Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a number of people sharing on social media how they’ve succumbed to a dose of the ‘negative Nellys.’ They’ve seen posts on social media about how friends have been crushing their New Year goals. And although we’re only part way through the year, they feel like they’ve missed the boat and the 2018 ship has already sailed. How To Stay Positive When Your Best Laid Plans Go Awry

Have you too been feeling like your best-laid plans have gone awry?


Can I let you into a secret? I haven’t finished setting my goals for 2018 either. And my shiny new vision board for 2018 is sitting by my desk – empty – alongside a huge pile of magazines and a glue stick.

This was not what I’d planned. I stopped work on 21 December in readiness for an extended Christmas and Twixmas break. I worked my way through Michael Hyatt’s course, 5 Days To Your Best Year Ever™ and his accompanying book, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan For Achieving Your Most Important Goals. I completed all the exercises, and made detailed notes of my plans.

Then boom, I came down with the nasty flu bug that’s been doing the rounds. Three weeks later, my brain no longer feels like cotton wool and I’ve finally got the energy to get through an entire day. It was only this weekend gone that I had the energy to resume work on my 2018 goals. And truth be told I’d forgotten half of what I’d done!

The truth is that goals can be set at any time. This is not just a New Year activity. If we allow our best laid plans to go awry because we’ve not achieved perfection in goal setting, we’ve fallen prey to ‘black and white thinking’ which is a form of limiting belief.

If your best laid plans for 2018 have gone awry and you’re struggling with the ‘negative Nellys,’ it’s time to realise that it’s okay to be where you are, even if it’s not exactly where you thought you should be.

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When it feels like things aren’t going to plan in one area of our lives, it’s easy to focus on where we’re stuck rather than on what’s going right.

Most recently for me, I found myself fixating on the fact that I was behind with my reading on leadership. In addition to reading the two books I received in January through Michael Hyatt’s Leaderbox™, I also intended to read Gordon Brown’s recent autobiography. Having the flu meant I only had the energy to watch (the entire series of) Designated Survivor on Netflix.

Rather than pine over the negative (something I can be very good at) try thinking about the positive. I’m a super-fast reader, and there’s no reason why I can’t catch up with this particular goal.


Back when I was a stressed out CEO, I told myself that one day, I’d use my story to help other people. I didn’t know how or when. If I hadn’t been so unhappy in my job and felt the need to “reset” by taking a sabbatical and taking the decision to start my own business, I would never have launched Built To Succeed, met some of my closest friends, or moved to the seaside.


Read any biography and you’ll discover times when the author felt discouraged, disappointed and filled with regrets. Last week I wrote two articles about Martin Luther King. When we think about Dr King, our minds are drawn to his achievements. The inspiration ‘I have a dream’ speech. Sweeping changes to civil rights legislation. The Nobel Peace Prize.

However his first desegregation campaign in Albany, Georgia, wasn’t a success, as this article for Michael Hyatt’s magazine explains. But as a result of that failure, King left Georgia convinced he could learn from the setback and use it to build something more durable and beautiful going forward.


The quickest way to get out of a dose of the ‘negative Nellys’ is to take action, no matter how small that action is.

Another of my goals is to run 5K by the end of April. I haven’t felt well enough to put on my tracksuit and running shoes. But this hasn’t prevented me from carrying out some research and finding a programme that will enable me to comfortably accomplish my goal. I might have set the bar very low with this first task. But that’s the point. It was an easy task which, even in my weakened state, I was able to complete. I got started.

Question: How do you stay positive when things aren’t going as planned? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share let me know in the comments box below.


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