They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This quote doesn’t only justify the importance of taking a step and gradual progression but also incorporates the idea of appreciating the process, that is, the steps that follow and ultimately connect you to your goal, which is your destination.When the joy of the journey finally kicks in, you’re on your way to a life and lifestyle of your making and design.
The world we live in is so results focused. Oftentimes, we’re made to believe that it’s only the results that matter and anything different from that is just noise. However, what we often ignorantly neglect is the fact that we lose our values and even have the tendency of losing ourselves, our beliefs, and our identity when all we concentrate on is getting the result.
A thorough drive towards results and just that alone has driven many to compromise and land themselves in a pool of regrets and a place where they feel lost. This nasty cycle of chasing results seems unending and society never helps. I mean, a lot of people are only interested in associating themselves with winners, and because people understand the level of rejection and scorn they’ll receive from the society if they do not “win”, they’re incited to have a taste of this “association and recognition” that comes from winning and they would go to the end of the earth (if that’s what it takes) to win.
While there’s nothing wrong with having the desire to win and giving your all to get what you desire, the problem starts when you begin to fail to recognize that everything in life is about stages, phases, and processes. It’s all these things that give you the results you desire, which is the outcome, and this outcome embodies your total efforts. When you keep your eyes fixed on just the outcome alone, you miss out massively on the “journeying experience” that transports you to “where you want to be” and in the long run, the outcome you receive may end up only giving you a temporary satisfaction that will eventually leave you feeling empty or incomplete. For instance, let’s say you are a footballer and you have been looking forward to a very decisive and life-changing match that can turn your life around and spark up the career of your teammates.
Normally, the media and the audience would be looking forward to the outcome because, to them, that’s what matters most. It’s very much likely that you may begin to feel the same way too when the pressure to win begins to set in. Now, let’s say you and your other team choose to think alike and focus on just the outcome. You entered the field and gave it all. Whether you eventually win or lose, you all will share the same feeling of “now it’s over” and the excitement from winning may not even last long.
However, when you and the team choose to focus on the process; you laughed hard at the jokes cracked about the coach, you hung out with your teammates, you enjoyed the training and felt the oneness and common goal shared, you enjoy the thrills of the bus rides, and basked in the shenanigans in the locker room. This is all about the process. The result of the match, whether positive or negative, will only make you stronger and you’ll feel more connected and not demotivated. Learning to focus more on the process will fetch you more benefits and this book is geared towards helping you get on the process track and not on the results.
The Significance of the Process
I am always fascinated by babies and toddlers. Why? They take their time to do everything and go through each stage and they never rush themselves. From crawling and standing to walking and running, they’re very diligent about all the processes they go through and they’re never scared to rise again every time they fall. However, one must also not rule out the role parents play in ensuring that they don’t kill the confidence of these little ones. I believe no parents would shame or yell at their little children for falling while trying to walk because of the implications of causing fear that may bring about a delay in walking. But it’s quite heartbreaking that once we become adults, we tend to degrade ourselves. Why?
Most of us are so concerned about the world that we’re quick to think of what people would say if we didn’t do well, if we would make a fool of ourselves, or if we would eventually fail. This kind of thinking is stemming from a results-focused mindset. If we can think of the possibility of learning new things, trying new things along the way, putting our all into it, and looking forward to the exciting new challenge, which is process-focused thinking, we’ll be able to live more and thrive.
The danger in having your eyes only on the outcome is that you give the outcome the value and power to determine your worth plus you’ll keep stopping yourself dead at the starting gate if you keep letting your performance define your worth. However, you’ll enjoy better rewards and more excitement when you give your best and attach your efforts to your sense of worth. More so, you’re less likely to worry much about the outcome when you don’t define yourself by the outcomes but by your efforts, and this will also help you stay present.
Why you Must Not Focus on the Outcome
A lot of people, when you attempt to tell them how unhealthy it is to focus on the results, will tell you is that “it’s all that matters anyway”. However, are there implications attached to focusing solely on the outcome? Let’s look at this concept of finding the joy of the journey together.
It Makes you Miserable…
If there’s one last feeling we don’t want to experience, it’s probably feeling miserable. However, you may not be far from this miserable feeling if you’re always about the result and nothing else. This explains why Naval Ravikant once said that choosing to be sad till you get what you want is a contract of desire. When you finally get that result (but an unexpected one), you will feel very miserable because everything has always been about this outcome, and this outcome eventually failed you.
Even when the result is positive, the happiness you enjoy is short-lived and lasts only briefly because your mind will start thinking of what is next again. An outcome-focused approach makes you dwell on negative feedback heavily and when failure comes, its sting lingers heavily. Ironically, the high of success doesn’t last longer than the smell of perfume.
Achieving your goal can be made more complicated and difficult if you adopt an outcome-focused approach. The reason for this isn’t far-fetched. When everything about you is connected to the outcome solely, you’re likely to become nervous, you’ll be prone to stress, be very disorganized, and end up feeling tired.
The Status Quo Doesn’t Change…
Focusing on the outcome will not bring about any change to the series of things you’ve neglected. If you have underlying bad habits but your focus is always on your career goals, revenue goals, exercise goals, or even weight goals, you may only be running around the same circle with nothing to show for it. You are prone to neglecting the process when you focus on the outcome and mind you, you can only alter the outcome through intentional changes in the process.
Lack of Patience…
An impatient mind is one that adopts an outcome-focused approach. This impatient mind will push you to seek advice from faux self-proclaimed gurus, and bustle for shortcuts as you keep getting mesmerized by the thoughts of your expected outcome coming through. A professional will prioritize the process but an amateur would only have his eyes on instant results instead of digging for the joy of the journey.
Benefits of Focusing on the Process and Joy of the Journey, Instead of the Results
While focusing on the results have its downsides, focusing on the process, however, offers more positive returns, and here are some of the benefits
It Removes all Distractions
Your distractions begin to reduce drastically as soon as you start focusing on what you must do to arrive at your desired place. This is the “joy of the journey” process. It comes with identification, understanding, better clarity, and implementation. On this journey to arrive at the accomplishment of your goal, the advancement occurs gradually and you’ll be able to remove anything that’s wasting your time.
You Start to Enjoy the Work
Most people who only focus on the outcome are often people who do not love what they do. So, they just want to get through it and be done. Only if they can go with the process, they’ll begin to find the excitement that lies in each phase’s adventure.
As a matter of fact, you’re bound to hate what you’re doing if your focus is only on the results, and this is simply because the result is in the future but you’re still in the present, and your inability to arrive there quickly will only make you sad. The process helps you learn, grow, evolve, and enjoy better engagement with the tasks at hand.
You Take Control
People who focus on the process are those who are present and not anxious about “what will happen” or “what if it fails”. They understand that the process connects them with both problems and opportunities and these problems themselves have opportunities embedded in them that will help them grow, learn, and see things in a different way. They also understand that they can only focus on what they can control and not what’s out of their control and this does help them enjoy success, higher self-esteem, and empowerment.
Do you know why people often say experience is the best teacher? It’s simply because experience is a product of processes and without one going through the process intentionally, there can’t be experience. When you go through this process and gain experience, you become more competent and confident.
You Will Appreciate the Results More
Remember that an outcome-focused approach will make your success last only for a short while? A process-focused approach will do the opposite to you. That is, it will make you enjoy the results a whole lot more. Why? The process helps you understand that you earn this rightfully without cutting corners or taking shortcuts and it just makes you appreciate all the moments and experiences that contribute to the successful outcome. Sounds sweet right?
I’m Connie Ragen Green, focused on the process of bringing the joy of the journey to my life. Come along with me for my complimentary Action Habits Challenge and we’ll walk the path to success and a lifestyle by design, together.