Progress Not Arrival

We set our goals and begin working towards them. Making progress and hopefully checking the goal off of our list.

But what happens when you never arrive at the end of the goal? Should you be happy with the progress not the arrival?

Cape Point Distance Sign

Image by Alan Green

I’ve set many goals for my life and find myself not completing the goal. Instead, going off the path and going towards another shiny object or giving up on the goal altogether.

It’s got me thinking “Is this such a bad thing?”

I’ll have to say it all depends on what the purpose of your goal was.

Was it to actually accomplish the goal? Or was it to make progress in your life? To improve yourself?

If it’s the latter, I’d wager to say that it’s not a bad thing.

One of the goals I’ve slacked at has been daily walks with my wife. We’ve made quite a few but we sure haven’t gone every day.

Now am I disappointed?


Why? Because I’ve been on more walks with Pam this year than I probably have in the 7 years we’ve been married.

That’s progress. That’s moving forward. That’s something.

The walks have allowed for more communication. For more time together.

While we never arrived at a walk every day, we have made progress. We’ve taken a journey together.

That’s important.

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
— Bruce Lee

Or take the college dropout.

He went to college. Gained the knowledge he needed. Dropped out. Started his own company. Became successful.

Did he arrive at the goal of a college degree? Nah…

He did progress and became a success though.

In the end it shouldn’t be about reaching your goals. It should be about taking a journey.

Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Question: How have you made progress but not arrived at the completion of a goal? How has it affected your life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • My wife and I try to set goals every year.  Our goals center on our marriage, our family, our finances, our faith, and our home.  Yes, we’d like to achieve the goals, but like you said above, it’s also about the progress.  One of our goals this year has been to pray with each other twice a day (once in the morning and once at bedtime).  Do we always get it right?  No, there are some days where we miss one or the other.  But we’ve made tremendous progress – just on this one goal.  Goals give us a target to shoot for – something to progress towards.

    When we meet together every year to discuss our goals, it’s a time of readjustment, realignment, and renewal toward a common purpose.  Some of the goals from the previous years have been achieved, some are in progress, and some have been abandoned.  It’s all good.

    •  That’s awesome Jon. Glad you’re making the progress even if you haven’t arrived at the destination. Seeing the growth can be just as important as arriving!

  • Very good point. I often get upset with myself for not following through…but then I realize that i have made progress and that knowledge can be used to build on for something much more important. 

    • Jared, glad you’re learning this valuable lesson. It’s one we all need to know.

  • Joe, i like goals. Used to like them so much that i beat myself up when i failed to attain. That was stressful! mercifully, i’ve now learned that goals can be changed around. Goals are really steps to purpose. They are ways through which I attain my big picture. They can be changed, moved around, dropped. Purpose is the main cannot be changed. Learnig the difference has set me free to enjoy the process more.

    •  I love how you put it Ngina, Goals are really steps to purpose. That sums up the post perfectly.

  • Jeff

    I made significant progress toward my fitness goals after several weeks of focused effort.  After that time, I became injured and also distracted toward other activities that might be more suited to at least one of my original purposes: to be physically active, even if I don’t achieve low body fat.

    The whole point of exercise, for example, was just to feel better – not even to feel better about *myself*.  Just to feel better mentally and physically.

    But still, the goals remain.  If I have no goals, life just doesn’t feel right.

    •  I can understand that frustration Jeff. It’s difficult to see people arriving while we’re not. That’s the perfect thing to look for when setting or trying to complete a goal, our main motivation.

  • Pingback: Christian Writer: That Throne Doesn't Belong to You! | Godly Writers()

  • Pingback: Weekend Wanderings and Anniversary Giveaway! -

  • Love the Bruce Lee quote. So true!

    • Thanks Lorraine! How are you applying it to your life?

  • Pingback: Don't Let Procrastination Stop You - Joseph Lalonde()

  • Pingback: 10 Mistakes Leaders Make - Joseph Lalonde()