“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
We say this about life in general, but we neglect it when making our New Year’s resolutions. We focus on attaining specific goals within the course of the year, often paying little attention to what happens along the way. I didn’t think about that concept until this post by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy opened my eyes to its truth.
We focus so much on making S.M.A.R.T. goals that we lose track of any progress we might make if we fall short of our final goals in the end. If we’re only measuring the end product, we’re more likely to be disappointed in ourselves because we neglect the steps we took in the right direction, even if we didn’t get as far as we initially wanted.
Every step in the right direction counts, even if there are backward steps thrown in. We can have big dreams and goals for ourselves, but if we don’t learn to appreciate small growth toward them and enjoy the journey, we’re likely to get burned out and give up, thinking we’ll never accomplish what we’ve set out to achieve.
After all, getting to the goal is not all that exists. Sometimes, the trip is just as great as the destination. If vacation was only composed of the arrival at a destination and getting back home, what rest would it give? Vacation is about the trip, and work can be the same, if we choose to find meaning in the process rather than just the product.
-Michael Mahan, Relevant Magazine
I’ve seen this to be true when I set out to do something big and plow right through to the end in order to check it off my to-do list. For instance, I have a bad habit of reading books so quickly that I don’t retain any of what I’ve read. I certainly don’t enjoy them as much when I don’t let myself slow down and savor them. But when I do intentionally consume them at a more relaxed pace, I find myself craving book after book every time I finish one. Approaching my goal to read more from this perspective– to go slowly enough to truly enjoy each one– is more likely to motivate me to read more than setting a numerical goal that I feel pressured to reach as soon as possible by reading as many as I possibly can, as fast as I can.
Today, as Gold’s Gym declares a fitness cliff and abandonment of New Year’s resolutions, I am committing myself to pursuing healthier, slower, more intentional lifestyle changes instead of resolutions that feel like obligatory tasks to check off a list. I don’t have a definitive goal in mind or specific metric for gauging my progress this far, but I want to challenge myself to continually be growing in strength, push myself outside of my comfort zone, try new things, improve my eating habits, and ultimately find rest.
As I strive to achieve these things, I believe I will see positive results. I don’t know exactly what they will look like, but that’s kind of exciting, thinking there will be little surprises for me along the way that I would otherwise have passed right by on my way to the finish line. And I know I will enjoy the journey.