, go back to the drawing board and don't get discouraged.