“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
The journey to reach your goals far exceeds the goal itself.
Moreover, the final outcome may not be as significant as you’ve been led to believe.
Two bold statements, yes I know. Indulge me for a brief moment as we explore further.
Reflect on a substantial goal you accomplished in the past year. Would you have reached the goal were it not for the steps taken to get there?
Goal attainment is a by-product of one’s journey. In the same way, losing weight is inevitable when you implement healthy nutritional habits and lifestyle changes.
The journey to achieve a goal is governed by: the person you become along the way, the skills acquired, the connections made and the inner growth which takes place.
Goal setting is a term burned into our psyche from an early age. We are told goals represent the cornerstone of every victory, notwithstanding the foundations which are crucial to support those goals.
Whilst there is some merit in that advice, you’ll be surprised to learn many successful people set out with little or no goals, yet still managed to achieve notable success. Their underlying motivation was grounded in continuous improvement and acquiring valuable skills.
Nowadays, countless self-help books, blogs and master classes are devoted to coaching people on goal setting. We’re counselled against setting unrealistic goals, since they’re less likely to be realised. Rather, it is advised to outline clear and manageable goals which affords you the opportunity to chart your progress more effectively.
Depicted in the following quote by Woody Allen is the understanding that there is a greater force operating in the backdrop of our lives managing the finer details, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
In keeping with the message of shifting focus off your goal, author Michael Neil reaffirms this point in his book Supercoach, “Obsessing about goals is like playing a game of fetch with yourself, using your happiness and self-worth as the bone.”
I wish to offer the following thoughts echoed in the advice to savour the journey rather than having a fixed outcome for your goals.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” – Arthur Ashe
Arriving Rather Than Striving: Life is a series of smaller destinations. The goal in life is not to acquire things or have certain people to complete you. Such goals are bound to cause suffering once they vanish from your life – easy come, easy go.
When your focus is on the goal alone, you forfeit the lessons and wonderful experiences that lie in-between. Your subconscious mind and accompanying biology are formed in such a way as to support your success. Appreciate the journey by trusting that you have the wherewithal to accomplish any task you set your mind upon, once your will and intention are firmly grounded. The journey is the essence of where life exists in all her glory.
Take Your Eyes Off The Prize: Have you ever undertaken a goal to lose weight, with a certain number in mind? Do you recall what method you employed to arrive at such a figure? I’m confident it was about as random as selecting numbers for the weekly lottery.
Goals are meaningless without the intermediary process to get you there. The journey is where your goals are formed and realised. You may find that in losing weight, you acquire certain skills or undertake several lifestyle changes which you previously would not have considered.
If you rush the process and achieve your goal in the shortest amount of time, you forego the experiences along the way which cement your new habits.
As you take your eyes off the prize and enjoy the journey, you develop the ability to sharpen the saw as Stephen Covey lays out in his acclaimed book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That is, you learn to preserve and enhance your personal self.
The Journey Builds Character: Character is shaped on the path to your goals. Strength of character is developed throughout the journey via the trials and lessons experienced.
You will call upon these lessons when you attain your goal, much like an athlete who spends countless hours in training, honing their performance. Those skills will be harnessed at the appropriate time.
Helen Keller reminds us of the virtue of character in the following quote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” You see, the journey becomes the focal point, since you gain innumerable resources along the way which renders the goal far more rewarding in the end.
You’ve heard it said that successful people are adaptable. They know what they want and pursue it with intense determination. They are receptive to the process of life and do not have fixed outcomes on how their goals will be achieved.
Now is a good time as any to take your foot off the accelerator and slip into cruise control. Rest assured you’ll continue to arrive at smaller destinations, which pave the way for a rewarding and fulfilling journey, replete with fulfilling life experiences.
More importantly the journey becomes a continual process of refinement, leading you toward your ultimate victory – the accomplishment of your goal and the strength of character to match.