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How to Be at Peace When You Have Not Achieved Your Goals

What has this year been like for you? Were you able to do all that you had set out to accomplish?

If yes, then praise God! Celebrate, give thanks, and ready yourself for what’s ahead. But if not, don’t be too discouraged. 

We know it can be easy to look back on the year and feel like we have not achieved much. God knows this too, but He’s not our difficult boss or stern parent who will only accept the best and no less. He’s our loving Father who journeys with us through our ups and downs and enables us to keep going.

Take this year end as an opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with God, and let Him help you sort through your thoughts, so that you can find the peace, strength, and courage to move forward.

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1. Bring your disappointments to God 

It’s normal to feel disappointed when you’ve not been able to achieve what you set out to do. Perhaps you feel like you’ve worked hard all year, but it didn’t pay off as you’d hoped. Maybe you’ve been wanting to take better care of your health or spend more time with family and friends, but somehow work seems to always take over.

But if disappointment deepens and turns into discouragement, could it be that, deep down, we believe that these accomplishments define us—our happiness and self-worth? Do we think, if I can’t do these, then what good am I? 

The disappointment is crushing when we pin all our hopes on these goals, and we think failing to accomplish them proves we’re useless, or that happiness is out of reach. Perhaps we care more about what we think of ourselves, rather than what God thinks, so instead of running to Him, we retreat into ourselves to lick our wounds.

The Lord remembers and looks kindly on us when we are low (Psalms 136:23, 138:6). Let’s carry our disappointments to Him, and exchange them for His unfailing compassions (Lamentations 3:20-23). Let’s continue to place our hopes in Him so we will not remain disappointed (Psalm 42:1-11, Isaiah 49:23). 

When we’re tempted to let our disappointments turn into self-loathing, let’s remember God sees our hearts, and it’s His opinion of us that matters most (1 Corinthians 4:5).

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2. Accept that progress takes time

We know this, but when it comes down to working towards our goals, we’re hard pressed to reach certain milestones by a certain time.

It usually takes two to three years to get promoted? I’m gonna make it happen in a year.

I started exercising months ago, why am I still not that fit and toned? 

I was gonna read 30 books this year, but I’ve not even made it to 10.

We think reaching our goals is simply about putting our noses to the grindstone, and in a way, that tells us how we tend to estimate progress in terms of our own strength, willpower, and sense of control. Just as the world likes to tell us, if only we would believe in ourselves, it will happen!

In stark contrast to our fast-paced, technology-driven world, the Bible presents many farming-related images (Ecclesiastes 11:6, Galatians 6:7-9, James 5:7) to highlight the importance of patience and perseverance (Proverbs 21:5, 2 Timothy 2:3-6).  After we’ve done our part, we need to recognise that there’s an aspect of growth and progress that falls entirely under God’s control (Psalm 104:13-15, 1 Corinthians 3:7-8, 2 Corinthians 9:10). 

Above all, God is most invested in growing our faith, character, and love for Him. When we keep this greater goal in mind, it helps us to be patient with ourselves and to be diligent in every circumstance.

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3. Be fair with yourself

Give yourself credit where it’s due. As Galatians 6:3 says, “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions.”

It’s tempting to fall into that all-or-nothing mentality, such that when you’ve not achieved something, your first thought is, bah I’ve done nothing at all, I’m useless. But have you really done nothing at all? Most likely you’ve made some steps toward your goals, and if you’ve actually put in effort, then celebrate what you have achieved. 

It’s not so much about telling yourself, I’m the best! (which is actually vague and unhelpful) as it is about reminding yourself what actually happenedI was able to do this and that. I was able to make progress. Then, thank God for helping you accomplish these things. We can echo the words in 1 Corinthians 15:10, to acknowledge that we have worked hard, and yet it is all by the grace of God

If, however, you really haven’t made any step at all towards your goal, don’t beat yourself up for it. Instead, go to God and speak to Him (and to yourself) honestly: 

God, I know I said I wanted to get healthy but I’ve not done anything about this. Would you forgive me for procrastinating and succumbing to laziness? Help me to forgive myself too, so I can start over and try again. 

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4. Embrace God’s perspective of growth and success

To grow as children of God, we need to have a sober (not inflated or dejected) view of ourselves. Romans 12:3 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” 

In context, Paul is talking about the gifts God has given us, and he actually presents a two-fold command: First, don’t think of your gift as less or more, but focus on what part it plays in the bigger picture; second, your gift is meant to be used in service to others, not to prove yourself in terms of what you can do. 

All this to tell us that we are to grow in love and service, and success is reflected by our faithful pursuit of thesenot by how many we serve and help! But by keeping a consistently pure heart that longs for these things.

Meanwhile, 1 Peter 4:7 tells us: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 

Again, here are two things to help us see God’s perspective: First, time is of the essence because the Lord is coming soon, so have we done our best with what He’s given us? Second, we want to be sober-minded so we can pray intently, to love God and others in everything we do.

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5. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you forward

Before He left, Jesus promised us the Spirit “to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16-17). As our counsellor and advocate, the Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13) and “teach you all things and remind you of everything [Jesus] said” (John 14:26). This is our key to wisdom, which we need to set and work toward the right goals.

We don’t have to do things on our own and feel defeated or anxious when we’re unable to because the Spirit “helps us in our weakness…intercedes for us through wordless groans…in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). When we follow the Spirit closely, we need not worry that we’re working outside of God’s will.

Finally, as Jesus said (and the Spirit reminds us): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27). This peace we so desperately long for is found in the Spirit (Romans 8:6, Galatians 5:22-25). Let us stay close to Him every day.


The Spirit helps us live by faith. And when we remain faithful to Jesus, we will never fall impossibly behind—or be beyond His redemption.

He says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). We can persevere and work hard only if we have this rested assurance in Jesus. Knowing that He has accomplished perfection for us frees us from the anxiety, disappointments, and regrets resulting from all our shortcomings, and enables us to keep working towards our goals, especially the goal of pressing on to know Christ fully (Philippians 3:12-14).

1 reply
  1. Candice
    Candice says:

    Thank you for this. I was sharing it on my WhatsApp status and decided to preview before I shared and though I am not miserable about a situation currently it was sound advice. Thanks for blessing me YMI.


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