You Will Not Be The Same Person When You Achieve Your Goal

“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

About Brad Alexander

Brad writes about helping young men navigate the often murky transition from boyhood to manhood. His website Badass Young Men deals with all the challenges young men face such as jealousy and insecurity, relationships, fitness and career.

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  • Mary Beth

    Wow! Great job, Brad! Thank you for writing and sharing this piece with us. It is extremely insightful and I really connect with it.

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Sometimes the right words at the right time are all you need. Thanks for providing them today!!

  • HaleyMia

    Could not have come at a better time! I am currently in nursing school which is the hardest thing I have ever attempted. I cry everyday because of stress & worry, but I keep the end-goal of achieving my life’s ambition n becoming a nurse in my mind all the time. I think what I need to focus on is the here & now though because it is all the sacrifice I’m making n changes I’ve had to implement in my life since I started that will make me a successful nurse. I never thought it would be this hard, to leave who I was behind, but I know xactly what you mean. This is the important part! Thnk you, Haley

  • shellyhiddleson

    Thank you. Peace

  • Jeffrey Willius

    What a fine message, especially for the young men you speak to in your writing and blogging! Sure, one can take deliberate steps to grow & bloom, but there’s also an element of magic to it. One of the greatest gifts to young people is to help them see and believe that magic. Thank you for all you’re doing to make that happen!

  • CarolSong

    It takes my breath away how pertinent this is for me at this exact moment in time Thank you.

  • Carmelo

    Knowing a thing is in the doing of the thing. It seems sometimes we wait to learn, wait for a leader or guide but the guide is inside and the learning is in the doing. Gosh, this took me a long time to put into practice!

    Nice post about just taking that journey, Brad. Just gotta get out there and go!

  • Brad Alexander

    I like the way you put that. That’s why it’s also often said that the best way to really understand something is to teach it. Knowing is the doing and then the sharing.

  • Brad Alexander

    Enjoy the journey of transformation. Thanks for sharing your story. All the best with your studies.

  • Sally

    Excellent and very timely. I’m printing this out (If that’s ok?) and keeping it somewhere I can see it daily.

  • This is exactly what I needed to read today. Study, study, study and get my bachelor degree. Thanks.
    Esther, Rotterdam Holland

  • Great points. Reminds me of the quote “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” (I think it is by Zig Ziglar)

  • Stephanie // artfullyadored

    Really wonderful advice – working towards our goals is really rewarding! I would also add that they change us in that they give us newfound confidence to run out and achieve new goals! Great post!!

  • Brad Alexander

    I haven’t heard that quote before but yeah that pretty much sums it up. 🙂

  • MissTiffaniF

    This may be my favorite TinyBuddha that I have read, so far!

    I am a Southern gal, recently moved to Los Angeles. I have been feeling so overwhelmed with a new career, a new city, new people, and a new lifestyle – that I have been focusing so much on where I WANT TO BE, instead of where I AM… and how far I have come.

    I have forgotten the very core of my belief system, and have been feeling disconnected from the Universe, my spirituality, and therefore MYSELF.

    I am thankful for this reminder that everything I am going through is CHANGING me into the person I want and need to be, and that the JOURNEY is the most important part of all of this. <3

    Time to realign my priorities with what is truly important in my heart, and time to re-center myself and BE PRESENT. Life is beautiful – you just have to remember to LOOK! 🙂

  • MissTiffaniF

    I so agree with this. This was perfectly relevant when I needed it… TinyBuddha so often does that!

  • Andrew van Duivenbode

    Brilliant piece of writing. You really captured the truth of that old saying in a way I hadn’t fully grasped before. Thankyou.

  • Zgirl

    Nursing school is exquisite torture! I graduated in 2008. It is so very worth it. And still full of challenges after you finish school. The feeling you have when you finish will be worth it. Best wishes for your nursing career!

  • Rupesh

    It gave me courage to stand up & walk again towards my goal.

  • My favorite 2 parts of the post:

    I recognize that the changes in me as a person have provided greater value in the long term.

    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.

    It’s very easy to lose track of the fact that the journey is what provides you the growth in reaching the next level of your life. Thanks Brad!

  • Hari Shankar

    Well written Brad. These are the words i like most from this post – “The money is not the prize; it is the time and freedom I now have.” 🙂 I wish for the same 🙂

  • Hari

    I like this words… “The money is not the prize; it is the time and freedom I now have.”

  • Aleksandras

    Dear Brad, thank you for this article. This has reminded of Terence McKenna’s words: it is all about self-experience and how you need to do what you feel is your life. “Build your own boat”. Thank you for the inspiration and sharing a little part of your world. Best regards, A.

  • maloha.xo

    So beautifully put. Confirming my thoughts. Slowly but surely applying wisdom I have gained. Gaining the wisdom is the first part and applying it is the other. You can’t have one without the other anyways. Thank you for this refreshing read and the mutual understanding of goals, dreams, aspirations and what success really means. It’s all personal. Keep the articles coming! It’s like you’re in my head (: