Your Goal is Progress, Not Completion

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Emotional Intelligence, Men's Issues, Responsibility, Values

The real reasons that so many of us fail in life is 1) we accept failure and quit when we should be picking ourselves up, learning and staying with it and 2) We’re too afraid of it and in doing so, we give it a lot more power. It seems really counter-intuitive to many people but it really is true that you are far more likely to create and find that which you are afraid of. Think about it. If the fear of failure stops you from trying, starting and staying in the game, isn’t that failing?

My point here is that the fast way to failure is to not try at all or give up when those initial setbacks happen. When you choose to give up that’s when you choose to fail. Those who are successful would argue, h2ly, that failure is indeed a choice and that you choose failure when you choose to give up or you choose to focus on the setbacks when they happen as though those setbacks mean something about you.


One of the easiest and quickest ways to sabotage yourself and ensure that you fail is to look at the entire distance that you have to go. It doesn’t matter what area of you’re life that you’re working on. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, maybe you’re trying to set better boundaries by saying ‘no’ more often, maybe it means less anxious or less depressed. Whatever point of personal excellence you’re focusing on, I want the take away for you to be this. It’s not about completion, it’s about progress.

Here’s the truth about being a person, we are a lot like house plants. If we’re not growing, we’re dying. Growth is a process that you cultivate. Life isn’t like board game where if you land a certain square you get to all the way to the end. Your goal is to make progress, to be a little bit closer to where you want to go today than you were yesterday.

The part that a lot of people fail to understand is that the progress has its own reward but it’s really important to understand that the reward isn’t that feeling of pleasure that we’re used to getting from instant gratification so if that’s the good feeling that you’re expecting, I’m afraid that you’re going to be disappointed. Trust me that when I say that the gratification that comes from progress is whole other level of feeling good. As I often say, pleasure is great but there are a lot of other good feelings including contentment, satisfaction and pride. When you accomplish some progress that you’ve never gotten before, it’s an amazing feeling.

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re looking for something better. You want something different and you something better for yourself. If you’re having trouble getting started because you’re stuck on the daunting task of taking on the entire thing then you are sabotaging yourself. The trick is to break it down into more sizable chunks and measuring progress. Hitting milestones can feel just as great as accomplishing the bigger goal, in fact, if you don’t learn to enjoy the journey and celebrate the milestones it’s highly unlikely that you will achieve your greater goal.

As you learn and grow, take time to reflect on where you started and where you are in comparison to when you first started. The reason why your goal is progress is because it’s far easier to keep your momentum going than it is to start moving from a dead stop. You don’t go from having nothing and doing nothing to being a massive success in short periods of time. Success is cultivated, it has to grow slowly, over time but the bottom line here is that progress has its own positive reward. Here are some other tips for your growth process.

Beware of comparisons – One way that people sabotage themselves and help ensure failure is by comparing themselves to other people. There are at least a dozen reasons why comparisons are problematic but the conclusions for all of the reasons is the same. Comparing yourself and your success to others is completely useless and serves no good purpose. If you want your life to improve and if you want to make progress in any area of your life you’ll avoid comparing yourself to others.

Compare your progress only to your own and yourself. Don’t look at other people, they are you and you aren’t them. Make the decision, right now, that you will only do what works and what is effective and you will avoid doing what is ineffective as though it might kill you.

Document Your Progress

Get a notebook or a journal and once a week take about ten minutes to write about what you accomplished this week, any differences you’ve noticed, what is working, what isn’t working, etc. There are multiple purposes for doing this, most of which will help you hit all the points that I already mentioned. You’ll compare yourself to others less and it will force you to notice progress that you may not have noticed otherwise. But it will also help you create positive routines. Over time it will also help train your brain to be progress oriented.

You can start right now by writing down your goals and where you’d like to be in six months, a year, three years, etc. While you do this, start noticing any inner resistance that pops up. Your existing narratives will tell you that things are not realistic or that you don’t deserve them. When you start noticing those then you can take the next steps to overcome them. These are just a few benefits from writing about your progress and I’m confident that you will also discover some unexpected benefits along the way.

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