If you find that your festive spirit is frequently interrupted by nagging-streams of consciousness this time of year, do not pout, do not cry, and do not shout (at the braggadocious brother)…it’s not his fault, and I’ll tell you why. You’re being haunted by the Ghost from January’s Goals-List Past.
“Give more to charity. Eat better. Work out more often. Get out of debt. Research and apply to grad school…”
Any of these tasks ring a Salvation Army holiday bell?
Before you recoil at this goal-life revelation in horror, let’s keep it “100”: while some of us spent 2010 checking our goals list – twice – others haven’t been racing to remind ourselves of what we haven’t yet done these past 11 + months! And we’re now feeling a tad bit like loser-ish because of it. Yet, because I have also felt this after skillfully avoiding my goals list and strategically-placed red “Donation” kettles, I can say: you’re not alone and you’re okay.
“Really,” you ask. Yup.
With just more than two weeks until 1.1.11, there is still value to be gained from the process of working toward your targets, even if you do not accomplish all of them or even all of one. You simply gotta hop off the self-guilt sleigh ride and shift your year-end game focus.
“Invest in the process, not in the outcome.” ~ Srikumar Rao
As I shared in a recent post, my new good friend (in my mind), Srikumar Rao, author of “Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful – No Matter What” penned this fabulous pearl of wisdom. Here is the full quote:
“By all means, work toward a goal, but stop fretting about outcomes. They’re beyond our control anyway. Invest in the process, not in the outcome. Accept the outcome, whatever it is, as joyfully as you can. This becomes a new starting point for you.”
In other words, place more value in the journey than the destination. Consider a woman who wants to drop 15 pounds in three months. She writes down her desire, thereby anointing it a “goal,” and lists steps to help her attain it. Yet, in the end, she falls short. Was all her work for naught? You may say yes before considering her journey. In order to lose 15 pounds (the desired outcome), the woman had to implement a series of lifestyle changes conducive to her losing weight (her process). So, while she didn’t lose the weight, after cutting out several foods and working out more, she felt more energized. In addition, she also noticed that skin issues she experienced since childhood had cleared up. Come to find out, the rashes were the result of a major yet undetected food allergy that she only discovered while undergoing the process of cutting certain unhealthy foods from her diet in order to lose weight.
So again, let me ask you: was her process for nothing? The food allergy discovery aside, what if the three-pound loss gave her enough confidence to try again over the next three months? What if her switch to eating healthier foods granted her enough energy to hit the gym more frequently? To try yoga? Running outdoors? Maybe, the three-pound loss, rather, more specifically, the steps she took to lose three pounds, were her new starting point, toward something bigger, better and greater.
Hopefully, you have surmised that reaching the destination isn’t nearly as important as what you encounter along the way, aka the journey. That’s investing in the process and not getting caught up on the outcome.
Transformation, growth, overcoming fears and developing confidence are a few of the benefits gleaned when we invest in the process of our lives. The key is to stick with your journey and to and learn from it what you can.
And a final note…
There is always the possibility that you have not sought to achieve your goals for other reasons, such as you no longer feel as led, energized or enthusiastic about those pursuits as you once did. Why could this happen? For starters, perhaps those desires were never yours to begin with and were birthed out of a need to fulfill expectations held by your parents, peers or spouse. Maybe an old insecurity (lack of education or money) prompted you to chase after goals you did not truly desire in the name of remaining competitive.
Whatever the case, the big gift (and who doesn’t love those this time of year?) is to be able to see and acknowledge that old goal for what it is – something that you once needed and no longer do! And, guess what, even if you never have reached said goal, this would be your “outcome”…and don’t feel bad about it. Instead, meditate on what you discovered about yourself along the way. Honor it and use it to guide you. For, as Rao says, “this will be your new starting pointing.”
And just in time for a new year!