Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
I’ll be happy when I move to London.
I’ll be happy when I get my first freelance writing client.
I’ll be happy when I can quit my job as a personal assistant to focus on my side hustle.
As I achieved each goal, I kept moving the goalpost further and further away. I was so sure the next dream would be the one, the dream that’d make me happy ever after.
It never happened. Turns out, happiness is in the journey, not in the outcome.
You need to have goals and dreams to aspire to, but if you make them responsible for your happiness, you’ll miss out on the best parts of your life.
Here’s how I learned over the years to enjoy the journey and release the outcome:
The Problem With Focusing On The Outcome Rather Than The Journey
When you’re working towards a goal, it’s totally normal to think of the destination and what will happen once you get there.
But when that’s all you focus on, bad things start to happen:
- You can be happy only when you reach your goal: Making your dreams come true is a process that requires lots of daily mundane activities. If you don’t enjoy them, you’ll spend 99% of your time feeling miserable, resentful, and wondering if it’s all worth it. And what if, once your reach your goal, it doesn’t bring the happiness you thought it would?
- You can’t control the outcome: You can give it your best shot, but there’s no guarantee things will turn out exactly like you planned. They almost surely won’t. Focusing on the things you can’t control only stresses you out and makes the journey less pleasant.
- You’ll make wrong choices: Focusing on the outcome may lead you to make the wrong decisions just to get there faster. Think of all the influencers who are buying followers so they can be paid the big bucks to work with brands. Or the girls who take dangerous diet pills to shed the pounds faster. Shortcuts aren’t worth it. They’ll only set you back in the long run.
How To Enjoy The Journey, Not The Outcome
1. Focus On What You Have
It’s human nature to focus on what you don’t have.
When I was trying to build my freelance writing business, I’d compare myself with the successful writers I admired. They had written articles for prestigious publications, had beautiful websites to showcase their expertise, and a rolodex full of editors’ contact details…
Meanwhile, I barely had a one page portfolio online and was struggling to get noticed by any editor…
You know what they say, comparison is the thief of joy. It’s also one of the fastest ways to sabotage yourself.
What you focus on, grows. If you focus on all the things you don’t have, that’s all you see. Before you know it, you convince yourself you don’t have what it takes. Better throw in the towel, now.
The opposite is true. If you focus on all the things you have, your confidence will grow. I may not have had a fancy website, but I had writing skills, the creativity to come up with good article pitches, and the determination to keep going. When I focused on these things, I knew it’d be only a matter of time before I got my big break.
You can focus on what you think you lack and become a victim to your surroundings. Or you can focus on everything that you have and start taking charge of your future.
The choice is yours.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Next time you feel like you can’t do something or don’t have what it takes to make your dreams come true, jot down all the things you currently have and can do. Hang the list where you’ll see it every day. It’ll help you reframe your thoughts, so you can focus on what matters.
2. Be Grateful For Where You Are
It’s not enough to focus on the positive. You have to be grateful for what you have and where you are right now.
Instead than being miserable that your business isn’t growing fast enough, be grateful that you have the chance to have your own business. You’re living your dream and doing what you want to do – even if you’re having a bad day or a bad week.
If you say you have nothing to be grateful for, then you haven’t searched deep enough. You can be grateful you’re healthy and strong. Have a place to live. Air in your lungs that’s keeping you alive. Your writing skills. Your infectious laughter.
Don’t take anything for granted. Everything is a gift.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Every morning when you wake up, write down 3 things you feel grateful for today. It can be something small as a warm cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning or a sunny day in winter. Jot it all down.
3. How Do You Want To Feel?
You think that once you achieve a certain goal or have a certain amount of money in the bank, you’ll be happy.
But it’s not the goal you’re chasing. It’s the way it’ll make you feel.
You don’t want a lot of money so you can bathe in a sea of coins like Scrooge McDuck. You want money because of the feeling of freedom you believe money will bring you.
So start with the feeling. Figure out what activities will make you happy and bring you those joyful feelings. Then, do more of those.
I feel most happy and alive when I write. But the second I hop on social media, I fall into the comparison trap and start to feel inadequate. So I hired a VA to handle Instagram while I spend most of my time writing articles for this blog.
You’ll enjoy the journey more if you spend your time doing the things that make you feel like you want to feel.
TAKE ACTION NOW
How do you want to feel and what can you do right now to create those feelings? Jot it down and create a plan your action to fill your journey with activities that inspire you.
4. Detach From The Outcome
I know, easier said than done. If you’re putting in all that effort to start your business, write that book, get your master’s degree, you want to know you’ll succeed.
Problem is, there are no guarantees in life. You can write the best book in the world and only a handful of people will read it.
So, how do you know if all the effort is worth it? Ask yourself this, would you write that book, start that business, pursue that dream even if you failed?
Of course I want The Treasures Within to flourish. I’m giving it my best shot to spread the word and grow the business. But if it never gets as big as I want it to, I’m ok with that.
Because I’m having the time of my life. Because I know I’m doing what I’m on this planet to do. Because I wake up in the morning excited that I get to do what I love.
The more you do what you love every day, the more you’ll enjoy the journey – and the less the outcome matters.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Think of a goal or dream you’d like to achieve right now. Are you happy doing it for the sake of it or are you pursuing it because you want a certain result? If that latter, let that dream go. It wouldn’t make you happy, anyway.
5. Celebrate The Process
When you have a big goal, it’s easy to think you haven’t succeeded until you’ve reached it. But this completely ignores all the progress and small milestones you’ve achieved along the day.
Let’s say you’re writing a book. Instead than waiting for publication day to celebrate your achievement, break the task down into smaller steps – and celebrate each one of them.
Celebrate when you’ve finished each chapter. When you get your cover. When you upload your manuscript on Amazon.
Focusing on each milestone will make you realise how much you’ve done already and will give you the motivation to keep going.
Enjoying the little stops along the journey matters more than arriving at your destination.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Create a Done List. Break down your dream into smaller tasks and whenever you achieve one, add it to the list. Hang it somewhere you can see it often. When you’ll feel like giving up, it’ll give you the strength to push forward.
Over to you, now. How did you learn to enjoy the journey instead than the destination? Share your experience in the comments below.