By nature, I am very task oriented. Few things are as intoxicating to me as the feeling that I have achieved something. It’s what I live for. So this phase of my life, marked by a startling lack of achievement, feels like my own personal hell. I am accomplishing absolutely nothing. Nothing is happening. So I feel like my life is worthless, useless, and fruitless — a complete waste of time.
However, over the last several weeks I have been hearing a lot of people talking about something that is foreign to me: enjoying the journey to achieving your goals. Who me? I don’t care about the journey. All I care about is the destination. For me, the journey really doesn’t matter.
As I reflect on this, I wonder if my focus on reaching that destination, that goal, is the root of my constant frustration. I am frustrated with this phase of my life. I am not living my purpose. I have not reached my ideal weight. I still haven’t finished that novel. My accomplishments are few and far between. What I fail to consider is that though I am not accomplishing, I am journeying.
I am moving toward that nebulous life purpose (in theory). I am getting closer to that ideal weight. And I am making progress on that novel (when I actually sit down and write). But with my personality, is it even possible for me to enjoy this stage? I am not convinced.
Instead of focusing on achievement, what if I chose to focus on growth? What if I made it my goal to learn and grow every day? How would my outlook change? How would it change the way I spend my time? How would it change my perception of this stage of my life?
My guess is that some of the frustration could be alleviated. But how will I keep my focus on personal growth and development when I do not see the results I desire? I have two ideas about this:
Recognize progress. This can be done in a number of ways. One way is to track efforts. Keep a food journal. Log writing time on the schedule. These will keep a record of what you’re doing. At those times when it seems like nothing is happening, the records will be proof that progress is being made.
Another way to recognize progress is with regular evaluations. In school they give tests. It’s a way of measuring where you are. Step on the scale, or try on clothes to see how the weight loss is going. Check the your word count. Give yourself a test. When moving toward a goal, it’s important to know how you’re progressing. A regular assessment will help tremendously. It gives a slight sense of accomplishment (which is better than no sense of accomplishment).
Incorporate things you enjoy into your routine. My quest for fitness requires that I exercise. That’s not a problem because I enjoy biking and running. I focus my exercising on these two because I will enjoy the journey to fitness much more than if I decided to make a fool of myself by playing tennis. My complete lack of skill would make a tennis workout seem like a morally acceptable form of torture. Biking and running pass the time quickly, and that makes the journey much more pleasant.
To make my journey more enjoyable, I am also taking a literature course. It occupies my mind, and I write a graded essay every week. Getting that grade gives me a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, the little things make all the difference.
I have to agree with other authors that perspective plays a big part in how we feel about the journey. However, that’s not the whole story. Part of it is taking action to increase your enjoyment as you move toward your goals. I will adjust my mindset, but I will also take action, and hopefully, I will get more enjoyment out of the journey.