I used to be all about the result—now, I’m about the process.
I’m a happier person today than I ever was in the past.
Do you think these things are related? I do.
I enjoy setting and achieving goals, and I love solving problems. But here’s the thing—what I enjoy about these things is the process of doing them: the pursuit, the creativity, the learning, the discovery.
I enjoy the journey—which is good since many times I don’t ever get where I’m trying to go.
I didn’t used to feel this way. My happiness used to rely on getting the desired results. So much of what I did felt like a stepping stone to the prize. When my path was delayed or stopped, I felt frustrated and annoyed, but I rarely let it stop me. I harnessed my determination and found a way over, under, around, or simply blasted through the obstacles. I change the rules like good ole Captain Kirk. If I really couldn’t get where I was headed, I’d aim for somewhere else. But I kept going. People admired my determination and achievements. And it would have been a good thing except that much of the time I didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I could have.
I was so busy blasting through obstacles that I missed the joy.
Not always. Just far too often.
I’ve had some amazing experiences. However, when I hear the comments of someone who was there along with me at the time, I realize what I missed. Too many times, their memory of the experience is more favorable than mine. I’ve also noticed that the younger I was during the experience, the more enjoyment I missed. Isn’t that sad? I could get pretty depressed about that realization, if I was still focused on achieving results. But since I am currently focused on the process, that realization energizes me.
I like finding examples of how my thoughts, words, and actions were misused and misdirected in the past.
The comparison of past to present validates my current methods which encourages me to continue in this direction. It provides me with new material on which to work—and I enjoy the work. Recognizing these missteps allows me to acknowledge and atone for the past, even the immediate past, which in turn allows me to grow in the present. Don’t these sound like bonuses? They feel like bonuses to me.
I benefit from this attitude on a daily basis when I am writing. I clearly have a goal, and there is definitely a quantifiable destination when a project is published or produced. However, the joy I experience is in the creation. This even includes rewrites! If I was focused on the result, then rewriting would feel like a delay or an obstacle, keeping me from the finish line. I would feel disappointed, frustrated, and disheartened every time I was asked to make some improvement or try something another way. Instead, I appreciate the opportunity to revisit my work with a fresh perspective.
I enjoy the process even when the task is challenging.
Especially when the task is challenging!
I feel the same way about personal transformation. My goal isn’t to arrive at a transcendent place, but rather to live in a transcendent way. As a result, I don’t feel disheartened by my missteps. They are not delaying my arrival. Those missteps, and my awareness of them, are an essential part of the moment by moment experience of mindful living.