Are you so focussed on your destination you miss the beauty of the sunset? Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Many of us our driven by goals. So, what is a goal? Essentially it is the desired state of an individual. Reaching any goal is a process – whether it is directly going from A to B, or through intermediate states, C and D before reaching the aim, E.
I often find there is a sense of restlessness in those processes, the accumulation of moments in between. There is a sense of “I will feel satisfied/happy/have a sense of achievement when I have attained my goal.”
However, and others may relate to this, when I reach a goal, the savouring of that experience does not last that long. Sure, it is pleasurable, and there is a sense of achievement. However, if I stopped there, life's lessons would cease, and so would the meaning.
Perhaps, it is those “moments in between” where the important life lessons are learned – patience and conscientiousness for example, meaningful relationships with others.
For example, just say a student desires to become a doctor. There are many stages where she/he will have to pass through first: school, university and obtaining practical experience.
An Olympian would have first had to decide to learn a sport, then have the self-discipline to train enough to work their way to a competitive level. Then, they would have to learn how to compete best – including having the right nutrition and mindset.
You can’t start jogging one day, and expect to run a marathon even a few months later (unless you’re an extremely fit person for other reasons with youth on your side)!
Today, I was cleaning my place and I found it a much more enjoyable process then I usually do, because I was not focussed on the end result, but the accumulation of the moments in between: that is, the process. My mother was helping me, and I enjoyed talking to her while we worked, listening to the music I always put on to motivate myself when I have to do housework. I enjoyed the process of sorting through my bathroom paraphernalia.
Have you ever noticed when you are concentrated on an end result, and your mind is not in the present moment that firstly, time seems to go relatively slower?
Additionally, have you had the observation that when you are not mindful of the present, and forget the meaning that can be found in-between, that it is never that comfortable mentally? For example, when I am waiting at a doctor’s surgery and not doing anything, I am more liable to become restless and anxious. However, if I decide to stay focussed on something else such as reading a magazine, it seems like I am called in quickly.
The important life lessons are not only character-building ones such as developing patience and self-control. In addition, it’s the ‘moments in between’ where there is a great potential for relationship growth. For example, I could have decided to initiate a conversation in the doctor’s surgery. I enjoyed talking to my mother while we were cleaning the place together. Once the tidying was done, and mum and I left after a coffee, life stood still again. I was no longer interacting, no longer practicing skills like concentrating on what I was doing.
I began to experience negative feelings, an uncomfortable feeling inside. The goal had been achieved, but the pleasure of that moment is rewarding but then there is a begging for something else to do.
Life’s most precious moments are those “moments in between”. Talking to the stranger on a train can change someone’s day. The process of going to university lecture improves your ability to learn, attain self-discipline – by the time there’s an exam, this tests what you have learned. The exam can be another learning experience – how to handle it the best you can.
It’s strange: once a goal has been completed, we call it an achievement. However, that goal is only the result of lots of those “moments in between”. It does not stand on it's own. You only got there because you worked toward it. So, when we are restless and focussed on the results, remind yourself every moment is an achievement in and of itself, because this is where the important life lessons are learned.