Your Journey vs Your Goal (Or, a word of warning for the ambitious):

“Money doesn’t change you- it just highlights who you already were”…

Let’s go back- many years ago now, in fact…

We’re going back to when I was in preschool- that far. But I remember it still: the wooden pirate ship where my friend and I hid every day when the teachers called us in for nap time- thinking today would be different and they’d miss us. Nap time itself- lying there in the cot, bored out of my brain while they played new-agey music in the hope it would lull us to sleep (and I imagine the teachers looked forward to coffee, gossip and a brief respite from dealing with a classroom of unruly 4 and 5 year olds!). I remember being in the playground one day, the smell of damp autumn leaves covering the ground, blue gym mats laid out, kids playing in a stainless steel sandbox, thinking about how my cousins were coming over to our house tomorrow and looking forward to that…

From my recollections, it was the first time I’d ever thought about something in the future- and that memory itself is now almost 30 years in the past.

But I also remember one of the albums Mum played in the car around that time. And from that album, this famous track was my favourite:

I loved the fast tempo, the aggressive electric guitar riff that underpins the whole song, and the guitar solo at the end that breaks away and fades out with the track. The whole song, to my 4 year old self, just felt badass.

What’s interesting though is when you read the lyrics- because while the song is about chasing a dream, in the timeline of the song we never actually reach that dream. It is, in fact, a “moment in time”, of pursuing that dream, on a journey from a to b.

Then there was the major assignment I had for Year 7 English- we’d read ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’ by Roald Dahl, both autobiographies covering his childhood and then his adult life as well. Our assignment was to write our own autobiographies- tell the story of our lives in the 12 or 13 years of their entirety…

But what I fondly remember most to this day wasn’t handing the assignment in.

It wasn’t getting 50/50 for my efforts either (can you blame me for bragging about this one?)

No, what I remember fondly is getting to take a day off school to write the thing. Mum and Dad were at work, my sister was at preschool- so I had the house to myself. I spent the day channelling memories and the stories of my life, writing them down, then taking a break to go watch TV for a bit or make lunch- before going back to my craft. It was a great day where I wrote something start to finish, and had a lot of fun doing so.

Reading some of my recollections out to the class, everybody laughing at my stories, the top marks I got- those were just the cherry on top!

Just recently, I was at a business get together where a colleague of mine took us all through goal-setting, step by step. We each had to write down a goal, and then take it to pieces to itemise the finer details of achieving that goal- how we were going to do it, what we needed to obtain, how we imagined feeling once we achieved that goal. Upon completion, attendees reported feeling a sense of new-found clarity about achieving their goals, and my colleague really showed his worth in taking us through this exercise.

Yet here’s the important thing to remember about the goals we set-

We can become so fixated on our goals that we ignore arguably the best part of going for said goals: it’s not the achievement itself where you feel the most contentment. It’s the journey itself!

Stop for a second and cast your mind back to something you set out to do, a goal you envisaged. Got it? Now ask yourself this, and be honest: was the point when you achieved your goal at last the most memorable, or was it everything you did up until that point instead?

Time after time- it’s not about the goal, but about the memories we create, the people we meet and the person we become on the way to reaching that goal. This has been the premise of countless best-selling movies and novels, and with good reason.

You see, in my earlier days of business, I made the mistake of imagining a future point in time where I’d have a certain professional profile, drive a certain car, have made a certain amount of money and live in a particular house- and how good it would feel to know I’d “made it”. Understandable sure, because I was just starting out and of course you think about how you want your business venture to end. But then one day, I did something a little out of the ordinary: I sat back and visualised living in that house I wanted to end up in. I imagined having reached those other goals, achieved them, and sitting in the spacious living room looking out over the balcony of my place, every little detail clear…

Then after about 5 minutes, I thought “Ok- now what?”

In just 5 minutes, I’d discovered something about our big, audacious goals: they are not the be-all and end-all. No doubt you’ve had other goals you set yourself throughout your life, then reached them- and guess what? You didn’t suddenly start feeling happy did you? You didn’t suddenly think “Now I can just cut right back and do nothing for the rest of my time here because I achieved X” did you?

I think back to my Fight Like A Pro experience

Sure, Fight Night itself was memorable…but after that one night, it was over. No more training, no more preparation for that big night- it was over, done. I passed (as best you can ‘pass’). But after about a week, I understood why so many guys went back and trained at the gym after their initial Fight Night had been and gone, why more than a few fighters on the card were guys who’d done this several times before as well. Because even now, I fondly remember that 10 week experience- getting fitter, getting better at fighting and learning about myself- the whole journey all the way up to Fight Night. 1 night vs 10 weeks- which do you think contains more fond memories?

We can look at other people in our field or even just in business generally who we think “have it made”, and be tempted to imagine how much better we’d feel overall if we were ever in their position. But here’s what so many people don’t realise before it’s too late-

You’d get there- achieve that big audacious goal- and realise that wasn’t “it”- and be left feeling the same way you did achieving all those other goals you’ve achieved in life:

Is this it?

I wrote more about enjoying the journey, here: This Is What Gratitude Really Gives You

But today I wanted to encourage you to re-think how you regard those goals you have, whether it be on a professional or personal level. Not that you shouldn’t aim for them (as long as your heart is in them, of course) but to appreciate the journey itself- the simple “doing” part of whatever it is you do-

Because one day, it’ll be what you remember fondly- so enjoy it while it lasts!

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