Beauty, Patience & Enjoying the JourneyJan 19, 2022
When I was out on my daily walk the other day, I was feeling especially grounded in the moment as I was consciously appreciating some of my favorite mountain views in Costa Rica. As I went to take a picture (despite already having loads of duplicates), I was struck by a thought:
Why do we tend to focus on the imperfection or the incomplete and overlook the beauty in our lives, and get stuck in the lack of what we desire and minimize, or forget, how far we’ve already come so often?
What prompted this was that, as I was standing on the sidewalk framing up the picture of the view that was making me oh so happy in that moment, I was also acknowledging that there were things like barbed wire in the shot too. Things that many may consider to be obstructions to that “perfect shot”. Sure, I understand why that might be one’s perspective, but it wasn’t mine in this case. I was marveling at the beauty in the town and the breathtaking mountain views all around me.
When I began spending time in this tiny mountain town in Costa Rica, the roads to get here weren’t paved. In fact, they used to sell shirts that said “I survived the road to Monteverde”! And there weren’t much for paved roads or sidewalks outside of the town center either. This has all changed over time. There are still gaps, drop-offs and other “improvements” that could be made, but I know the history and have witnessed the evolution over the years.
This all reminded me of the conversation during a coaching session earlier that day when a client had expressed significant frustration and despair about having not yet reached a personal goal that’s very important to her, and how she was feeling like time was against her.
Of course, it’s natural to feel frustrated at various points along the way towards any goal. There is inevitably going to be some kind of struggle in the journey. The challenge, though, is not becoming so discouraged that we forget or minimize all of the incredible things we already have and have achieved in our life. We must continue to find the joy in where we are now – the present moment. (I could be critical of the gaps in the sidewalk, but I remember the lack of sidewalks and worrying about slipping on the muddy road.)
So rather than enjoying all of the amazing benefits of her most recent accomplishment, my client was focused solely on the lack of these other things. She was missing out on the present moment, which is really all that will ever exist. Everything is temporary and her willingness to dismiss the joyful feelings about this recent accomplishment illustrates how temporary feelings can be.
The kicker here, though, was that she began to question her boundaries and standards, as if she had simply set the bar at some ridiculous height and was being unreasonable, like that was what was causing the delay. She began to consider settling on things that would run completely contrary to some very foundational aspects of her life, her beliefs and other goals that are also important to her as some kind of last ditch effort to expedite the realization of this particular goal. This was dangerous territory that would likely open the door to a whole host of future issues, including that inner voice that would certainly haunt her with reminders that she sold herself short.
What do you think? Have you ever experienced this in your life?
Let’s consider a few very common goals:
- Making the right career move next
- Finding the person you want to spend your life with
- Having/raising children
- Finding that perfect place to call home for years to come
It’s easy to crave the achievement of any one of those goals, but how would your future-self feel if you settled for something less than you want just because you’re tired of waiting or because the option you wanted didn’t pan out? This isn’t to say that we will always manifest the exact vision we have in mind, but there’s a difference between settling and being open to the possibilities.
The way I see it is that settling is much more likely to lead to resentment, regret and dissatisfaction because it’s often more about compromising values and boundaries. Yes, of course, there may be times when you have to make a choice between two things because both are not possible (think watching a real estate-type show like House Hunters International where the only available options are having the view OR walkable to town), but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I remember how emotionally draining it was when I was looking for my house. I was in tears more than once as one thing or another didn’t go “my way.” You know how this story turns out, though, because it’s how it goes…the right house for me showed up when it was time and I absolutely love my house. It was worth the wait. Of course, I could have settled for another house or expanded the area I was looking and made it happen faster, but faster doesn’t necessarily equal better. How happy would I be if I would have settled?
I talk a lot about the importance of accountability when it comes to pursuing goals and dreams, but…some goals aren’t as much about leveraging accountability as much as they are about giving ourselves permission and patience to allow things to unfold.
What often happens, though, is that we compare ourselves to others and think that we should be somewhere other than where we are. We should be married already, we should have that position at work already, we should own a house in that neighborhood already…
The truth? We all have our own unique paths…and that’s okay! Just because there may be paved roads and sidewalks in one place, doesn’t mean that there is anything fundamentally wrong with either place. The communities simply have different timetables.
When making the dream a reality as fast as possible becomes the focus, especially based on the lives of others, it becomes much too easy to go down the path of beating ourselves up thinking that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us, and to consider sacrificing some of the details that have been important to us. And it simply sucks the joy out of the journey!
If the present moment is all that really exists, why not enjoy the present moment while in the pursuit of the goal?
The funny thing is that all of our problems are not going to magically disappear when we achieve a goal. It’s not like we’ll suddenly become happy and blissful for the rest of our life. (Sorry, but those “happily ever after” childhood stories weren’t biographies.) Like I said, ups & downs are part of the human experience. Yes, it’s possible that some things may be easier or that certain issues may be resolved in meeting some goals, but you can count on other problems inevitably popping up.
Think about these questions:
- How many goals have you already achieved in your life so far?
- Have you ever stopped having goals and dreams after meeting a major goal?
- How many of those goals were going to solve all your problems? How did that go?
- When was a time in your life you remember struggling or feeling frustrated working on reaching a goal or dream? Was it worth the wait?
- Have you ever maintained your standards and met a goal? How did the result feel?
- Have you ever lowered your standards to meet a lower version of a goal? How did that feel?
I would love to hear from you on these questions. Drop me a message and let me know what came up for you.
This isn’t about guilt about wanting more or how you should just feel grateful for everything you have and stop complaining. There is absolutely no shame or guilt in wanting more or feeling frustrated sometimes. We’re goal-seekers by nature. We’re literally wired for it. Just like you will never be without a to-do list, you will never be without a goal. There will always be more growth within that career or relationship, and remodeling or maintenance projects on that dream home, and difficult phases within raising children or some other goal.
As you journey towards your big goals and dreams, consider these questions for this present moment:
- Is it possible that you are trying to run towards that next goal in a subconscious effort to avoid dealing with something?
- If you need to wait for something out of your control to happen, what else can you be working on?
- What actions can you take to prepare you for that future obtainment?
- What or who could use more of your attention?
- Have you considered how you can show yourself more self-care and love?
The only thing that we have is the present moment. We’ll only be in this moment one time. We will only be this age one time. We will only have this particular set of circumstances one time. Enjoy it. Savor it. Sure, things might be particularly difficult right now, but the difficulty will pass. Just think of how many things you’ve already been through and achieved in your life. That’s proof that you will make it through this phase and that you have what it takes to reach your goals and dreams too.
Enjoy the journey!
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