“The journey is the reward.” ~Chinese Proverb
When you set goals, you naturally focus on the result. If you pay attention to the desired achievement, you will discover the path to get there. However, the value you gain from achieving the goal isn’t just about the reward of accomplishment.
Once you achieve a significant goal, you will not be the same person you were when you set out on the journey. The process of achieving your goal and the experience you have gained will have changed you. This is why the journey is the reward.
If you set the goal of losing forty pounds and you get there, you will have gained more than the results of looking good and having spiked interest from the opposite sex.
In order to lose the weight, you needed to lead a very disciplined and focused lifestyle. You needed to take charge of your diet and ensure you did not lapse into old eating habits. You needed to work out regularly and efficiently, and actually make serious gains in the gym.
A great body is not just a thing you have; it is a lifestyle you lead. Adopting that lifestyle is the key benefit.
How many people actually make the necessary sacrifices and do the hard work required to lose serious weight? Not nearly as many as the number who set the goal. Taking those steps changes both the mind and body.
The reward is not just the tangible change in your body. It is the journey that has given you improved discipline and willpower.
Exactly the same applies to the goal of quitting your job and running your own business. Everyone dreams about it, but very few people do it. Those who are successful have not just won the prize of being their own boss and earning a better income.
The long hours they have worked, the risks they have taken with their time and money, the fear and uncertainty of whether it was going to work—these things changed them.
It took me four years of working on my online business part-time before it earned me enough money to kiss the desk goodbye. The money is not the prize; it is the time and freedom I now have. But if those things had just fallen into my lap without any effort or sacrifice on my behalf, I would not be able to appreciate them in the same way.
I would still have been the same person I used to be.
No doubt the time and freedom are great. But when I really think about the process I went through, I recognize that the changes in me as a person have provided greater value in the long term. I dreamed big, I devoted many hours, and I was petrified that it would all be a waste. But I just put one foot in front of the other, kept plodding along, and eventually I reached my goal.
Thanks to the journey I internalized the success process, and that is the greatest reward. To know, to really know, that I can reach a goal by pointing myself in the right direction and taking small and gradual action. To have the utter faith that little by little, I am making progress, even if it doesn’t appear that way, and that I can succeed if I just stick to the task.
The person you become when you reach a significant goal is a person who is more likely to achieve future goals.
That is why people who are successful in one area are often successful in others. It is no surprise that many high performing business people and executives are also extremely fit.
At first glance it does not appear to be linked. But each requires consistent action over a long period of time.
Personal development is not about having stuff. It’s not about having a good body, a compatible partner, and a passive free-flowing income. Those things may come, but they are signals of the changes you undertake on your journey.
The compatible partner is a signal that you have learned how to open yourself up and learned how to love and be selfless. The passive free-flowing income signals that you have learned how to provide value to the world and that you have chosen infinite possibility over security. The lean body signals that you nourish your physical temple with healthy food and that you can effectively challenge yourself with exercise.
The changes in yourself are much more deeply satisfying than the actual stuff you receive.
I believe that when you set goals for the purpose of developing yourself rather than a physical symbol of success, you are more likely to achieve it. You may need the physical symbol to drive you and to measure your progress, but it’s the journey that changes you, and the journey that is the reward.
Even if you never actually achieve the physical goal, perhaps because you’ve changed your mind and changed course, you will still have experienced a change in yourself, and that too is the reward.
The physical signs of success are not required for growth to occur, they are merely reflections of that growth, along with intangible reflections, such as peace and fulfillment.
This idea that the journey is more important than the destination is a common sentiment. It just took me a while to figure out that it was true and really internalize it.
It is so easy to read stories and proverbs of profound wisdom, nod your head in agreement but never really take it onboard. But a theoretical appreciation of wisdom is not enough; it needs to be internalized to become part of the fabric of your being.
So how do you internalize something? You simply have experiences. Put yourself in challenging situations, set yourself audacious goals, and meditate on statements of wisdom to apply them to your process.
If you chase experiences and not things, those experiences will change you, the wisdom gained will be internalized, and that will be your greatest reward.
Photo by Burning Question