Embrace the Journey…and the Transformation
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. — Martin Buber
With the start of a new year, we look to create a better or different future for ourselves. We set detailed, SMART goals with clear milestones and go after them like a sleep-deprived, caffeine addict after that first incredible cup of coffee. I should know as I have been the reigning queen of resolution making and the associated plans, charts, and resources to make them happen.
Unfortunately, despite this laser focus on goals with clear outcomes, I wasn’t achieving the results I was looking for. To correct this, I made smarter goals looking not only to make them specific, measurable, achievable, and timebound but added the risky, relevant and exciting to make my goals even smarter. While this did make my goals look good on paper, I still wasn’t achieving them. It wasn’t until I began focusing on the journey that I began to see results and better outcomes.
Research shows that while we think that achieving our big goals will help us feel happier, the reality is that achieving the goal only provides a short-term boost in our feelings. We are better served by focusing on daily happiness and gratitude — embracing the journey for all its moments and wins.
Think back to the last time you set a goal. Did you know all the steps that you would need to take? Did you know the different outcomes that you could achieve? When you are focused on getting from point A to B, you have the tendency to put the blinders on and ignore anything else. While this might move you forward to your goal, it can quickly kill any joy you might have in the exploration.
Some of the best trips I’ve ever taken have been a result of being clear on my goal, but flexible on the approach. While in Ireland, we had planned to tour the Dingle Peninsula but due to a bus accident the narrow roads were essentially blocked. As our goal was to explore the scenery and walk along the cliffs, we ended up on Loop Head Peninsula where we visited the most amazing tea and art shop, ate dinner at the last place before New York, and saw some of the filming locations for Star Wars. Had we went to the Dingle Peninsula, we would have missed all of these and I would argue, the richer experience we had on Loop Head.
The beauty of being focused more on the journey and the transformation that you are going through is that it also gives you the time you need to ruminate in the new mindset, feelings, and emotions you are inevitably going to experience. What many of us don’t realize is that our actions and outcomes (goals) are a direct result of our thoughts and feelings and those are highly driven by our perceptions — of ourselves, others, and the situations we are in — as well as our mindset.
By creating the space for exploration, we are also better able to develop the habits and behaviors you need in order to sustain your goal. Each decision you make is a vote for or against the person you want to become as well as a vote for enjoying the present moments rather than living for the future. With that in mind, what moments have you celebrated this week? What choices did you make that you were proud of?