It’s a simple fact of life that no one is perfect, and sooner or later there will be a time when it becomes clear: you’re not going to make your goal/meet your deadline/hit your milestone. No matter the reason, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact of this professional hiccup.
Step 1: Try really, really hard to meet your goal.
Are there things you could prioritize differently? Is there another deadline that could be more easily shifted, or side projects that can be put on hold? Instead of feeling defeated, take a hard look at your workload and make sure success is actually out of reach. Often, you may be able to work your way through the situation with a little extra elbow grease and adjusted priorities.
Step 2: Ask for help.
If you’ve looked at your current situation from all angles and truly can’t get it done on your own, try asking a colleague or teammate for support. A fresh pair of eyes could reinvigorate you and inspire new ideas, or maybe your colleague could lend a few hours of their time to help you get caught up.
Step 3: Communicate! And lay your cards on the table.
If neither of the first steps were successful, you’ll need to bite the bullet and let people know. Hone in on a precise explanation (not excuse) and tell your manager or teammates ASAP to keep expectations in line. Work together to come up with a new deadline/adjusted goal and then: get it done.
Step 4: Move on!The worst thing you can do is dwell on the past. Think about what could have gone differently, and learn from your mistakes so it doesn’t happen again – but then shift your focus to the next hurdle!