I put the word "fail" in quotes in the title because I strongly believe that you never REALLY fail if you've learned something from having tried. There's a difference between a good goal and a good outcome - sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can't make it work.

In my experience, there are three main reasons for this.

Your goal was bad for the outcome you wanted to achieve.

You did all the right things, but you were aiming at the wrong target. For instance, let's say you wanted to do something to help people (your objective) so you decided to go to law school (the goal).

Unfortunately, you find you hate to study, read, or write. And you don't like being in conflict with people! There's an inherent mismatch between your personality and the goal you chose.

Have you "failed?" No. Your goal was wrong. You may have spent time and money that you wish you hadn't, but think about what you learned: You are a doer, not a studier. Yes, you still want to help people, but now you know you need to look at other ways that focus more on your own personality and style.

That's great information to know about yourself. Many people don't find out what they really want to do with their lives until they're in the corner suite, and miserable! Treat this setback as a valuable learning experience. Then, as the song goes, "pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again."

Your process to achieve the goal was wrong.

Sometimes you have a great goal, but you just pick the wrong path for getting there. That's like knowing where you want to go on the other side of town, but picking the road that's under construction, full of detours, and jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. There's nothing wrong with your goal; you just picked the wrong road.

To bring this into the business world, it would be like knowing what result you want (let's say, more sales) but choosing a strategy that doesn't pay off (advertising at bus stops when your target customer has a chauffeur).

Sometimes you don't know you've chosen the wrong path until you're halfway down the road. You've invested a lot of time and money and suddenly there's that detour sign. You then have a choice to make - do you suck it up and keep going, hoping it will get better? Or do you cut your losses, backtrack, and start over again?

As much as you hate to hear it, you're usually better off heading back to a fresh start. If this makes you cringe, let me tell you a story.

Maxine Hong Kingston, the fabulous novelist, had almost finished a manuscript for a new book, "The Fourth Book of Peace." It was completely destroyed in the Oakland fires of 1991. Kingston went on to write a new book, "The Fifth Book of Peace," which included a rewritten version of the destroyed book. Now that is "rising from the ashes"... literally.

If you need to start over, glean the best of what went right before and add it to your knowledge banks. Then set the past aside and move forward!

Your execution was wrong.

The goal was right. The path was right. But, your execution? Not so much. Maybe your motivation started faltering. Maybe you started cutting corners. Or maybe you just gave up. Whatever the reason, the result was the same: Your goal remains out of reach.

If the reason for your "failure" lies at your feet, take a look at your why. Why did it drop? Did you try all the strategies we've already discussed? Are you still committed to this goal? Do you need additional resources? Figure out where the disconnect is, then try, try again.

"Failure" to me is just another word for "Things didn't turn out quite like I had planned." There are still plenty of lessons to be learned - sometimes more so than if everything had panned out just right.

Next week, we'll look at why sometimes it may be best to just let your goal go - and for good reason.

Author's Bio: 

Jeannine Clontz, IVAA CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit: http://www.internetmarketingvirtualassistant.net, or contact her at info@internetmarketingvirtualassistant.net