We present results on the beneficial effects of compensatory secondary control strategies in a sample who failed the entrance exam at an university. Based on the action phase model of developmental regulation we assumed that failing the exam represents the passing of a developmental deadline. We thus hypothesized that compensatory secondary control is associated with a more positive trajectory of satisfaction with life. Multi-group structural equation models showed that (1) compensatory secondary control was associated with higher levels of and a steeper increase in satisfaction with life in the group who failed but not for the group who passed and that (2) in the group who failed the exam, the slope coefficient indicated a significantly steeper increase of satisfaction with life in those who reported higher compensatory secondary control. These results show that letting go a goal can sometimes be more adaptive than persistent goal striving.