I have certain daily goals. Write 350 words. Get my running pace to around 11 minutes. Spend wisely. Eat healthy. Lift more heavy things. So on and so forth.

In addition to being an imperfect human animal, circumstances sometimes fall together in that a goal is unattainable temporarily, or I am too drained to reach for it. Whatever the reasoning or excuse offered up, though, the bottom line is that I fail in my goal. The day comes to a close and I find myself looking at several failures, large and small, littered behind me.

I’ve come to understand that I can’t let them weigh too heavily on my shoulders.

Emerson tells us this:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Goals are great for us to have. They give us something to aim at, an achievement to strive towards. As much as accepting compromise or failure can lead to complacency and stagnation, we also cannot obsess over achieving every goal we set, at least in the short term. That way lies madness. So, as in most things, the key is in balance.

Have your goals. Work towards them. Make as much effort as you can to get where you want to be. And if you don’t exactly get there, you’ll at least be closer. Progress is progress, even if it seems slow or even glacial.

I’m reminding myself of that every day, and you should, too, especially if you’re feeling frustrated or depressed about how work is turning out or how circumstances are coming together. Be patient. Take a deep breath. Try again. If all else fails, remember that you get to start fresh tomorrow, and possibly do even better.

Don’t give up. Never surrender. Put one foot, physical or metaphorical, in front of the other, and you’ll get where you want to go.