Is it wiser to ‘shoot for goals’ or ‘enjoy the process’?
I suppose it depends upon your perspective, but if we focus on goal attainment — rather than process — we may be wishing our lives away.
Here are a few examples of how you might consider shifting your perspective to become process-oriented, rather than goal-oriented:
A lot of people would like you to think losing 20 pounds will make you feel like a brand new person. While you’ll likely experience less joint pain, improved digestion, increased mental clarity, and more energy for your day, this isn’t an overnight change that suddenly happens when you go from 19 to 20 pounds of weight loss. In actuality, your body begins to improve the moment you make the decision to get healthier. Your mental clarity, energy level, boundless love, and dedication to self-improvement are one decision away from a massive shift. And once you make the decision, life is more enjoyable, so you may as well be proud of yourself now and begin enjoying the process. Along the way, I suspect you’ll find the likelihood for reaching your goals goes up, because you’re having fun.
If you’re in a relationship that leaves something to be desired, you might feel frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, or even scared at times. As a result, you may have set some goals to become more patient, loving, or understanding for your friend/partner/parent/loved one. One day — you might be telling yourself — things will be better. Love will be more present in your life, and the relationship will be easier and more enjoyable than it is right now. However, by wishing for something that doesn’t currently exist, you’re actually blocking yourself. Instead, you might consider shifting your perspective to positive momentum, rather than a specific outcome. The moment you shift your perspective to ‘positive momentum’ — rather than outcome — is the moment you’ll begin to enjoy your relationship. You’ll notice small things, take appreciation for the other person — as well as your own efforts — and you’ll start to feel gratitude. In the process, you’ll be increasing the likelihood this relationship meets your end goal, all because you began enjoying the process rather than seeking out your goal.
It’s possible you want to reach a certain ‘status’ in order to feel fulfilled by your education or career? You might be telling yourself something like: “when I get to x dollars per year, I’ll be so much happier.” The trouble with this rationale is the next goal is soon to follow. You’ll get there, realize you’re capable of growth, and set the next goal. Along the way, you’ll always be ‘almost’ there, instead of already there. When you take time to strategize how you can enjoy this moment in time, your positive attitude will become contagious, your growth goal will become easier to achieve, and you’ll enjoy your life each step of the way.
If you subscribe to the societal way of ‘getting there one day’, you may notice you’re approaching retirement age, still not completely fulfilled, and your energy level is dwindling down along the way. People — like friends or family members of yours — may start dying off, and life may look different than it does now. Priorities may shift towards spending time with children or grandchildren, and the ideas of “traveling one day” may seem less appealing. The ideals you set for your future many years ago may become less relevant, and you may look back at your life curious as to how you fell for this silly trick of reaching goals instead of enjoying your life.
Today’s thought exercise: The next time you think of a goal, go ahead and set it. Then, step back and think about why you’re dissatisfied with your life. Is there something you can do, today, to change how you feel? In other words, is there a single — and simple — action you can take that will act as proof you’re on the way? If so, you’ll be able to relax, enjoy the ride, and love your life right now.
‘One day’ thinking leads to a life full of dissatisfaction. It’s my wish for you to enjoy your life, right now. This doesn’t mean you can’t set goals, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t reach them; just the opposite, meaning your goals will be more easily attained, but reaching for them will become fun instead of a lesson in patience.
Sent to you with love, compassion, and gratitude,
Originally published at drkareem.com on July 28, 2017.