30 Jan How to Find Joy in the Journey, Rather Than Relying on the Outcome
“Seek meaning first, authenticity and influence will follow. Seek influence first, and you’ll risk losing yourself along the way.” – Alex J. Hughes
Last week we discussed some of the common misconceptions around making money from doing work that you love. The premise of that post was about how I often see people put so much focus on the outcome that they end up losing sight of the journey. And the whole point of doing things you love, is because you love doing them, right?! So, be sure to check that out that post if you haven’t read it yet, as it will give you the background on what we are talking about today.
It is easy to think that happiness lies in the outcome, that once we get to the mystical ‘there’, all our problems will be solved. It’s helpful to have goals, dreams and intentions but if you constantly want to fast forward to the final beat, you end up missing the best part of the song…
Which is why I believe in, live by and have been witness to the fact that a happy ending (versus a short-lived high) only comes if and when we find joy in the journey. So, here’s a few ways to enjoy the ride a little more…
1. Fine Tune Your Focus
Often we look at what we don’t want, or what we don’t have. But while all the things we don’t want or don’t have are in fact real, there’s another side to things. The things we can do and do have…
And this is so important because your focus is fuel. If you look at what you can’t do, you’ll see more of that, but if you look at what you can do, you’ll see more of that.
For example, if you want to believe the world is a horrible place, there are a million ways to see that! We are inundated every single day with all that is wrong. But while all that horrible stuff is being reported, there also a million acts of love taking place every single moment. These things happen, they just go unnoticed – the mother caring for her child, the hug given to a loved one, the nervous laughter shared among two people falling in love. If we could record how many times the words “I love you” you were said each day, versus the words “I hate you”, while I don’t have the stats, I would go very long on the bet that love would win… It doesn’t solve the problem that there are a lot of bad things taking place, but there is a lot of good, amidst the bad.
And there are a lot of things you can do and do have, amidst those that you cannot or do not.
Just because something happens to be in your frame of reference at the moment, doesn’t mean there aren’t things out side of that frame. If you look around you right now, and try to notice everything that is red, you’ll see a lot more red things than when you weren’t focused in on it… But, it doesn’t mean that green things aren’t there, noticing red is just in your frame of reference at the moment.
It’s a small example to prove a big point. There are a lot of things you can’t do… you can’t always just up and quit your miserable job, or make a massive change overnight. But you can spend some time every single day doing something you enjoy, or do the little things that bring joy and appreciation into your life (I recently shared one of these I do each week over on Instagram).
When it comes to doing work you love, if you constantly focus on what you can’t do, you will become a victim to your surroundings. You’ll constantly be reacting to what happens to you, but if you bring awareness to what you can do, you’ll start to dictate what happens around you. So focus on what you can do and you’ll feel a lot better! Show up, do what you love, find a way to add value to others doing what you love, take the tiny next step, reframe things to make them fun, or reach out and ask for help.
Aligned Action: Notice every time you think or say “I can’t” or “I don’t”. Write it down. Then write down what you can do, or do have! You can fuel your momentum or your misery. The choice is yours…
2. Focus on Your Feelings
The quality of your life is not a result of the things you have or the things you do, it is a result of the feelings you feel day in and day out.
Of course the things we have or things we do contribute to the feelings we feel. We feel more confident when we look good. We feel more fulfilled when we are doing something that matters to us. But it is important to understand that the things we think we want (the outcome) are often just a pathway to feel the feelings we want to feel. You want more money, not because you want to hold more dirty paper in your hands, but because you want the feeling of freedom, peace, accomplishment, or whatever that means to you.
So, to piggy-back on fine tuning our focus, the more you follow the things that make you feel the feelings you want to feel, the more you will enjoy the journey.
There are way too many factors out of our control to possibly know what our future holds. We have an idea and an ideal, but a lot of things can get in the way of how we think it should be. So the more you can focus on your next inspired step versus the entire outcome, the better you’ll feel in the process. Spend your time doing things that make you feel the feelings you like to feel, and you’ll already be at the destination!
But, be careful, because the opposite is also true…
Aligned Action: Think about the things you want. What will those things make you feel? What do you have in your power right now to create those feelings. Another way to think of this is what is the next smallest inspired step I can take? Or what can I do every day to contribute to the feelings I love to feel. I elaborate more on this in a recent podcast episode I did with Jairek Robbins.
3. Detach From Outcome
I know what you are thinking based on that previous statement. My next inspired step is X…. but how will that ever get me X???
If you love writing music, the next inspired step might be to write a song. But, our fearful little mind often wants to step-in and get way too far ahead of where we actually are. As Jill said in this interview, you cannot compare your step 1 to someone else’s step 16. The more you can be where you are, not where you are not, the better off you’ll be. Do what you can, focus on your what and your why and (try to, it’s a practice!) let go of the how and when.
If you are wanting to write a book, don’t fast forward to the epilogue, focus on the dedication. I have been working on a book proposal for almost 2 years! It has been a slow process but if it never sits on a shelf, I am still happy I did it. If it was all for the outcome or only about the how and the when, I would have given up by now, but the entire time (well, except for the thousand times fear stepped in and made me think I wanted to give up) it has been about the why. Focusing on the what (writing) and why (sharing a voice I didn’t hear when I needed it most) but letting go of needing to know how and when has allowed me to release expectations (aka control) so that I can observe and enjoy the process of letting things unfold however they may. And doing so has given me feelings of freedom and peace (both great feelings!) in the midst of an uncertain outcome. I keep doing what I can (showing up, doing the work) but have detached from what it all needs to look like, which has allowed me to find peace in the process. And isn’t that the whole point?
What if your job wasn’t to publish the book, create the business, or whatever it is you think you need to do? What if the only purpose was to enjoy the process? We go on a roller coaster ride not for the outcome, but to enjoy the journey – both the ups and downs. What if this lifetime has no other meaning than to stop being so serious so we can enjoy the ride?
And not to mention, history has shown time and time again, that when you show up, lead with love, live with intention, let go of ego and be the best version of you, you often get a better outcome than the one your very limited mind tried to force into fruition. As Dr. Joe Dispenza says:
“To truly surrender is to let go of the ego’s control; to trust in an outcome that you haven’t thought of yet.” – Dr. Joe Dispenza
The more we do what we do for the act of doing it rather than for where or what it is going to bring us, the more we will enjoy the journey.
Aligned Action: Get curious about the things you think have to happen.
- Do you have to earn 100K to feel successful? If so, why?
- Do you have to write a book to be someone? If so, why?
- Do you have to marry your partner to feel loved? If so, why?
- If these things happened in 1 month or 1 year, would you be ok with it? If they never happened, would you? Why?
- Is your ideal outcome taking away from a current enjoyable reality? Is a title more important than your truth (what is real or right, right now)? If so, why? (hint: it might, albeit subconsciously, have something to do with your attachment to timelines, titles or your identity)
4. Accept That you are Always Trading Something for Another
I am an eternal optimist, but I am also a realist. I know that every ‘there’ has its up and downs. To accept and acknowledge that you are always trading something for another is an incredibly empowering belief. As Mark Manson so eloquently puts it… you get to decide which shit sandwich you are going to eat. Are you going to eat the shit sandwich of uncertainty and not knowing how things are going to work out, or the shit sandwich of a safe and secure path that feels mundane? None of us are wasting time, we are just prioritizing different values.
Doing work you love can be lucrative but, you may also need to trade some of your currency in cash for the currency of fulfillment. Doing work you love, may mean you trade the ‘safety’ and benefits from an employer for the risk of being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur gives you freedom and flexibility, but it come with a responsibility. You are 100% responsible for every dollar you earn, and making sure your Profit and Loss statement pans out at the end of the month or year. You don’t get a paycheck for showing up, and spending 80 hours on something. In fact, you risk spending 80 hours on something and it not working out at all! And if that happens, you have to figure out how to keep the ship running.
But this responsibility also comes with great rewards. There is pride in knowing that you have what you have because of the love, sweat and tears you put into it and you didn’t give up when things got hard.
Which is why you do what you do is so important. That is what keeps you going when you run into a shit sandwich and have to decide if you are willing to eat it. If writing my book was to stroke my own ego, I for sure would have given up during all those bumps, but it is for a reason greater much greater than me (Pillar 4!). If you don’t have it in you to endure the journey, you likely won’t have it in you to endure the journey that continues once you get to the destination.
Aligned Action: Take a true honest look at what you are trading. If you want to be a professional musician, are you willing to endure the endless of rejections it will take to get there? If you are making a ton of money, but have no life outside of work, are you willing to give up a little bit of your security for some freedom? If you are single and think a relationship will be the key to your happiness, recognize that yes you will have a companion, but in doing so, you welcome a lot more ways to have things not go your way! I am not saying any of these things are wrong, but the more you get away from the ‘grass is greener’ mentality, the more you can accept and appreciate where you are.
5. Align, Design, Then do it Again
Have you ever been super comfortable and chugging along well, only to wake up one day and find that what was once comfortable suddenly feels very out of alignment?
Welcome to life, ha!
To me, alignment is all about finding harmony with your internal and external world, both of which are both ever changing. So in order to continually enjoy the journey, we need to constantly be taking a look at our internal world (beliefs, mindset, values, thoughts, etc.) and align that with our external world (what we do, where we do it, how we do it, etc.).
In order to feel ongoing fulfillment, it’s important to fine tune our focus and celebrate the things we do have, and can do. It’s important to be where we are, not where we are not, and put the majority of our energy and effort into the things that allow us to feel the things we want to feel, so we can be the people that we want to be. And as all that is going on, to have a system in place for reflection and review so we can set ourselves up for success to constantly realign and redesign as things change around us.
Aligned Action: Long lasting fulfillment and contentment even when things don’t go as planned comes from the ability to change and realign as the world changes around us. This is a practice, and a practice that is ongoing. Have compassion for yourself, and get support along the way!
Enjoy the journey my friend. 🙂
P.S. Next month I am opening enrollment for an Align and Design Accelerator, a mastermind program where I will work directly with small groups of 4-6 on a weekly basis for 10 weeks to help them align and design who they are with where they are. It will run from the end of February – beginning of May and there are only going to be 18 spots available, so if you want to secure a spot, make sure you join the waitlist, as we will announce enrollment to the waitlist first.