March 28, 2020  

When To Pivot Your Goals (& When To Keep Going)

Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but you shouldn’t give up on your goals! Learn ways to pivot your goals even when life throws you a curveball.


When life throws you a curveball, it’s easy to get frustrated. You work hard on your goals all year only to have something completely unexpected happen! it’s understandable to feel frustrated, defeated, and upset about your goals being thrown completely off course.

Whether it’s the current global pandemic, an unexpected job change, an urgent move, a divorce, a death in the family, a natural disaster, or some other life-altering event, these curveballs tend to come at us from time to time. Right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and life looks a lot different than you probably imagined when you carefully mapped out your goals in January.

In times like this, it can feel like all that work on your goals was pointless. All the momentum you had, all the hard work you’ve put in, all the carefully-laid plans for the months ahead have gone out the window. I get it and it’s okay to feel frustrated.

No matter your situation or what kind of goals you had for this year, I really encourage you to find a way to pivot or push forward with your goal rather than giving up. It’s easy to throw in the towel when the going gets tough but this is exactly when you need to hold tight to the things that are most important to you!

Today we’re talking about how to know if you should keep going and when you should consider pivoting your goals. I have some tangible ideas for ways you can pivot so you can continue to make progress even if that progress looks different than you expected. 

Now before we dive in, I want you to know that you have my complete permission to slow down and push pause on your goals right now if things are overwhelming and rough and goals are the last thing you want to think about. Whenever you’re ready, come back to this post for ideas on how you can pivot and adjust your goals. 




When To Pivot Your Goals

how do You know If You Should Pivot Or Push Forward?

If you’ve been working toward a goal all year but are struggling to make any progress or to see how you can move forward with it given new circumstances, it’s perfectly normal to wonder if you should keep pursuing it.

In the world of goal setting, it’s admirable and encouraged to have the self-discipline to keep charging ahead even when the going gets rough. But is that always the right thing to do?

I’m a big believer in doing regular goal check-ins to not only assess your progress but to also make sure you’re still on the right path. We can fall into the trap of pushing full steam ahead on a goal without realizing we’re no longer headed in the right direction.

So yes, it’s important to have that self-discipline to keep working toward your goals even when things feel hard and you want to give up. But at the same time, goals are not set in stone and sometimes it’s okay to rewrite your goal, to adjust it a bit, to pivot it. You’re in control of your goals and it’s okay to course correct!

The goals you set in January are only a plan based on the information you knew then. Given your new circumstances, your life changes may very well merit a pivot.

Btw, I LOVE my Powersheets Goal Planner because it has built-in space to reflect on and refine your goals every 90 days. This is always a good checkpoint to make sure I’m still working toward the right goals!


Are You giving up if You pivot?

If you get nothing else out of this post, remember this: pivoting does not mean you failed.

Yes, it’s important to work hard and stick with your goals, but it’s also important to recognize when it’s time to make adjustments.

Giant life changes or not, your goals are meant to evolve and change as life does so don’t feel like you’re stuck with the ones you wrote down at the beginning of the year. 

A plan is only that–a plan. You can’t predict the future and it’s normal to make adjustments and even pivot a different direction altogether. Hey, it’s even perfectly okay to get into the year and realize your priorities have changed and a goal isn’t worth pursuing after all.

Hold onto the intent behind your goal, but be flexible with how you get there.

Maybe you had a goal to go on a big trip this year and now all of your travel plans have been canceled. If you really ask yourself why that goal was important, it may be the sense of adventure that you are after and not the destination itself.

So while you may not be able to travel during a global pandemic, for example, you can pivot your goal to finding adventures closer to home. Learn to cook foods from around the world, take virtual tours of national landmarks, go on a hike in your hometown, or start planning your next trip.

But What About All Of The Hard Work you’ve Already Put Into My Goal?

Gosh, I think this is one of the hardest things about pivoting your goals. When you’ve worked so hard toward something, it can easily become more about checking the goal off your list than about the goal itself.

Your hard work will never be wasted even if you change your goal. It’s really quite okay to put in a lot of effort only to realize it’s not worth pursuing anymore.

Entrepreneurs do this often, spend years working on their new business only to realize they created a product their customers don’t want to buy or a business model that’s not profitable or their industry changes due to external factors.

And when they realize this, some will push forward anyway because that’s what they set out to do and they’ve already poured so much time and money into the business that they can’t possibly quit now.

But savvy entrepreneurs are always course correcting, always using new learnings to make adjustments and sometimes realizing they need to make a total pivot in a new direction. Did you know Youtube started out as a video-based dating service? They pivoted into an online video host and you know how they turned out!


How To Adjust Your Goals During The Year

1 – Adjust Your Timeline

One way to pivot on your goal is to simply adjust the timeline. It’s easy to feel defeated when you don’t reach your goal when you thought you would, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You can still meet your goal, it just may not be on the timeline you’d originally planned. And that’s okay!

I’ve been working on a project for the blog for months and my goal was to have it done in April. But the stress of trying to meet that deadline became too much and in my gut, I knew it was unrealistic as April drew nearer.

I felt so defeated for changing my arbitrary deadline but in the end, I will still reach my goal even if it’s a couple of months later than I would have liked.

2 – Find An Alternate Path

Changes in your life may affect your original plan for reaching your goals. Maybe you had a weight loss goal and joined a gym as part of your plan to reach that goal. But then life throws you a curveball and you can no longer afford your gym membership. What then?

Instead of giving up on your weight loss goal entirely, find an alternate path! You may not be able to go to the gym anymore, but you can still find free workouts on Youtube or attend free running club meet-ups in your community.

There’s a way to reach your goal even if you have to take a different path than you planned.

3 – Change Directions

Perhaps your circumstances have changed and your goal is no longer possible or even that important.

What if you had big goals to finally pay off that student loan this year only to lose your job? That loss of income may mean you won’t be able to pay off your loan this year, but you can always change directions and work toward a different financial goal.

While income is tight right now, you can shift your focus to another financial goal like creating your will, meeting with a financial planner, or creating a budget (I’m obsessed with You Need A Budget!).


Give Yourself Time To Regroup

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t give up on your goals when life gets hard. Curveballs and unexpected situations will no doubt come your way, so the best thing you can do is be flexible and make adjustments as you go.

When life gets tough or crazy, hit pause on your goals and give yourself time to regroup. Get the current situation under control the best you can, then revisit your goals and figure out how you’re going to adjust them.

And remember….”not now” does not mean “not ever.”

Download The Free Goal Check-In Worksheet


Use this goal check-in worksheet as a guide for evaluating your goals and refining them monthly. Subscribe to have the free worksheet sent straight to your inbox.

I'll never send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Looking for more goal-setting articles? Check out these past blog posts:

Have a fantastic day!

You May Also Like...

About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

12 ways to automate your to-do list

(that won't cost a dime)

Discover practical, easy-to-implement ideas for automating some of the recurring tasks on your to-do list. Subscribe to have the free guide sent straight to your inbox.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}