How many times have you heard this saying from people trying to get you to work hard in order to be successful? I can’t count how many times I have heard it. But the more I do, the more I tend to disagree with the rationale behind it. There seems to be a common understanding that you must suffer for a long time and not enjoy yourself before you can enjoy yourself one day – in the future. Life is not just about the destination. The truth is, no matter how much you achieve, accomplish and acquire in life, there is always something more to be had.
I read about a Harvard business student who got to meet with Warren Buffett. He told Warren Buffet about his plans for the next 10 years of internships, entry-level jobs at investment banks, and so on. Warren deduced from the conversation that the young chap was going to hate the whole process but would eventually get to a place where he would make a lot of money. Warren responded: “That’s like saving up sex for old age.”
This same notion applies to life. Most people are guilty of making their desired goals the focal point of their lives. They set goals after goals to jump to the next phase of their lives. They become constantly caught up in a rat race to accomplish more, get farther, climb higher and reach the top of the ladder of success. They often forget the process; they forget what truly matters, and that is the journey.
I used to often get so caught up in the ‘destination’ or in ‘reaching my goal’ that I forgot to enjoy the journey. I wasn’t flexible with the vehicle driving me to my destinations. I was somewhat stuck in a groove of servitude and convinced myself that it was the only route to where I was going until I decided to turn things up a notch last year.
This quote puts my last year into perspective: “Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”
Truly, 2019 has been my most memorable year yet. It was an amazing feeling to look back at the year and recognize all that I accomplished and how enjoyable the year had been. I may not have achieved all that I hoped to, but I learned so much more from my journey to achieving my goals, than from the carrot I received as a reward.
It is not always about the destination. There is more to life than suffering for a decade or more on something that does not give you joy, or on something that you hate, just so you get to a day when you would make lots of money so that you can ‘finally’ be happy because you reached your destination of a big pile of money. Science has shown that success is not the key to happiness. It is actually the other way around. Happiness often leads to success. The desperation to succeed can essentially undermine your happiness.
Enjoying the journey does not mean that we have to give up on our goals and aspirations, neither does it mean that we should spend work hours doing leisure activities. The key, however, is simply finding the right balance, ascertaining a mind-set that allows us to pursue big things without sacrificing the ‘little things’ that make life worth living. Just don’t let a single goal dictate your life. Far too many people put off what really matters in pursuit of the things they want to achieve. They tell themselves that they’ll worry about these things once they’ve reached their destination. They put off things like family, friends, health, building relationships, doing the things that they love, etc., and most of the time, these things are never re-discovered.
Perhaps you just aren’t enjoying the journey, perhaps you’re doing a job that you dread so much. Is there another way? Have you tried to make it more fun? Can you, at least, make it your goal to make it more fun? If possible, can you take a break to realign yourself and your priorities? While there will always be moments where anyone will have to do things they don’t like, you can also enjoy the journey to your destination in the long term and in the moment as well.
One of my all-time favourite songs, The Climb by Miley Cyrus, says to make the most of your experiences and enjoy the climb. We can only learn from the past. The present is all we have. Don’t get caught up in memories of the past or anxieties of the future. Don’t save ‘sex’ for when you are old and cranky! Enjoy the journey! Start now!