Mental Mechanics: Embrace the Journey

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.” 

  –     Louis L’Amour

One thing I know for sure is that we all have dreams. We all have an idea of a better life situation and a vision of things we hope to accomplish. Life is full of opportunities, and we are hard-wired to seek them out and try to succeed. We live in a forward-looking, goal-pursuing, results-focused society. We are living in a box-checking culture, one where results are easier to measure and evaluate than the processes we use to get there. It would seem as though the best way to reach a desired result would be to place intense focus it, keep driving toward it and judge progress by how closely we continuously are. While this may get us closer to our outcome, this approach is far from optimal and opens the door for challenges.

One of the biggest challenges we often face is focusing too much on receiving happiness from the outcome, and missing out on the glories that we can experience on the journey. If we focus our attention and effort less on the results and more on the processes and techniques we use to move forward, we will learn faster, become more successful, and be happier with the outcome. Focusing on process will let us fully engage with the present and experience it more completely, which helps us to truly experience life. I love to hike, and I have learned that each time I figure out how to work around a boulder, or climb over a downed tree, it makes it easier to approach the next one. By learning along the way, and focusing fully on the trail itself, it feels that much sweeter to make it to the summit. Take time today to explore a big goal that you are working toward. Are you focusing more on achieving this goal, or on the journey itself? What can you learn from your journey that will allow you to be successful, not just with this goal, but with other areas of your life as well? We have only partial control over whether we reach a specific external goal. However, we have complete control over the processes we use and our reactions to the journey. We are in control of the level of effort we give, the amount of focus we have, and the resilience we show when things get tough. This is your life; make it look the way you think it should. Dream big, work hard and enjoy the many lessons along the way.