Start Over by Being Brutally Honest with Yourself

Understand What Happened and Try It Again

At the beginning of the year, I did an analysis of my year. I looked at how the past year stacked up. I reviewed my goals for the year and determined how I did. Not all were wins or losses: some goals changed during the course of the year. Based on my analysis, I had one win, four losses, and two changes mid-course. That wasn’t what I wanted to see. But I had to be brutally honest with myself. And figure out how to start over for the new year.

brutally honest

I didn’t like not making all my goals. But I had to be willing to admit that I didn’t make all of them. But that required that I be brutally honest with myself. I couldn’t just throw some darts against the wall and then draw the target around the darts. I had to acknowledge that I didn’t hit the target.

It’s never easy to deal with disappointment—or even outright failure. It’s tempting to brood about it. Or to ignore it. Or to deny it ever happened. I have lost count of the number of times that I have had to process what went wrong. And I know it’s no fun to have to admit that things didn’t work out. But disappointment and failure can be great teachers. If you are willing to be taught by them.

Based on my own experience, here’s how you can be brutally honest with yourself and figure out how to start over.



1. Deal with what happened. 


Be willing to do a full diagnostic of what happened. Whether it’s a recent project. A soured relationship. Or an entire year of your life.

Just like when I was reviewing my goals for the year, I had to be brutally honest with myself. I couldn’t sugarcoat the situation. Instead, I had to deal with reality. I couldn’t just say that the year was a “success” and move on. Because I had to face the facts.

Similarly, you need to examine your situation. Recall what really happened, not what you wish had happened—or choosing to remember the situation differently than how it really happened. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If you aren’t brutally honest with yourself, you will likely end up having to go through it all over again.

Be willing to be teachable. Trust that God can use what happened for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). And see what you can draw from the situation.


2. Learn from what happened. 


Identify what went wrong. Be brutally honest with yourself. And pull every lesson out of the experience that you can.

Take responsibility for what you did or did not do. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Be gentle with yourself as you are doing your postmortem analysis. Don’t say unhelpful words to yourself. Just learn from the situation and apply what you learn.

When I was reviewing my goals for the year, I had to admit that I had one win. But on deeper analysis, I had four other wins that I hadn’t set up as goals for the year but were nonetheless important steps for me. Just as I couldn’t say that my year was all good, neither was it all bad.

You get good judgment from experience, and you get experience from bad judgment. Use this exercise as an opportunity to gain good judgment, and apply the experience you’ve gained. Failure can be a great teacher, so let it teach you. Even though failure may be an expensive teacher, it is more expensive to not learn from your failures. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”


3. Make something else happen.


Figure out how to start over. Use what you’ve learned from your analysis and put it good use. And try it again.

In reviewing my year, I saw that I learned that two of my goals didn’t need to be accomplished. They were no longer important to me. Instead four wins that I didn’t start the year with became more important. Also those additional wins were progress toward the goals that I didn’t meet. While I didn’t complete the entire goal, I was further along than I would have been if I hadn’t set the goal at all. So that emboldens me to move forward with those goals again.

Don’t let a setback keep you down. Remember Winston Churchill’s famous words: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

God can use you even if you don’t think you are making progress towards your goals. It’s ultimately not about achieving the goal. It’s about becoming the person that God wants you to become.

Do not let self-doubt prevent you from accomplishing what God wants you to do. God can do more than you could ever ask or imagine through His Spirit working in you (Ephesians 3:20). And see what God will do through you as you move forward in obedience.


Key Takeaway


Don’t be ashamed of cleaning up your mess. And don’t be afraid to start over. Be brutally honest with yourself. Pick up the pieces. Figure out what went wrong. And move forward with confidence.

Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:7). Know that God is with you whether you fail or you succeed. And don’t be afraid to fail your way to success!


I am an experienced coach. I can help you take inventory of your failures and help you accomplish your goals with confidence. Click on the button to start the conversation. 

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3 thoughts on “Start Over by Being Brutally Honest with Yourself

  1. I am impressed with the discussion of your goals. Particularly the 4 successes that weren’t goals and the goals set that had become less or of no importance in light of the 4 successes. Thanks. I am going to look at my past year and forward into the coming year with more intentionality.