Monday 15 February 2016

The journey

Have you ever worked towards something you really wanted for many months, even years? You sweat, you cry, you swear, you despair. You also collect small victories along the way, little sparks that keep your dream alive and your motivation strong. 

You fumble sometimes, on those dark days when you ask yourself why you even bother; why do you torture yourself, going through all that effort, work, and worry? But then you picture yourself at the moment you will reach your goal. You can see yourself: reaching that tremendous milestone, you will feel on top of the world! Invincible and happier than you ever have been before! The countless hours of sweat, blood and tears will pay off in that one moment ...

... hang on a minute. 

How long will that moment actually last? A few minutes? A day? Maybe a week? Whatever it is, it will be minuscule compared to the thousands of hours you spent working towards it. It must be something damn special to warrant all that work for such a short-lived reward. 

That's what I should have asked myself. 

But I never did. 
The goal was always what was foremost on my mind: 
How I would look the day I finally reached my goal weight. 
What others would say if I finally managed to do that acrobatic yoga pose I'd been working on for months.
How over-the-moon ecstatic I would be on "the happiest day of my life", my wedding day. 
The feeling of accomplishment I would have on the day I finally deserved to be called a writer.

I focused on the wrong thing. 

You see, all of these things happened in one form or another for me. Not all of them the way I imagined them; but they did become real in some fashion. And I learnt a hard lesson: The destination is way less rewarding than I imagined. 

As other people hug you and congratulate you, asking how excited you are and how amazing it must feel, you smile on the outside and panic on the inside: What the hell is wrong with you? Why don't you feel happier about your achievement? Everybody around you tells you that this is a reason to celebrate, and all you can think about is this: shouldn't you be happier? More appreciative? Where is the promised feeling of elation and bliss?

What I didn't consider is that all those kind and well-meaning people only see the end result. They weren't there for the entire journey: The long, lonely hours of hard, unglamorous work. The never-ending practice, all those countless falls, the endless cycle of write-and-delete, the moments of exhilaration when an idea struck, and the moments of frustration when it didn't work out. 

They weren't there. All they get to witness is a tiny part of it all, the very tip of a huge iceberg of experiences and emotions. They get to see the 1% of the final result; you were there for the entire ride. 

Is it any surprise then that you can't feel 100% of the emotion for that last 1% of your journey? You have felt it all throughout, day after day, week after week, while everybody around you was blissfully unaware of what you were doing. They didn't walk that path with you. You experienced the entire scale of emotion many times over, from the thrilling top to the despairing depths. 

The goal is not what your dream was ever about. 
It was always about the journey.  

If you don't enjoy the journey, don't do it just for the reward at the end. It won't be worth it, I can promise you. 

If you have ever starved yourself for a class reunion in the hopes that the look at your arch-enemy's face would be worth the sacrifice, you know that you should have eaten the cookie. And the entire pizza, too. 
It's never worth it. 
She didn't really care, did she? And the condescending "you look good" didn't feel nearly as satisfying as you dreamed it would, did it? 
I hear ya. Been there, done that.  

However, if you are changing your lifestyle because you want to, for yourself, and you get satisfaction throughout, you know you're on the right track. All the power to you, girlfriend!

I used to have the vague idea that if everything I ever wanted would be mine, I would sit back, put my feet up, survey it all with a proud grin on my face and - what? I hadn't thought that far.

I'm learning that by the time you have reached your goal, you will already be working on the next one. You may stop for a moment, look around you and allow yourself a sense of pride (and bewilderment, if you're anything like me), and then continue on.

Because, as it turns out, it's not about the end result; it's all about the journey.
You will never be "finished".

And isn't that what keeps life exciting?




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