Focus On Continuous Improvement
“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 is more important than the goal itself. Furthermore, the result may not be as significant as you’ve been led to believe. These are bold statements, yes, I know. Indulge me for a 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? After all, 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, the skills gained, the connections made and the inner growth which takes place.
Goal setting is a term burned into the psyche from an early age. Many people learn why goals represent the cornerstone of every victory, notwithstanding the foundations crucial to support those goals. Whilst there is merit in that advice, many successful people set out with little or no goals, yet still achieve notable success. Their underlying motivation is grounded in continuous improvement and gaining valuable skills. Nowadays, countless self-help books, blogs and master classes are devoted to coaching people on goal setting. The advice is to avoid setting unrealistic goals, since they’re less likely to be realised. Rather, the advice is to outline clear and manageable goals so they can be accomplished.
As you know, life never goes according to plan. There is always some unexpected detour that disrupts our progress. However, life is complete with the meaning we assign it. It is upheld by our passion toward our purpose. In keeping with the message of shifting focus off our goal, author Michael Neil reaffirms this point in his book Supercoach where he writes: “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.
The Journey Is A Process Of Refinement
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” — Arthur Ashe
1. Arriving Rather Than Striving:
Life is a series of smaller destinations. The goal in life is not to gain things or 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 give up the lessons and wonderful experiences that lie in between. Your subconscious mind and accompanying biology are formed in such a way to support your success. Appreciate the journey by trusting 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.
2. Take Your Eyes Off The Prize:
Have you ever undertaken a goal to lose weight, with a fixed number of weight to lose? Do you recall what method you used 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 in losing the weight, you gain 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 conveys in his acclaimed book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That is, you learn to preserve and enhance your personal self.
3. 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. In other words, those skills will be harnessed when the time is right.
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 successful people are adaptable. They know what they want and pursue their goals with intense determination. They are receptive to the process and do not have fixed outcomes on how their goals will be achieved. See if you can approach this new year with a renewed mindset to do things differently. Rest assured you’ll 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 process of refinement, leading you toward your ultimate victory; the accomplishment of your goal and the strength of character to match.