Friday, September 16, 2011

The journey versus the goal

Goals are important, that's true. Goals often form the basis of our training and help us formulate our plan. They give us something to work towards and something to plan for. But goals are just the finish line. We must not forget to enjoy the journey. Sometimes we might not reach our goal, despite our best efforts, so it's important that the journey along the way be fun as well. In a society that is so driven for achievement and success, often people discount the steps it takes to reach their achievements. Take for example, climbing a mountain. It is very cool, when you reach the top, you feel like you accomplished something, and as you look down on where you have been, it feels pretty good. But sometimes we forget to appreciate the journey. And, in all reality, the journey, really does matter. After all, reaching a goal can take days, weeks, months, even years of hard work. Think about earning a degree, or getting a promotion, or finishing your first 5km or marathon. Each of these goals is something where many hours are put into it, yet reaching the end takes but a moment. Therefore, it's very important to make the most of the journey. After all, it is the journey that you live day in and day out. And, if you don't enjoy the journey, then certainly, you have spent a lot of hours of your life, possibly in a state of unhappiness. Now, I don't mean that hours of studying or exercising have to be "fun", but if it's something you have to do, and want to do, to reach your goal, then make sure you take moments to appreciate the journey and what it is to you. Let's go back to the mountain for a moment. If you spend every moment climbing the mountain focused only on the top, you might miss the beautiful scenery, or the chirping birds, or the little chipmunk scurrying about, or the beautiful flowers you will pass. If ever you need to be reminded about the journey, climb a mountain with a two year old. Last weekend, I took my one son, and together we climbed Sulphur Mountain. It's not Mount Everest, it's just a basic set of switchbacks that take you to the top. You gain a lot in elevation, so certainly you are working your lungs, but it's a simple enough hike, that can be completed in a couple hours or more. Sullivan alternated between hiking and hitching a ride in the baby backpack, but he illustrates the beauty of the journey. He is too young to truly understand the goal. For him, it's about living in the moment, the hear and the now. And it's incredible to realize just how goal focused, we as adults become. Many times I heard myself telling him to keep walking, to keep moving, to hurry it up a little etc. Sully however, was concerned about the flowers he saw, and the rocks along the path, and the sticks, and the chipmunks. If I saw the forest, he saw the individual tree. He had no regard for time, just for exploring. He had fun with all the little things, and although he appreciated the reward of our goal (he LOVED the gondola ride down that we got), he really made me notice what it means to live in the moment. I think we can learn a lot from watching a youngster enjoy the journey. In this case, Sully had so much fun, collecting little rocks, trading out one for the other, making up little games with me, and truly taking in everything around us. He taught me a big lesson that day, and one I hope to carry with me. Even though we might have goals and dreams and plans, it is important to also remember that the journey matters. Don't forget to live in the moment, and not always focus on the future. Enjoy the journey, because each step of the journey takes you closer to your goal and you might as well enjoy the time it takes you to get there!!

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