The Process is The Key
We all have plans in life. Some are bigger and grand, while others are simple. Nonetheless, plans are made and expectations are set whether consciously or subconsciously they exist. What do we do with these expectations? How do we live up to them? What if we can’t? These are some of the thoughts that can torture a soul when thinking about the future. The wants we have become a burden as the goal looms somewhere in the future but elusive.
The process of how we reach our goals is in itself the answer and the calm you need in the face of uncertainty. A structure that allows you to take steps toward your endgame is the most vital piece of the puzzle, but the key to its superpower isn’t precisely what you’d think.
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” ― Winston Churchill
Our goals are important, but their value is in the processes and habits they produce. The efficiency that a person learns or creates in pursuit of their goals is where all the value lies. It becomes part of them, and that’s something that can’t be taken away. The difficultly is that most people are so wrapped up in the pursuit of their dreams they never appreciate the transformation that occurs along the way.
“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” ― Anatole France
The gift of our pursuits is in the process. If that realization is not made, then life can feel like a struggle. It’s not the narrowing of vision that’s the problem; it’s the tunneling without awareness that creates our anxiety. The structure within our lives and our pursuits is where focus and attention can reap all the benefits. Our habits not only can produce extrinsic results but intrinsic well-being.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
When our minds are directed toward awareness of what we are doing in the present moment, worries melt. They have no power when our singular focus is on the task at hand. When nothing else impedes your thought, life slows, and appreciation of each action’s nuances can be fully appreciated. This is a sharp contrast from the idea of focusing on goals. When your attention is always on a distant future that continues to move with you, it can be discouraging. Goals are great to help you focus your energy on what you want to do regularly, but they hurt you when the goal becomes your identity. When dreams become an identity, your life can become a roller coaster of emotions with no end.
“Instead of forcing yourself to feel positive, allow yourself to be present in the now” ― Daniel Mangena
When life slows down and the focus is the present, emotions cannot easily attach themselves to our identity. Emotion is less defining because it’s the moment we are partial to, not the feelings we have about the future or the past.
The key to our goals lies in the appreciation of our daily habits and processes. If you can practice slowing down, feeling, breathing, and being in your routine, life becomes satisfying. For me, it’s not about getting an article published. My prize is the ritual of sitting at my laptop, hearing the background noise of the customers in the coffee shop, smelling the aroma of my coffee, and finding ways to express an idea or perspective. These are the moments that make up a life that needs to be fully realized and appreciated. When we are immersed in the tasks, then we do not need to look further. Life and success will happen there.
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. — Alan Watts