18th Jun 2023
Embracing the Journey Mindset
Discovering fulfilment in the pursuit of Goals
- Switch your focus from the end result to the journey to get there
- To be empowered by the journey (rather than allowing the journey to bring you down), focus on experiencing and enjoying all the daily steps towards the direction you feel is right, don’t rush them
- Each and every step is a part of that journey, they all need to be experienced, including the failures and mistakes because there is where all the learnings come from
- The final result is just a by-product of your journey
“Life is a journey made of many journeys. To live it we have to go through them. To live it well, we’ll have to enjoy them.“
I consider everything we do in our lives as a journey because everything requires steps which we need to experience to move forward (them being either known or unknown, and either positive or negative).
Throughout life, we enter many of these journeys; for most of them, we just run with the flow, exploring, discovering and evolving along the way.
There are times, however, when we start a journey to reach something specific, a desired state, or a goal (even without being aware of it). When we enter a journey with our mind focused only on our final goal, looking forward just to achieving that, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. This is not because we are not able to achieve our goal, as we might actually reach it easily, but because we will feel empty when we do.
To avoid that we need to acknowledge that any journey, especially those to reach a specific goal, is filled with failures along the way, difficult moments and so suffering, as well as small achievements and moments of realisation and accomplishment.
The time it takes to achieve a goal, the journey, is always longer than the time you spend to enjoy that moment of achievement. If we focus just on the final goal, we would suffer the stress of the journey to get there, because we would perceive the journey itself just as an obstacle dividing us from our prize. We would have to bear all that suffering for just a brief moment of excitement, and then we would feel empty again until we get to the next thing we crave to achieve.
I believe this way of approaching a journey is traumatic, futile and against nature*.
Whenever we consciously start a journey, we should also recognise all the smaller and connected journeys we are entering. Perhaps to reach our goal we also need to learn or experience something new and to do so we’ll need to enter another journey; all these journeys will eventually lead us to our goal. Doing so will make us see the value of the steps we’ll take and every small, but rewarding, success along our journey.
Once you are set on a goal, keep that goal as a north star, but just focus on the step that exists in the present moment, on enjoying it and understanding how to learn from it. Each of those steps is going to get you closer to your goal, but more importantly, each of those steps is going to make you learn, evolve and experience new things. Those steps between you and your goal are not obstacles, they are your life, there to be enjoyed.
You can reach a state where you’ll be aware of your goal, but you will not be obsessed with it, because you will be focused on experiencing and enjoying your daily step, knowing that, sooner or later, you will have reached your goal.
*why is it against nature? Nature has much slower processes that make us learn through trial and error. To learn and get better, most of the time, we have fully to experience them.
An example: My job-seeking journey
In November 2020, after a little over 3 years of working for a company, I decided it was time to move to my next challenge. I went back to job-seeking and so I started a new journey.
In the beginning, I started updating my presentation material (a very mind-consuming task, especially for those of us who need a portfolio). I then got feedback on it, which I used to improve, not only in my material but mostly in my job.
I have changed my website more than 10 times. Done at least 30 interviews. I have got many contrasting feedbacks from different mentors. I studied countless companies (all those I got interviews from, all those I didn’t get interviews from and even those I was simply considering). I did improve where I felt I was scarce and I stood up for my value where I thought I was doing good. I got rejected at various stages by so many companies that I lost count.
I am sure expressed as this sounds like a stressful time of my life. Yet, it wasn’t. It was actually a rewarding one. As I was going through it, I started to see how much value I was getting from the process of looking for my next job, and how getting a little bit better every day was becoming rewarding and exciting in its own right. All of this value I was getting, even before reaching my aimed final goal, made me think.
“Why should I be stressed? As long as I am doing what I think it’s good to progress, and I am doing it every day, I should not be worried. I am not wasting my time, and I know that inevitably at some point I’ll get where I want”
I think I felt really grateful to be aware of this during my journey because it made the journey itself an amazing experience.
I am not saying it wasn’t hard or demanding (as everything worth pursuing always is), it definitely was, but simply accepting the work might have been hard and long, allowed me to be free to enjoy it. I shifted the focus from the pain of the long hard work to the enjoyment of the small single step in front of me.
I simply focused on the journey, day by day, task by task, one step at a time, rather than impatiently waiting for it to be over so I could get my reward.
During the process, I moved from rejections to amazing feedback. Then, when the growth from this journey was completed, I received not one but two great offers, coming exactly from the 2 companies I liked the most.
Before and throughout this journey, I recognised a few of the connected other journeys I was entering and experiencing, such as the lifelong journey of improving, the journey of meeting people and making connections, the journey of understanding the current situation in my industry and many other minor journeys too.
If we can see them for what they are, simply journeys, we can accept that they require us to go through and experience them. We can accept they require failures in it, to learn, improve and progress forward. Accepting all this, exploring and experiencing our journeys, will enable us to enjoy them.
What did I learn from my job-seeking journey?
In the end, doing the aftermath, I can see how much value the journey itself gave me:
- The feedback allowed me to improve my craft
- Every interview connected me with amazing people who are now part of my network
- Every rejection made me understand something new about what I was looking for. They did bring me a step closer, as well as make me stronger by accepting failure as a key part of the process.
Looking back now, it feels like a lot of work. But when doing it, because I was focusing and enjoying one thing at a time (by consciously reminding myself of the value of it) it didn’t feel this much.
I wasn’t focusing on when the final goal was going to arrive because I knew that inevitably, sooner or later, it would have been with me. Instead, I focused on daily tasks and daily improvements. I did my interviews with passion and true interest. I wasn’t afraid of getting rejected because I knew I was on a journey, and when I was mature* enough the end of the process was going to unfold itself.
It is important to clarify I had the highest interest in every application I did, expecting that to be the one, and so putting my best effort in the moment. If the match was right I was moving to the next step (thanks to the learning from previous interviews). If the match wasn’t right I was getting the hint about what to improve to unlock the next level, like in a videogame.
Even when I felt the perfect match for a company and it didn’t work out I knew that something wasn’t right yet, I had to learn something else and so the journey wasn’t supposed to finish. I had to achieve an extra level of consciousness in my work to find an even greater opportunity.
Three years later, the learnings from this journey, for which I was completely inexperienced and unprepared, are allowing me to leave life more easily and they were the starting point for other journeys I entered afterwards.
*Mature: The moment where the journey itself made you improve to the point where you can win the game
So what am I suggesting?
As Marcus Aurelius said in his Meditations:
“Your attempt was always subject to reservations, remember, you were not aiming at the impossible. At what then? Simply at making the attempt itself. In this you succeeded; and with that, the object of your existence is attained”
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 6 – 50)
The main lesson I’d like to share is that our duty is to try. Your only goal is to move along your journey by trying, if you do that, step by step, you’ll have succeeded, because success is not in the achievement of the result, but it’s in the act of trying, again and again. The result is just the end of a journey.
To help us follow this, I think, we have to see the value in the journey and enjoy it. Then, when it’s time, the journey will end and the result, whatever that will be, will be there.
What you want to achieve is never simple, it always takes time, effort and persistence. However, I can assure you, it does get easier as you move along in the journey because you get better, especially if you focus on the small everyday wins. So just start, one achievable step at a time will bring you closer to your goal.
I like to remind myself that success is not in the hands of people who were born with something more. Success is simply in the hands of those who show up every day and take a little step toward the direction they feel is right.
So don’t stop, keep moving and enjoy your journeys!
First steps that helped me
- Write down the first 3 steps that come to mind to reach your goal
- Do the first one immediately
- Adjust plan
Extra Practical Tip for Job-seeking: If you want to start your job-seeking journey but you haven’t decided yet where to put your focus (if in one job or another) don’t worry. Discovering that is a journey too, just start with one thing, grow your consciousness and a path will become clear.
Disclaimer: I hold this approach true and useful for me, however, we are all different and my truth might not be yours. This makes communication special
The thoughts and ideas that you see in this article all come from me and none of them do. Like every thought or epiphany in life, they come from a collection of information and experiences.
Most of the knowledge about how to approach life is thousands of years old. We just express it in different ways to make it accessible to our current society, sometimes simply by connecting the dots. This is what I did here, I connected the dots between the knowledge I gathered and the experiences I had, to make the information useful and usable.