Workout of the Day

Guest Post: You’re Going to Fail, But You Don’t Have to Keep Failing


Guest post...

When you learn to meditate, you are directed to clear your mind, release your thoughts, and focus your attention only on your breath as you inhale and exhale. All well and good, until you realize that after a laughably short period of time, you’ve already stopped thinking about your breath and your mind has wandered to some other (often far more interesting) train of thought.

This can be frustrating or downright discouraging, especially if you believe that the goal of meditation is to empty your mind and reach some enlightened state of oneness with the world. Under that set of expectations, the moment you fail to keep yourself in that focused state, it feels like you have to start all over, that you’ve wasted all your progress leading up to that point. No wonder so many people struggle with or give up on meditation.

For most of us, achieving nirvana is not a reasonable initial goal, and the frustration that we feel when we inevitably fail to reach it keeps us from reaping the countless other benefits that come from the practice.

A much better approach to meditation is understanding that the goal isn’t to maintain perfect focus on your breath, but to strengthen your ability to return to that focus every time your mind wanders, knowing full well that it will do so frequently. Each time you start to follow some other train of thought is now an opportunity to build your ability to redirect your focus to the primary goal.

This perspective has valuable application beyond meditation, too. We all have various goals in our lives: goals related to fitness, diet, career, relationships, personal growth. And if you asked us rationally, most of us would probably acknowledge that it is impossible to bat a thousand on every single goal we set. And yet, how often do we abandon the pursuit of a goal the moment our attention wanders? There’ll be a moment that distracts you--a friend comes to visit from out of town, a holiday comes around, or you simply let yourself slide by cashing in too many “I’ve earned it” tokens. Life is a messy, complicated, distracting thing, and just like it’s not reasonable to believe that you will be able to reach nirvana your first--or even your thousandth--time meditating, it’s naive to think that you will nail your goals the first time you attempt them.

The most sustainable way I have found to maintain long term goals is to accept that your attention will wander. Your discipline will falter. You will step off the path and maybe even get lost. You are going to fail in larger and smaller ways.

But just like it’s not so hard to bring your attention back to your breath, it’s not that hard to return to your goals. And the better you get at returning, the less time you’ll spend off the path at all.

- Joy Sprimont


  • “Arnie”

  • With a single 70/53lb kettlebell, for time:

    • 21 Turkish get-ups, Right arm

    • 50 Swings

    • 21 Overhead squats, Left arm

    • 50 Swings

    • 21 Overhead squats, Right arm

    • 50 Swings

    • 21 Turkish get-ups, Left arm