Is It Only Success If You Reach Your Goal?

As the year comes to an end, we tend to look back and wonder how it’s gone.

Was it a success? 

Did you set some goals this year? 

Did you reach them? 


As my year comes to an end, I wonder: is it only success if I reach my goal? Or moreover, to what extend do I need to reach my goal to consider it successful?

And when do I consider my attempt to reach a goal a complete failure?

Do I need to reach 100% to be successful? Is perfection the only worthy option?

In school, 50% is often considered a pass. Is that enough, and everything above that simply a sign of some great work being done?


This year, meditation has been my biggest goal. I planned to meditate every single day this year. Yes, I was striving for a 100% success.

And then I failed. Miserably. 

I meditated for 80 days straight and then, suddenly, completely lost my meditation practice.

I tried. I meditated for a few days here and there. And lost my practice again.

I often thought “Now, this is it. Let’s make a new start today!”

And yet, I could go almost a month without meditation.

A complete failure!

Or so I thought.


Somehow, by letting go of the pressure and the perfectionism, and allowing myself to take a break, the internal motivation came back, very slowly. 

I found the motivation to start again, keeping the practice for 32 days.

And then I failed. Meditated every other day for a while.

And so it went on. I’d meditate. I’d keep my practice for some time. Id fail.

Slowly, allowing myself to enjoy the progress, I stopped considering this as failure.

Some days I meditated, some days I did not.

I knew the end goal would be a steady meditation practice, every day.

And I also knew that pushing myself there would not be the way to go.


I needed to let myself enjoy the progress. To slowly find the need and the want to meditate.

And now, the year has almost come to an end. And I am looking at my habit tracker.

Did I succeed or did I fail?


Well, it turns out, that I meditated 60% of the days this year!

That’s a pass!

It is not the 100% that I aimed at. And it is also not the approximate 13% I meditated last year.

It’s in between. And it shows a lot of progress.

Change takes time. Always. And I can say with all my heart, that this attempt, was successful.

I can also say that the first half of the year, I meditated 50% of the days, and in the second half, 67%!

Which means, that I am meditating a bit more, every day that passes.

I feel that every goal you set yourself teaches you something.

Simply by setting that goal, you are setting yourself up for learning. Success or failure – does it matter?

Because as long as you try a little, you are getting a little further than last time.

In Icelandic, we have the saying that simply starting gets you half way there.

Does it make sense? Not really. Is it true? I think so. 

Starting, setting a goal and striving for it will teach you a lot.

Reaching it will be amazing as well.

And still, even though you “fail”, you still did a little better than last time.


So, put a smile on your face and be proud. You have gotten this far.

Thank yourself for putting the effort in.

See how far you’ve gotten.

And then, set a new goal. And do your very best to reach it.

Because it is that progress, that effort, that matters.

That you strive to reach your goal.

Striving to do your very best, is, in my opinion, success. 

Hey, yogis, do you have any “failures” that are secret successes? Share your thoughts with us!

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  1. Avatar


    December 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Early in my home yoga practice, I latched on to the following saying (I’m fond of motivational slogans) from a book:
    “Correct effort, without overattachment to the goal, leads to mastery in Yoga.”
    That’s the part I memorized; the passage (from “Yoga the Iyengar Way”) continues “…This demands sincerity and perseverance in practice. They bring the goal near. Through nonattachment the mind is undisturbed by dejection resulting from failure or by the pride of achievement. When the means are right, the fruit comes by itself.”
    You can find plenty of scriptural references to nonattachment in the “Bhagavad Gita” (which I assume is required reading for many YTT programs), or various Buddhist sutras/texts.

  2. Avatar


    January 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Sorry, I forgot to also quote Yoga Sutra (Patanjali) 1.12: “That can be controlled through practice and non-attachment.”

  3. Chuck Vadun

    Chuck Vadun

    January 4, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Good stuff, Pala! I’m able to look back and think, “Well, thank goodness I DIDN’T succeed at reaching some of those goals” (getting that job, making that move, staying in that relationship, etc.). If I had, my life wouldn’t be the way it is now, and I’m pretty happy with how it is 🙂

    1. Pála Margrét

      Pála Margrét

      January 4, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      So true, I like your outlook! When one door closes, one (or more) open instead!

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