You Are Not The Goal

Jim Lafferty & Melina Hammer PhotographyThe New Year feels like the perfect time to begin a new journey, and I, for one, am excited to see what 2014 has in store. I gave up the obligation of New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago; I simply grew tired of attaching my hope for happiness to a specific outcome only to fall short of the mark, or worse, to achieve my goal and feel exactly the same.

At the heart of my resolutions was the belief that the goal, itself, held the answers. When I looked closely at my goal – my desired outcome – I could see a hologram of the perfect me. I tethered my sense of Self to the mirage of an ideal. My deep yearning for wholeness held onto the hope that once I achieved my goal, I would finally feel like I had arrived. “Once I lose this weight, then I’ll be enough.” “Once [__________] happens, then my life can really start.”

If “Your Best You!” lies in the achievement of a resolution, failure to reach the goal is so much more than just failure; it implies that you are not enough without success.

The truth is that the results do not define who you are. YOU are beyond success and failure. Whether or not you succeed is irrelevant. The philosophy of yoga asks us to focus on the practice, not the destination. The essence of practice is the refinement of your own Self-understanding. And while working towards a worthy goal is a worthy goal in and of itself, the results do not, themselves, contain the answers – they are only the results of practice.

And so what if you fail? Failure holds within it the recipe for success. Failure asks us to dig deep and reassess our strategy and commitment. In failure we have to face ourselves. We have to get back up. This grit and resilience teaches us so much more about what really matters than any amount of success ever could.

And so what if you succeed? Success is only the celebration of failure. We lift our glass and toast all the sweat, blood, and tears that went into making it all possible. And while success can be wonderful, our enjoyment of it is so fleeting – it’s not long before we’re looking for the next mountain to climb. You can achieve all of the success in the world and still feel unsatisfied.

On a personal level, I find success to be a very strange thing. Whenever I achieve a goal, it never feels the way I thought it would. In fact, the feelings I often equate with success are felt on the path towards my goal. I think this is a powerful reminder not to look for myself in the results.

When I catch myself attaching to a particular outcome, I have to remind myself that whatever it is I’m looking for is not waiting for me at the finish line. Everything I’m looking for exists within me always, and the journey (towards success or failure) exists to reveal this truth to me again and again.

The process initiates a connection to my Self. One of my favorite quotes is from The Bhagavad Gita, which says, “On this path, no effort is ever wasted.” This has always given me heart when I fall down. Nothing, not even failure, is wasted. My experiences, good and bad, always lead me to myself in the end.

This year, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, I’m setting an intention. I’m committed to a positive, open attitude. I’m concerned with being good to myself; whether that means eating more or less croissants remains to be seen. To keep these intentions in mind as I move toward personal or professional goals will remind me that my attitude in the process is more valuable than the outcome.

Here is my wish for us as we enter into a New Year: May we all have the courage to step onto the path that leads us to a place beyond success or failure—beyond the expectation of an outcome that promises the answers you already have. May we remember that it’s the process, not the goal that reveals our truth, and that the road always leads us back home.

Love,

Chrissy

###

Chrissy Carter is a passionate yoga teacher and domestic enthusiast. You can take class with her in New York at YogaWorks, online at GaiamTV.com, or with her Gaiam DVD, Beginning Yoga. Learn more at chrissycarter.comFacebook, and Twitter.

  • Shoshanna

    Chrissy, this is excellent. Big goals, small goals, or NO goals – Being present on your path is everything.

    • Chrissy Carter

      Thanks Shoshanna! Being present on the path IS everything! Presence leads us not to THE outcome, but to OUR outcome.

    • The Daily Love

      Thank you for reading, Shoshanna! So happy that you enjoyed this post!
      -Team TDL

  • Annie Fitzgerald

    This is so beautifully said, Chrissy! Such a great reminder that it’s about the journey. Thank you for sharing and Happy New Year to you. xo

    • The Daily Love

      So happy that you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading and sharing with us!
      -Team TDL

  • joy

    You also taught me to surround my intention with compassion. That helps me have a soft landing, no matter where I am. Sweet year beautiful teacher.

    • The Daily Love

      Joy, so glad that you enjoyed this article and that you are so gentle and kind to yourself! Thanks for reading and sharing with us!!
      -Team TDL

  • Maggie

    I love this, Chrissy! It seems so much more fulfilling to live every day with intention. When we bank our happiness solely on our success, we suffer more. Also, we never really know the ending. The story is still unfurling.

    • The Daily Love

      Yes, Maggie!! So glad to hear that you can connect to this! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!!
      -Team TDL

  • Nicole

    So true, so inspiring and so powerful. Thank you, Chrissy!

  • Holly Ramey

    “Success is only the celebration of failure”- I love it, what a great reminder to enjoy the journey. Thanks Chrissy!