Focus on the journey, not the destination

I have read several times in various columns, articles and self-help books that the key to success is a clearly defined goal. The core of it all is the endgame, the result. The basic idea is that if you don’t know what you want to achieve, how on earth could you achieve it? I have often sat at my desk and reflected the precise contents of my goal and how my performance could be chopped in smaller pieces. What should the end result look like? This has proven itself to be a working and efficient method – most of the time.

I was once at a culture event listening to two authors. I asked one of them later in the evening what I should do in situations where the act of writing feels horribly difficult and unappetizing. At once, a knowing and empathetic smile appeared on her face. She knew precisely when I was talking about. ”In those situations, try to find an appealing and interesting angle in your writing. Anything will do. Then use that.” she said. In fact, I have often tried to use this method, when I have had difficulties in creating content. Which is often, I should add. Sometimes this positive aspect entails coming up with a witty introduction or trying to focus on building a certain character. This minor shift in one’s way of thinking usually tricks my mind into thinking the whole text is more fascinating and appealing than it was before.

There are many types of journeys, this one is from a road trip in Ireland.

I once read a professional writer’s piece on how she had decided to view writing. According to the author in question, one should focus on the process instead of the final project, because the end result is always uncertain. The outcome could be a success, a complete failure or something in-between. One cannot know beforehand. The core of this point of view is that because the future can entail anything and everything, one should enjoy the writing process, because that is the only thing one can control. If a person focuses solely on the goal and then doesn’t achieve it for a reason or another, then everything has basically been pointless. If the individual on the other hand focuses on the process and tries to enjoy it, the road towards the outcome is already in itself pleasurable, valuable and educational. Not a bad idea at all, I thought upon hearing this.

I am currently on a road of academic torture, which is that I am writing my Master’s thesis. Keeping in mind the basic teachings of motivation psychology, I have been trying to keep my main goal visible in the horizon. It is true that without an idea of what I actually want, it is very difficult to grasp it. But due to the fact that the future is full of question marks and uncertainty, an individual can never really know what is behind every corner. In case the end result doesn’t correspond with one’s high expectations or if the goal is not reached at all, it can be difficult to see the point of the whole project. But if you are able to enjoy the journey itself, you have already experienced something. And what could be better than that?

Perhaps those worn-out sayings on the importance of the journey and not the destination are not so futile after all?

Maaria Tirri is a content provider for Europass

Text and photo: Maaria Tirri

In our society the focus is often on results and being goal-oriented. What if one should focus on the process instead?


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